Beware of these Buzzwords

Life has become a series of buzzwords and hashtags we all regurgitate back to one another through RTs and shares, all day, everyday. I love language and for the most part I am mostly unbothered by them. In fact I use a few myself from time to time.

However, there are some buzzwords that are meant to manipulate rather than actually communicate. Advertisers use buzzwords all the time to mislead consumers. Even when advertising an available job, buzzwords are thrown around to disguise problematic office culture. Like human beings, office culture can be healthy and beneficial or toxic and dysfunctional.

That’s part of the interview process. It goes both ways, just as they are trying to figure out if you are the right fit for them, you need to be figuring out if they are the right fit for you. The way corporate America is set up, individuals who work full-time out of home, spend more time with work colleagues than family. It really needs to be a mutually beneficial pairing.

Candidates should be looking to work in a space that will come as close as possible to providing them with a healthy work/life balance. It’s important to know how to identify red flags in a company.

This starts before you even apply for a position…most times we just skim the job description and requirements looking for the “submit resume” button. Stop. Scour the description and if you see any of these buzzwords or phrases, you may want to reconsider.


As in, “looking for a hungry executive who will hit the ground running…”

What this means, you are going to have to work like you’ve never worked before for the tiniest reward and an even tinier compensation. We will underpay you and over work you. We glorify busy and believe you should prioritize this job above all else.

“Value add”

As in, “What’s your value add?”

I’ve talked about this phrase before. What this actually means is, “How can we devalue the skills you deserve to be fairly compensated for?” We will expect you to constantly prove your worth even though we hired you for having the most impressive skills. We will praise you daily for a job well done but nitpick and criticize your during yearly evaluations, so we don’t have to give you a raise. If you are a woman, we will pay you much, much less than market value but expect you to do so much more to prove you belong on the team. If you are a woman of color we probably will not hire you.


As in, “Must be an ambitious, self-starter…”

What this actually means, “there will be little to no leadership,” and we will blame you for that at every turn. We will hire you because you seem like a great scapegoat for the department/company/organization. We will dump a huge amount of work on you and expect you to read everyone’s mind on how to get it done. We will not be satisfied no matter what direction you take. We will take credit for your innovations.

“Wear many hats”

As in, “You must be able to wear many hats, sometimes all at once…”

What this actually means, “we want you to do the job of 3-4 people but only get paid for the title we give you,” this title will not actually reflect your actual work. That’s because we are too cheap to hire both an office manager and a project manager, so you will be both but we will call you “coordinator” so we don’t have to pay you a manager’s salary. We will keep adding hats every time there is a task or project no one else wants to do. We will expect you to juggle these responsibilities seamlessly and within an 8 hour day because we do not pay overtime.

I believe everyone should be paid an appropriate, livable wage. I believe we are allowed to determine our own worth and we should not settle for less than that! Happy job hunting!

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