Decoding Common Job Description Buzzwords

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By Katherine Konrad, an experienced marketing professional and recent Celarity contractor 

Do you ever read the same word over so many times it begins to look and sound like nonsense? This happens to me (more than I care to admit) with the word “spoon”.  Look at that word for 30 seconds straight and tell me it doesn’t start to look silly. I’ll wait.

Silly, right? Similarly, a lot of job descriptions use the same buzzwords over and over … and over again. So much so that they all start to lose meaning. Many hiring managers are looking for a “self-starter” who’s “dynamic” and a “team player”. They’re a “multi-tasker” but also has “attention-to-detail.”  All of these different companies with such similar buzzwords but – what do they actually mean? Sorry about those 30 seconds earlier you’ll never get back, but below is a few-minute read I’m hoping you won’t regret.


When a job posting mentions passion, it means they’re looking for excitement and investment in the position and company; they also might be looking for someone who’s willing to put their job above all else – so if that’s not a work-life balance you’re willing to juggle, be sure to clarify what sort of team you’ll be working with if ‘a passionate candidate’ becomes a big talking point in the interview.

Competitive salary

When you see this included in a job description, it means the company is aware of the current industry range they can play within – so, you should too. Knowing this range will put you in a better spot when it comes to salary negotiations.


Ultimately, this means the company is looking for someone with leadership qualities. Whether that means leading other people or leading their own workday (e.g. a self-starter). This candidate is confident, can think independently, and is comfortable in a leadership position if and when it arises.


Speaking of self-starter: this buzzword indicates there might not be a lot of management supervision; or the management doesn’t have the capacity at this time to do much hand-holding. This candidate will need to identify, prioritize and execute work independently.

Team player

This company may have a culture who values the “we” above the “I.” They want someone who will add to the synergy of the team in a productive way.


Multi-tasking isn’t really the most efficient way to work. There is research out there to support this. What this jargon really means is that they’re looking for a candidate who is able to prioritize work, and rapidly switch many demanding tasks.

Attention to detail

This is pretty much what it sounds like. If I see this included I’m extra cautious to dot my “i”s and cross my “t”s in any correspondence with the company. Except for, of course, that one time I definitely misspelled a word in my online application. Spoiler alert: I didn’t get the job.


If you see this term used in a job posting it indicates the role will be handling a lot of last-minute fire drills. Are you cool and focused under pressure? Then make sure to highlight a story about when you saved the day by righting a wrong just in the nick of time.


It’s always good to have numbers in your resume, to begin with, but also be sure to tell the stories behind them in the interview: Did you increase productivity by 20 percent in your department over a 6-month period? Awesome. Did this, in turn, save the company 50,000 dollars? Even better.

Agency experience

An agency can live or die by just one client’s satisfaction, so it’s much less of a risk to hire a candidate who’s well-versed in the agency world and culture. An agency can’t afford to spend time training and needs a new hire to wholeheartedly (late nights, weekends, around-the-clock) commit to meet deadlines and knock client deliverables out of the park.

Blond woman smiling at the camera - Katherine konrad.Katherine is a marketing professional by day and a content creator by night. She enjoys summers in Minnesota, and anywhere else in the winter. When she’s not writing you can find her exploring new neighborhood hangouts; dressed up at a social event; jogging around Minneapolis lakes; or staring at her phone.

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