In an age of political correctness, companies are understandably paranoid about using controversial messaging in their branding, marketing, and sales assets. Job descriptions, however, are unique pieces of content that often expose exactly what type of person a company prefers, or would rather avoid, when seeking job candidates.

Here is a list of suspicious—yes, possibly racists, sexists, ageist, or otherwise discriminatory—words and phrases that commonly appear in job postings.

  1. Cultural Fit

“Cultural fit” is code for any number of discriminatory biases. This phrase is a classic that affords companies plausible deniability and grants them the right to discriminate against an employee who doesn’t align with a predetermined set of cultural values, sensibilities, or behaviors. For example, a parent with children to feed, a teetotaler, or a recovering alcoholic probably wouldn’t be a good “cultural fit” for a company that proudly touts the importance of happy hours at the workplace. They’ll deny this of course. But we all know what they’re really saying. Be young. And drink. Also, ping pong, brah.

  1. Fast-paced environment

“Fast-paced environment” is code to anyone who suffers from something that might be perceived as slowing them down. Do “fast-paced environments” mean running from one conference room to another in under 90 seconds? Because that will eliminate anyone with a physical disability. Or is it a workplace reserved for quick thinkers, and that slower-minded people are not welcome. You know, older people who are too stupid to understand the Interwebs and those from different socioeconomic backgrounds who need more time to acclimate to the “cultural fit.”

  1. X number years of experience

“X number years of experience” is used to determine how little companies can pay an employee. Experienced people typically demand higher salaries and are therefore less desirable. Success at most jobs is determined by whether or not an employee can perform the assigned duties, not how many years the employee has been performing those duties. This phrase is used by companies to rationalize paying people less money based on experience, instead of paying them what they deserve based on their proficiency and abilities.

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  1. Strong work ethic

“Strong work ethic” can rarely be applied to CEOs who own sailboats (a highly demanding and time-consuming hobby). This is code for employees who are gullible and think that working on weekends and responding to emails at 11pm on a Tuesday night makes them morally superior beings and ideal employees. It doesn’t. Job candidates who get excited about the words “strong work ethic” in a job posting are the most vulnerable to being exploited by people (e.g. many sailboat enthusiasts) who will profit the most from their toil and productivity. Yes, “strong work ethic” is an admirable quality, but rarely does it benefit the source. Start your own business.

  1. Join our family

“Join our family” is something religious cults say before they hand you a cup full of poison. When was the last time your friend texted you the words “Let’s meet for drinks tonight. I just got laid off by my family.” Never. Your employer is not, and never will be, your family. If you think your company is your family, then you need bring them—all of them—to your next family vacation, reunion, and your niece’s birthday party. Oh, yes, and they should bring gifts, because that is what family members do. Your employer will let you go as soon as trouble arises. No matter who you are. Book it. This is when you will need your real family the most.

  1. Other duties as assigned

“Other duties as assigned” is an abomination. A job is a financial agreement, not a promise to help a friend move into a new apartment. Would you ever buy a car or house and sign a contract that says “and other expenses as assigned” just below the purchase price? Let’s hope not, because that would be crazy. This phrase is the ultimate signal that a company seeks an employee who will not defend themselves and simply roll over to corporate demands for fear of losing their job—which, well, is basically everyone. The other code words for this phrase is “team player.” You know who are great team players? Everyone in North Korea.


  1. Motivated and passionate

See #4. “Strong work ethic” above.

Alright, folks. What other discriminatory words and phrases have you encountered in job postings? The comment section is open.

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