Lost in Translation

One of the first things I noticed about looking for a new job in the arts is the extent to which these organizations use coded language in job descriptions and interviews. It’s surprising to me, but it seems almost universal.

For example:

“Position to be filled immediately,” which actually means…“The person who quit gave us two weeks notice, but the position won’t be filled for at least two months.”

It takes time to hire new staff, and most organizations are not realistic about those timelines, either with themselves or with job seekers. This seems to be an issue not only of unreasonable expectations, but also a function of not setting specific, measurable time frames. I interviewed with one organization that laid out a very reasonable set of expectations: First round phone interviews through May 15, second round in person interviews through June 1, with final interviews and offers made by the end of June, since our Executive Director will be on vacation.  They filled the job in perfect time (I didn’t make the final round.) Organizations that do not impose a structure like this, or which do not determine For what it’s worth, Organizations that say “immediately” don’t mean as soon as possible, or maybe don’t have a good idea of what is possible.

And this gem:

“Excellent communication skills required.” This sentence is invariably followed by a number of truly choice typos.


“Sense of humor,” just means that you like Birthday cake and potentially that you would be open to practical jokes. I interviewed at an actual Circus, this was explained to me as a requirement of my job position, which was so sweet. They loved me, because I wore polka dots to my interview, and then never called me.


“Must be willing to handle multiple priorities and work in a sometimes chaotic environment,” should just say “one or more of your managers will have a diagnosed personality disorder.” Also, if there are multiples, they are not really priorities. You can ask me to prioritize my work, though. I guess. Am I being too harsh?



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