Let’s face it, job adverts aren’t always the easiest things to understand…
Sometimes, an overreliance on using the same stock phrases is to blame. But if you dig a little deeper, you might be surprised at just how much exploiting these clichés could add to your CV.
To help you make sense of what employers really mean, we’ve decoded some of the most (over)used job advert buzzwords:
Employers looking for ‘self-starters’ want someone who can take initiative and work under their own supervision. If you can see what needs doing on your own – and get on and do it with little guidance, then you probably tick the ‘self-starter’ box.
This skill is particularly common for freelance or remote work, where direct supervision is limited. Busier workplaces and start-ups will also see this as a top skill.
How can I demonstrate this skill? Reference any task or activity where you worked alone, or received little guidance, and achieved a good result. Whether it’s from using your own resourcefulness to complete a task to a high standard, or solving a problem without having to ask for help, you’ve probably been a ‘self-starter’ more than you realise.
Employers use the term ‘dynamic’ to describe confident individuals who are motivated by their work and capable of taking on new tasks.
This means they’re looking for someone who can think intelligently, and use their enthusiasm to come up with inventive solutions to problems.
If you’re innovative and creative with a knack for ideas, there’s a good chance you’re the kind of dynamic candidate the employer is looking for.
How can I demonstrate I have this skill? Think about a time you’ve come up with new ideas or took on a new task with enthusiasm, and use them in your CV and/or cover letter. Backing up your problem solving skills with a relevant example will also impress the employer.
Here, the employer is looking for someone who has a positive, ambitious approach to their work and can see the bigger picture in terms of how their contribution matters.
Focussing on the results as well as the actions it takes to get there is also a big part of being ‘forward-thinking’ – and a candidate who can always look towards the future, regardless of any road blocks they face along the way, is exactly what the employer wants.
How can I demonstrate I have this skill? To show you’re a good fit, reference a time where you faced a problem, but still pulled through and completed the project – all because you could see how your hard work would pay off in the long run.
Good track record
This phrase is asking candidates to demonstrate their suitability for a role by giving examples of times they’ve exemplified each requirement.
After all, anyone can say they’re good at something, but impressing the employer is all about showing your skills rather than simply stating you have them.
And whether it’s through drawing the employer’s attention to a particular job, task, or academic achievement, tailoring your application to the role is the best way to make your application stand out.
How can I demonstrate this skill? Read the job description thoroughly, and make sure your CV and/or cover letter shows genuine evidence of the skills and experience the employer is looking for. Once you’re clear on what they want, you’ll be able to tailor your application to fit within their requirements.
In other words, the employer wants their applicants to be especially focused on one of two things – details or results. The best applications will then foreground these skills accordingly.
For example, detail-oriented applicants will be able to show a meticulous work ethic, a strong attention to detail, and a good level of accuracy in everything they do.
And, employers looking for goal/results-oriented candidates will want someone who’s driven, motivated, and focussed on working hard to achieve an end goal.
How can I demonstrate this skill? Use your CV and cover letter to explain your focus on the little details and/or goals, and provide examples to back up the skills you’ve gained. For example, a ‘detail-oriented’ person could discuss a project, task, or activity where they needed to use an excellent level of precision and accuracy, and ‘goal-oriented’ people will focus more on reporting the numbers.
Employers that state the salary for a job is ‘competitive’ could indicate a few things – one of which being that the salary may depend on your current skills and experience.
A similar situation is to be expected if the salary is described as ‘negotiable’, also meaning leverage will make a difference when it comes to agreeing on pay.
It may mean bringing the salary up as part the interview process yourself – so don’t be afraid to get down to the numbers as part of your questions.
How to ask about salary: It’s generally always best to ask about salary as early as you can.This might be possible during the application stage (if the employer asks you to provide your salary expectations), but if not – it’s perfectly acceptable to ask at interview stage. As long as you approach any money talk with caution, and you make sure your expectations are realistic, you should be able to get a clear idea of what the employer is willing to pay.
Still searching for your perfect role? View all available vacancies now.
Find a job
Sign up for more Career Advice