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In this episode of our short series "Ask A Recruiter," career expert Jazmine Reed-Clark decodes 10 popular job description keywords and why they might not be as innocuous as they seem.

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Hi, I'm Jazmine Reed-Clark for The Financial Diet, and this is Ask a Recruiter. I spent the last six years in the people operations space, working as an HR manager or a recruiter, and now a career wellness coach. So I definitely know all the tips and the tea that there is to spill and share with you all. And today, we are going to be getting into the job descriptions and how to spot those really pesky red flags that are hiding in plain sight so that you don't end up losing your sanity to a company that will easily exploit you for burn-out. But before we hop into anything, I do want to put a disclaimer that this isn't an absolute. This doesn't mean every time you see this on a job description, it immediately means that a workplace is going to be toxic. These are meant to just be taken as rules of thought, and just consider them heavy suggestions.

The first I want to get into is unlimited vacation days or unlimited PTO. Here's why it's a red flag. Listen, I know it sounds really glamorous in the beginning. However, I can share anecdotally, and there's even research to support this, you often feel guilt tripped, either internally or even externally if you do take off. And there are even some companies that perhaps I have worked for that it is an unspoken rule that you don't take that unlimited PTO within the first 6 to 12 months of working. So that is something to keep in mind. Now, the reason that you will likely find unlimited PTO isn't usually because an employer just wants you to ride the waves and live your best Eat Pray Love life. In fact, it is because when you leave, we then are not required to pay for your unlimited PTO, whereas with companies where you accrue your PTO, then there is a set amount of money that we owe you if you have unused vacation days.

Hot tip. Ooh, favorite one-liner from job descriptions is, "roll up your sleeves." Now, yes, we want highly motivated self-starters, which is just jargon for people pleasers who will just take anything we give at them. But "roll up your sleeves" really always equals, we are going to throw things are on the job description, not on the job description, that we don't need and won't need later on. This is a catch-all for, if you really want to be here, you're going to just say yes all the time. So "roll up your sleeves" is a mating call for people pleasers who need external validation, like myself. Hi, I am one of you, you are one of me. This is how they get us. They tell us that they want roll-up-your-sleeves self-started motivators. So be careful when you see this on a job description. If you decide to go into the job interview anyways, absolutely no problem. Just make sure in the interview questions that you're asking what your success metrics are going to look like. And learn more about the team dynamics so you know and have a clear understanding of what are going to be your responsibilities and what are going to be your co-workers' responsibilities.

Oh, my God, my favorite that I totally used to fall for back in the day and regret it every time-- "we're like a family here." No, it's toxic. People are probably hooking up. Run. Run, run, run. And let me just share-- I will spill my life-- the one company where it really was all of my friends worked there. And hey, for what it's worth, some people are now blissfully married who were dating there. But it got very Beverly Hills, 90210. Oftentimes, when it's "like a family here," think about that. What do families do? They fight, they bicker, they're forced to deal with each other because "you're family." There's just a lot of toxicity and a lack of boundaries that, honestly, you don't get paid enough to deal with. So take it from somebody who totally is guilty of making a company her full identity and being completely distraught when there was a layoff, or realizing that it was time to move on from a company. Your co-workers don't need to be your family. Your coworkers need to be individuals who you can count on for projects. And if it's like a family, dude, you don't want to be in that family tree. Just toxic, OK? Trust me.

All right, next. Any job descriptions that use jargony lingo like "synergy," "ninja," "guru," or "no ego." Now, on a more personal note, this is a red flag for me personally because I believe they're just going to try to set a vibe and maybe don't have health benefits. But beyond just my filter lens of what I'm no longer looking for in an employer, when somebody says, "no ego," that likely means they're going to ask you to do things that have nothing to do with your job description, and they don't want pushback when you ask clarifying questions. They are going to sum that up as not being a team player and having a big ego. Now, are egos real in the workplace? Totally. But if you ask clarifying questions because, ma'am, you're not getting paid overtime to do things that aren't in your job description, I think that's just called setting boundaries. And then ninja, guru, that is because they don't really know what this job is. So let's just use splashy start-up titles or words and I'll gore you with that. Plus it also sets the idea that they're much more relaxed, but you're going to be crapping your pants because of the amount of pressure that they put on you to do an incredibly large amount of work.

So one thing that I do feel like I'm going to get a little bit of heat in the comments section about is, "depending on experience." Now, certainly sometimes it's as simple as, yeah, we're just not going to pay a graphic artist the same at two years as we would at five years. And that makes sense. However, I have also learned, as someone who has had those big negotiating conversations with hiring managers, compensation teams, that can mean that, hey, we have some extra money here, but we're really only going to spend it on the people that we think are worth it, and we know that we are, perhaps, low balling you or low balling this position. Now, again, that is not always the case. I would-- out of all the advice I give in this video, that is the one to be the most generous with. But just know, negotiation might be a little bit more difficult when they say, "depending on experience."

Next, if 30-year-old Jazmine could talk to 22-year-old Jazmine, not that she would listen, but I would tell her, consider the perks. If a company is trying to entice you with perks like an on-site gym or paid dinner daily-- these are perks I have literally had at past employers-- it's not because they care about their nutrition or physical health. Darling, it is because they want you to be chained to your desk. They essentially think to themselves, how can we get it so that she never has an excuse to leave her desk? And voila, you have paid lunches, you have more events, you have daily happy hours. And before you know it, your whole life is at work-- literally at work. So while I'm not saying it should be a deal breaker, just be considerate of the perks that you're being given and what they could be overcompensating for. Further, look, the perks that are important to you at 22 are not going to be the perks that are important to you at 32. Try to think about yourself two, three, four years out. And maybe when you take the job today, you're super pumped that they have kombucha on tap. Again, I have had that at an employer, and it was great. But do they have health benefits? Think of your future self after you've signed the offer letter. What are they going to want in an employer? And I can almost guarantee it's not going to be coupons to Chuck E. Cheese. I don't know what people do. "Someone who won't stop until the job is done." Sir, is this like The Hunger Games? Is this Mission Impossible? No, we don't need any of that.

Look, when they say things like, again, "highly motivated self-starter" or "someone who won't stop until the job is done," they are essentially hoping that you will exchange your paycheck that might even be below industry standards for your life. Literally all of your life, your intellectual property, your creativity. A company is never going to overpay you. So if you make $50,000 a year, likely you make that company or help do some sort of project that helps that company make many, many times over that. So if I can tell you anything, do not let the promise of future growth opportunities, beer on tap, blind you to the fact that you are the only one who can set and enforce your own boundaries at work. Here's an easy one. Fast-paced environment, dynamic environment. Anything related to a rocket ship or something like Elon Musk would say environment, no. No bueno. It's really another word for toxic. We will run you into the ground, and we will likely dangle some carrots and promises, maybe even a bonus check, but it's fast-paced because we don't know what the hell we're doing and we're flying by the seat of our pants and we're hoping that you can fly with us. That is what that means.

Ooh, this one. OK. Here's another one that used to seem very glamorous to me, and, I mean, if I'm being honest, was glamorous to me a year ago. You'll have the opportunity to drive and lead multiple initiatives and/or socialize your own processes. This means, we're going to dump all the things we should have been taking care of for the past few years, give it to you, and say, have at it, sport. No, if that is your jam, I mean, put on your boogie pants, you're going to be really happy here. But if you actually want a life outside of work-- and listen, by no means does everyone want that-- I am a recovering workaholic-- your job and responsibilities should always be set, established, and very clear to you well before day one at a job. OK, so I got an offer letter from a company, and one of the perks in the employee benefits section-- I am not joking-- was knowing you're changing the world. What can I do with that? What bills can I pay with that? What inner peace can I have with that? That, again, is fluff and it's filler. And if you really want my opinion, I even think it can, at times, be a tactic and a form of manipulation.

 All of that said, when they're disrupting industries or changing the world, it's not that it's not true or that they don't believe that wholly, it's that they will then likely expect you to take on that life mission. So again, it's all about asking the right questions in the interview. Ask about how does the team work together. When somebody does go on vacation or maternity/paternity leave, how does the team work together and help with coverage plans? You have to make sure that you are your best advocate because if you're not explicitly stating those boundaries from the beginning-- it is easily one of my worst mistakes-- from the beginning-- your boss, whether it's because they're a Svengali or because they just genuinely believe that you have the same level of passion as they do, they are going to assume you're a lifer, that you want to wear 32 things of flair, and if you don't-- set that expectation up front. And by no means am I saying go in there in an interview and say, this is not my life. It's more about asking the right questions and making sure that you and your hiring manager are on the right page, again, before day one.

And another that I think is really sneaky is, "able to meet deadlines with little supervision." You don't have a good manager. You will not have a good manager. You might even just randomly become a manager if you don't want to be one. So with this one, it sounds like you get the thing of autonomy, which we all want. But just ensure in those interviews, you're asking about the kind of leadership styles of the exec board in your soon-to-be manager, what their management style is like, and how do they best support and invest back in their employees.

So now that you've heard my two cents, I want to hear yours. So what do you agree with, disagree with? And if you have any other questions for Ask a Recruiter, I want to see it all in the comments section below. Thank you so much. And again, I am Jazmine Reed-Clark for The Financial Diet. See you all next time. Bye