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6 Toxic Job Descriptions & What They Mean

We are over it. Too many toxic job descriptions we’ve been forced to partake in for career “opportunities”. We are done with the toxic job descriptions.

*And let’s be clear – it’s not *just* about the job descriptions… it’s about the jobs themselves.

What does it mean?

This is a topic that is resonating with the masses. And we’re finally at a time when employees can speak up about a toxic job & those pesky toxic job descriptions that go along with them.

When I posted the video of toxic job descriptions on Instagram, it resonated with lots of people. Too many have felt the pain and reality of what these job descriptions actually mean. And it’s finally a time that action can be taken. 

No wonder there are 11.3 million open jobs right now… companies have horrible job descriptions (which, as you know, usually means horrible jobs) (Liu, 2022). 

It’s a worker’s market and the power is in employee hands. No more toxic job descriptions (no more toxic jobs).

No, I won’t take a job with that description. No, I won’t work in a toxic workplace. I won’t stand for toxic hiring requirements or any other outdated workplace norm that has been accepted for far too long.

People are taking a stand. Workers are saying no. We are in the age of the employee. Let it have profound change and lasting impacts. After all, it’s quite overdue. 

“The labor market is seeing sustained pressure where there are tons of job openings, new hires and people leaving all at once — which is proving to be great for jobseekers and tough for hiring managers” (Liu, 2022).

Take advantage of that market pressure. It’s time.

Hope is high right now. Changes are taking place in the workplace. 

Negotiate for less

Yes, you read that right. Negotiate for LESS. A connection of mine shared a story of negotiating for LESS items in their job description. Same title. Same pay. But doing LESS. Yessssss. This is the energy we need.

Reject what doesn’t serve you. Do LESS. This overworked and underpaid work norm is long, long overdue. Do less.  

Work fewer days per week. Work shorter hours per day. Being overworked is not working for us.

Workers are tired of the status quo they’ve been put through decade after decade. It’s a surprise to no one that: “Americans said their biggest reasons for quitting in the last year were low pay, a lack of career advancement and because they felt disrespected at work, according to a new report from Pew Research Center… “ (Liu, 2022).

And my favorite part of this CNBC article: 

“People are questioning traditional workplaces that reward psychopathic traits in leaders, like seeking recognition, being self-centered and having a high sense of entitlement – People don’t want to be engaged in these dynamics and they’re sick and tired of trying to please these types of people” 

Liu, 2022

And yet… even as these stats come out… not a lot has changed or is changing. 

And if it has changed, it’s not enough.

We’re here to change the rules. We’re rewriting them as we speak. If you see these (next items) in the job description – run. Red flag 🚩. Huge red flag.

Or negotiate those parts away. You have the power. 

Let’s put the onus on the companies to make work a better experience for their employees.

Make toxic job descriptions (and toxic jobs!) a part of the past.

Without further ado, 6 toxic job descriptions to be rid of…

6 toxic job descriptions & what they mean:

1. Fast-paced environment

2. Wear many hats

3. We’re like a family here

4. Competitive pay

5. Competitive benefits

6. Must be able to multitask

*An open letter to employers

1. Fast-paced environment = not enough time to do your job

This toxic job description has been tricky for a long time. “Fast-paced environment” sounds exciting and worthwhile. Maybe in ideal instances, it is. But for too many, it’s the opposite. It’s less than exciting. In more cases than not, it’s likely a cubicle or other un-stimulating, banal setting.

And let’s not forget that “fast-paced environment” really equates to not enough time to do your job. And then before you know it, you’re likely being reprimanded for not having enough time to complete your toxic job. Then you feel less-than. It can be a viscous cycle. No thank you. Fast-paced environment is a trap. Run.

2. Wear many hats = it’s actually 6 jobs in 1

This one is similar to fast-paced environment, but they actually come out and reveal it a bit more. Thanks for your transparency. Thanks but no thanks. This is not a good thing. What it really comes down to is: the company didn’t/ won’t allocate sufficient money for the amount of necessary positions to fully get the job done. Therefore, 1 person has to “wear many hats” or do many jobs for the pay of 1. A deal for the company? Yes. A deal for your sanity? No. 

3. We’re like a family here = there are no boundaries here

Run. Toxic job to the extreme. You have a family. You don’t need another one. And if you did, it definitely doesn’t have to be at your place of work. At first, this type of work environment might seem good and nice, warm and snuggly. Maybe even safe for a bit. But it will soon turn toxic. Usually this is in the form of asking you to overextend yourself and do things outside of your job description, all in the name of care & love for your “family”. Again, one word of advice: Run. 

4. Competitive pay = the pay will compete with your bills *then put it in the job description

If it’s so competitive, then why aren’t you putting it in the job description? Don’t answer that. (We already know the answer.)

If it’s so competitive, then why are you still asking your candidates, “What’s your salary range?” After all, if you’re so competitive, shouldn’t YOU be sharing that information? 

No one is fooled with “competitive pay”. Your company looks foolish by posting that in the job description. Put the number in the job description. We’re waiting…

put the salary in the job description

5. Competitive benefits = they’ll match your retirement contribution – **but only after you’ve worked there 5 years

You have competitive benefits? Or you have the same benefits as everyone else and the landscape of benefits in this country is so terrible that that’s considered “competitive”? If your benefits are competitive (and different), then… say that. Tell us what they are. 

If companies aren’t naming their “competitive benefits” in the job description – save yourself the time. They’re not competitive. They’re basic. Probably less than basic.

On Retirement Contributions

The lack of employee-centered retirement planning in this country is disappointing at best, and at worst has grave consequences playing out today and in the years to come. A country that so forlornly allows companies to have complete disregard for the future of their workforce is distasteful, to say the very least.  

First of all, make retirement an automatic “opt in” (*research shows “opt out” programs benefit the employees tenfold) (Rosenberg, 2010). This is a simple (no-brainer) solution making it easier to benefit so many employees.

As for matching the contribution, do it today. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Today. I won’t be here in a year, let alone 5 if you don’t show your workforce the basic decency of matching retirement contributions.

Competitive benefits… spare me. Name it in the job description if they’re so competitive.  

6. Must be able to multitask = you have a ridiculous amount of items you’re expected to prioritize

Not much has to be said here for this toxic job description. Multitasking is not real. It hinders your performance (Cleveland Clinic, 2021). The fact that so many workplaces are asking you to do this when it clearly impacts productivity transparently means they are underpaying you, they’ve underfunded positions, and they haven’t allocated their priorities appropriately. This will undoubtedly come to bite you. Get out before the toxic job falls on your shoulders.

Which toxic job descriptions did I miss? Add it in the comments.

*Disclaimer: This is not the case at *all workplaces. There are some exceptions. Not many, but some. Experience may differ depending on the person. 

toxic job descriptions & what they mean

And finally, let’s end with…

An Open Letter to Employers:

I don’t know how to say this in a more “correct” form, but we (employees) are so sick of the “rules“.

We just are. We’re sick of the multiple interviews. We’re sick of you asking for our references when you’ll just be talking to another version of you on how they viewed me.

We’re sick of the toxic job descriptions. We’re sick of having to wait a month (or two) for benefits to kick in. We’re sick of having to wait for you to restructure the whole payroll to pay us fairly. We’re sick of having to ask for time off. We’re sick of the person who talks the most and looks like you the most getting the promotion we deserved.

We’re sick of the subtle & overt racism, sexism & lack of any sort of “diversity” in leadership. We’re sick of getting a poor excuse of a family leave policy. We’re just sick of it. We’re sick of being an afterthought after profits. You keep saying “prioritize people over profits”… but you’ve never actually done that.

And you’re confused about why no one wants to work for you.

But we aren’t confused.

And it’s not confusing.

It’s actually quite clear.


*Article: Science Is Clear – Multitasking Doesn’t Work
Health Essential News, Cleveland Clinic (2021)

*Article: There are more than 11 million open jobs in America right now – and workers have the upper hand (2022) @CNBC

Author: Jennifer Liu

*Article: The Opt-Out Solution, The New York Times, The Opinion Pages (2010)
Author: Tina Rosenberg

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Disclaimer: While the contents of this post and blog come from research and personal experience, each experience, situation and/or person has their own unique circumstances. This is not negotiation, financial or any other form of legitimate or official advice from an expert. Each individual should do their own independent, comprehensive research. Negotiation, career and all other decisions are the sole responsibility of each individual or party. Details found on the blog and in individual posts are opinions and should be treated as such for entertainment purposes only. Read further disclaimer information on the Disclaimer page.

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