Decoding Job Advert Jargon

Sometimes it can seem that job adverts are printed in a foreign language. Stuffed with jargon and buzzwords, it can be almost impossible to decode the advert and get to the bottom of what the job entails, and what sort of person the company is actually looking for. It takes practice to learn what it all means, so here’s a basic guide to some of the most common terms and phrases and what they really mean.



You’ll often see adverts looking for someone who is a “self-starter” – a confusing term which could mean all sorts of things. What this phrase means is that the company needs someone who can dive straight into the new job and start working with little or no training. In order to demonstrate that you are indeed the “self-starter” that they’re looking for, you should show in your cover letter that you’ve done a very similar job in the past, or that your experience means you can be left to get on with it unsupervised and contribute from your first day.



This is a tricky one as the exact meaning will depend on the business. In a retail environment, it could mean doing extra hours in busy periods, whereas in an office it could mean helping other departments or with other roles. It’s important to clarify exactly what the company means by flexibility at interview stage, especially if you have children to collect from nursery from a set time or other responsibilities which mean you can’t work certain days.


On Target Earnings

Most often seen in connection with sales roles, this phrase on a job advert indicates that your salary will be a basic rate, topped up by commission on sales. How achievable the on target earnings (OTE) are will depend on how realistic the targets are, and this is something you’re unlikely to be able to find out at interview. Do some research on the company and try to speak to someone already working there. Also remember that if you need a guaranteed sum coming in each month, this type of job might not be for you.


Team Player

We all like to think we get on with other people, but what are employers really looking for? Team player mustn’t be confused with being a leader; a business full of leaders never gets anything done. Think more broadly than work experience for your proof of being a team player – sporting examples are good as long as they’re recent, as are examples of pulling together a charity event or working on a committee.



What is dynamism and how do you prove you’ve got it? Dynamism means creativity, get up and go, or “oomph”. It means the company want someone who can create ideas, think of ways to improve business operations and more important, see those ideas through into implementation. Try to show that you’ve come up with ideas in the past, show your creative side and try to come across as energetic and enthusiastic about the business and its products at the interview stage.