Top 10 hiring euphemisms


The prepandemic U.S. jobless rate got as low as “Woo-hoo!” The mid-pandemic rate got as high as “Oh crap!” Between our recent best and worst, we seem to have settled at “Hmm.”

Irrespective of what the percentages are, if you are without a job — and want one — your verbiage is “This sucks.”

How do you get beyond that? Employment agencies (also known as temp agencies) are a good fix. They are getting better at placing job seekers than they used to, but there is a catch: You need to crack their code.


If you take their ad verbiage at face value, you will waste gobs of time applying for positions that at best you will hate from the get-go and at worst leave before the next job report comes out.

Here then is a crash course in hiring code to help you read between the (unemployment) lines. The worst offenders include:

10) Unlimited income potential — This means you won’t make squat — in fact, you will make less than squat. You will make so much less than squat that squat will become a lofty goal, teasing you from afar. Remember, “squat” is what you do when you assume a “position” — enough said.

9) We promote from within — You will work your butt off and have nothing to show for it. Said butt will be so worked off that you will not even be in a position to squat, which is really dangerous to your health, so don’t fall for that line and maintain “squatters’ rights.”

8) Customer service — Anything from gas station attendant to bank president, designed to get the highest number of résumés received so that the agency placing the ad can sell your name to bidders of other services, i.e. résumé businesses, professional clothiers, etc., the firms that prey upon those that pray for work. Maybe the description was misspelled and should be “Cussed At H(im/er)” Service.

7) Outstanding people skills — Customers are likely to assault you with feces and other bodily waste. This may be because you have to tell them what they don’t want to hear (and they have less maturity than a snow pea) or they don’t happen to like the company you work for. This description is usually reserved for payday loan attendants and geriatric Walmart greeters that need to enforce the ever-changing mask policy. Suggestion: If applying for a job utilizing this term, make sure that a) your will is in order and b) your life insurance premium has not lapsed.

6) Pay commensurate with experience — You won’t get paid Jack (unless of course your name is Jack). This is supposed to excite you into thinking you will be making $9,000 a week since you are 25 years old and started your first paper route at age 8 — think again. Analysts have determined that “commensurate” was chosen because it is a $10 word and “equal” would cause you to think the company is tight (See also, “Squat”).

5) Exciting — This is usually code for “not so.” It can also mean, however, that your workday will be replete with impossible situations, which is OK because they know you thrive in scenarios where you are overworked and underpaid. That’s why you answered an ad like that to begin with.

4) Benefits included — This means you have the privilege of paying thousands of dollars a year for dental coverage that pays up to $500 per annum, as long as a) you bring your own floss, b) have cavities filled on alternate Tuesdays and c) that you use the company dentist in Anchorage, Alaska, even though you work out of the Columbia, South Carolina, branch.

3) Specialist — You’re not. It means you get one hour of training and promptly answer phone calls explaining that you are an expert. When the customer asks how long you’ve been with the company, since it’s obvious you don’t know your rectum from the proverbial ground’s hole, you are to tell him that it is not relevant. Next, you encourage him to call back when he has a life and promptly hang up. Not one to ignore a cue, the customer calls back, this time getting your “neighbor.” He screams curse words at a volume “commensurate” with that of a stock exchange floor trader and is likewise intelligible. He demands to speak with your supervisor and because of his incessant calling eventually gets one. The call, recorded for “quality and training purposes,” is used by that supervisor to fire your sorry squatting tool because after all, you work in an “at will” state, which means you can be readily dismissed with or without cause and you find yourself back at “This sucks!”

2) Be your own boss — You will have tons of work to do and nobody to help you do it. This is code for independent contractor, aka Form 1099, aka “See, you can go to McDonald’s and convince yourself that you are really important.” You can even take a friend out for a “business” lunch and take half of the expense off of your income tax. As it turns out, however, there is a catch to that one, too: You have to actually make a profit first, which doesn’t normally happen in the glamorous “Be your own boss” world.

1) Self-starter — Akin to the above, though there’s a touch of extra with this one. It means you should have the energy level of a track star on a gallon of Monster energy drink.

So what do you do to find meaningful work that doesn’t “employ” useless euphemisms? You go to and write for them.

Les Linz is a resident of southern Indiana who writes the “Humor: More or Les” column. He is the author of “Confessions of a Job Gypsy.” Visit his author page at Send comments to [email protected].

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