In this tight labor market, understanding what an employer wants can give you an edge over other applicants. However, companies often struggle to write coherent English and may use corporate code phrases instead of being truthful. In this guide, I show you how to decipher common requirements you might find in job ads.

Job Requirement Translation
Proven ability to multi-task in a fast-paced environment. We are disorganized, bad at planning, and don’t know how to prioritize.
Excellent oral and written communication skills. We don’t know what we want, so we expect you to drag it out of us.
Self-starter, motivated to learn (quick learner). We don’t have time to train you, so you’ll have to figure everything out on your own.
Strong problem solving skills. We are too short-sighted to document anything.
Ability to work under tight schedule constraint. You will be staying until midnight whenever our CEO has one of his brilliant ideas.
Looking for a great cultural fit. We seek young, white, straight, conventionally attractive, able-bodied men willing to work long hours for low pay.
Desire to assume increasing levels of leadership responsibility. In six months, we are going to lay off ⅓ of the staff and assign you their work in addition to your own.
Motivated team player with the ability to work well with diverse colleagues. Your new co-workers will be narcissists and psychopaths.
We promote a family-like work environment. The owners are husband and wife micromanagers who bicker constantly and occasionally “forget” to run payroll.
You must be able to work in a creative, highly flexible environment with quickly changing requirements. We all have ADD and can’t concentrate on anything very long. Hope you don’t mind working late.