What Do the Words in a Job Ad Really Mean?
Misleading Words in Job Ads
Have you ever felt confused when reading a job advert? You have the right experience and qualifications, but the ad asks for something else on top. You need a “bubbly” personality. Or you must be “flexible”. Perhaps you are “looking for a challenge”? And of course, you need to display “passion” for the role. What exactly are employers asking for? The reason could be that using vague emotive language can be a way to discriminate against certain groups in society without breaking the law.
Being bubbly may imply a young female is wanted by the employer. Flexibility can discriminate against someone with caring responsibilities. A challenging job requiring passion is a way of specifying energy and endurance that an older person may not have.
Some employers try to manipulate the existing legislation to their advantage. They can save money by ignoring anti-discrimination laws. Take a look at the video below with a critical eye. The presenter's instructions to employers about wording a job ad indicates a few ways that rules can be side-stepped.
Ways to Mislead Job Applicants
Presenter's Instruction in Video Above
1. Make sure there is a vacancy to fill.
Too often an advert is simply a fishing exercise.
2. Comply with equality laws.
There are ways around the law if an employer uses the right wording in the job ad.
3. Make the job title stand out.
The title can make a boring job sound more exciting that it really is.
4. Make your company sound amazing.
This can lead to disappointment when the interview takes place.
Have you seen hidden discrimination in a job advert?
This is one of the misleading phrases you will find in a job ad. Competitive for whom; you or the employer? It is intended to sort the sheep from the goats. Employers hope that you are so desperate for a job you will work for peanuts. You on the other hand are convinced you have unique skills and plan to hold out for a good salary. Either way, you enter the interview room with a huge unknown about the job. Before you waste any energy applying for this role, email or call the employer and pin them down on what they consider a “competitive” salary range to be.
Challenging Role, Agent of Change
This one spells pressure, pressure and more pressure. Challenges in the workplace can include non-cooperative coworkers, unrealistic productivity targets or just a goddamn awful work environment. Regular staff turnover, high sickness absence rates and low morale will be all in a day’s work in this workplace. To succeed in this role, you need an iron constitution and a heart of stone. Workers often display resistance to change. A scapegoat is always useful to have; and it could be you!
The World's Toughest Job
Would you do a job where you had to be on call 24/7 for no pay? Are you able to multi-task, remain calm and appear wise when inside you feel anything but? Surprisingly, more people than you’d think have taken on this role. Many more will willingly join them in the future. If you currently have a difficult job burdened with heavy responsibilities, look at this video and see how you’d measure up to a tough challenge.
Flexible Attitude, Enjoys Multitasking
You will be asked to take on other tasks as required even if they are outside your job description. You may need to shoulder more responsibility for no extra pay or you may be expected to work at different locations at short notice. Working hours might be extended to include evenings and weekends with no account taken of your personal circumstances.
Independent Self-Starter, Fast Learner
This is a coded way of saying that there is no proper training for the role. You’ll need to do your own learning and rely on colleagues to help you. The company has no money for upskilling staff (or is not prepared to spend any). Formal skills training or studying for recognized qualifications must be done in your own time and at your own expense.
They’re looking for a “yes-man/ woman”. They want someone who’ll follow instructions and keep their team focused on the end-game. They don’t want someone who questions the way things are done.
Customer-Focused, Works Well Under Pressure
As someone once said, most jobs would be perfect if it wasn’t for the customers. Jobs that require you to be client-focused usually have a lot of angry or unhappy customers. Staff leave because it’s stressful being on the receiving end of abuse all day. Customer-focused workers somehow manage to remain polite even when they are seething inside.
The management team makes everything urgent and your job is subject to extreme and constant pressure. Your employer’s management skills are inadequate. Instead of delegating responsibility, workers are micro-managed to the nth degree.
Report Discriminatory Job Adverts
The only way to improve the wording of job ads is to report offenders. The laws in US, UK and many other countries are clear. Discrimination in employment on defined characteristics is against the law. You can find more information on what to do if you think you have experienced discrimination in employment on the following websites.
The US Department of Labor website has links to federal and state anti-discrimination employment legislation.
The UK government’s website has up-to-date advice and information on the Equality Act 2010.
Equality Law in the US
In US, an Equality Act was introduced as a Bill in 2015 but has not yet been enacted by Congress. If it becomes law it will amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to give protection against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.
Equality Law in the UK
In UK, anti-discrimination law is defined by the Equality Act 2010. Employers must not discriminate on any of the protected characteristics which are; age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation.