Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Red flags, storm warnings, and writings on the wall

One could conclude from reading want-ads language that many of them are cut from the same cloth; that there is some template out there used by most employers.

The same key words and phrases appear everywhere, whatever the industry. These words apparently reflect the qualities that employers seek in their employees.

Here are some that carry a message—a cautionary one—for job applicants, with my take on how a few of them impact editors.

  • Creative, persuasive editor: The writers (or authors and content developers) don't like their work reviewed or having to rewrite. They resist working with editors and resent author queries.

  • Flexibility, must be able to shift gears in this fast-paced environment: The environment is chaotic, unstructured, super-dynamic, and mismanaged. You will need to routinely work late hours and weekends as a result of the absence of viable systems and processes.

  • Immediate opening: This is a rarity at best. If the company is of any significant size, it will have a bureaucracy involved in recruitment, selection, and hiring. Don’t give up that temp or freelance gig just yet.

  • Professional work environment: If a company has to state what should be a given, it’s a dead giveaway that the company has problems.

  • Qualifications, “preferred” and “a plus”: Call them what you will, but these are requirements. Don’t apply without them, hoping for the best. There always will be applicants fitting the bill.

  • Sense of humor: You’re walking into a somber environment. If you have a sense of humor, you’ll be the odd man out.

  • Team player: Forget about having the final say. You’ll have responsibility without authority and will be micromanaged every step of the way. “We are a team” (or the variant, “We are a family”) is emphasized only when it suits the needs of management.