'Fast-paced' and other phrases in job ads that mean 'living hell'

LOOKING for work? Want to spot those positions that promise perpetual suffering in an office full of bastards? Look out for these key phrases: 

‘Round 1 of applications’

This employer thinks working for them deserves the equivalent of Oxford entrance exams. Forms, more forms where you repeat everything from the first set of forms, a Myers-Briggs test, and a presentation assignment that takes a fortnight. To get an informal interview.

‘Candidates should be flexible’

Flexible is a one-way road to these monsters. All time is work time. They’ll call you at 11pm on a Friday and you’ll be expected to drop everything. But ask for a late start for a doctor’s appointment and you’re on your final written warning.

‘The team is one big family’

Welcome to the passive-aggressive capital of the world. Your colleagues will step on your neck for as little as an extra five minutes at lunch.

‘This field should be your passion’

And your only passion. Try to pursue other interests, hobbies, start a family – anything that isn’t related to your passion for direct mail marketing – and we will sue you. Your possessions will be confiscated and your children put into care.

‘Perks include gym membership’

Okay, you’re allowed one hobby, the gym. Where you can improve your endurance to do our baseline 75-hour week. Also means the boss feels free to call you fat.


Your job used to be done by four people. Now it’s done by one, and it’s been unfilled for six months after the last person went off with stress so there’s a backlog to catch up on. All results needed yesterday. Professional masochists welcomed.

‘Salary: competitive’

Tell us what you think you need to be paid to live. We’re confident we can offer less than a third of that.

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Is this man's hat his new look or is he going bald?

DESPITE rarely wearing a hat previously, 32-year-old Jordan Gardner has taken to wearing one on all occasions. But is it a style choice or is he hiding baldness? 

Looks atrocious

The hat looks absolutely bloody awful. He’s wearing a trilby in a crowded bar, thinking he looks sophisticated, while in reality he just looks like some sort of jazz pervert. Given how little it suits him, he must surely be covering up a receding hairline?

Looks like a twat already

On the other hand, he looks enough of a pompous twat to be entirely oblivious to how arrestingly garish it looks. It’s possible he’s so full of himself that he honestly looks in the mirror wearing a trilby and thinks ‘Yes, I would like the world to see me in this.’

Far too warm

That said, the bar is well over 30 degrees and his head is visibly sweating. You’ve never considered the chance of seeing sweat-marks on a wicker trilby before but it seems a real possibility now. Insisting on keeping it on surely means he’s hiding seriously thinning hair.


However, if he actually is as much of a prick as he appears he may be sticking with it for attention. Maybe he’s attempting to ‘peacock’ and thinks that it makes him look distinctive so girls remember him. They do, but it also handily allows them to avoid the dickhead.

Keeps readjusting it

Given how much he’s messing with it, however, it seems certain that he’s self-conscious. He pretty much has one hand glued to the hat. He can only be hiding a despairingly sweaty bald spot under that monstrosity. Somebody knock it off.