It would be refreshing if job ads spelt out the situation as it really was. Simon Howard provides a guide to recruitment-ad speak

There’s nowt so queer as folk and nowt so queer as the pastimes they choose. For some, standing on the end of railway platforms collecting numbers can be deeply satisfying, while others are turned on by snapping lesser spotted tits and their like in remote rural habitats. But for me the strange obsession is collecting the dire drivel that authors of recruitment advertisements foist upon us poor readers.

I’ll start this glimpse into my collection with some from the plain stupid file. Not long ago Glasgow City Council advertised for a cemetery manager in a style which screamed the council’s tagline across the bottom ‘Glasgow’s Alive!’.

Or there was the London Borough that advertised for ‘Street Lighting Engineers (two posts)’.

The private sector’s no better. I know who was responsible for ‘Elizabeth Arden has attractive openings’ or better still the ubiquitous ‘opportunity to join an expanding contracting company’.

However, you can’t help wondering about an ad in Packaging Week with the headline ‘Are you going places in aluminium foil containers?’

Then there’s the pure rubbish: a salary described as ‘circa £32,245’ is plainly not, or ‘the successful candidate must have the proven ability to demonstrate the facility to exhibit a range of excellent communication skills’ - clearly necessary as the writer couldn’t.

But best of all there’s the ‘recruitment ad-speak’ that puts even the slimiest estate agent to shame.

Of course we know that it’s all code, so in true nerdy style I’ve compiled a small compendium:

Ability to build relationships: oily and servile

Agent of change: scapegoat

Ambitious: young enough to think it’s still possible

Attractive salary: probably not

Bottom line focus: nothing else matters

Career minded: crawler

Challenging: impossible

Competitive: ruthless

Developmental role: not paying as much as we should

Direct and communicative personal style: rude

Diverse team: uncontrollable mob

Enthusiastic: naive

Exciting opportunity: who are you kidding?

Experience of implementing cultural change: blood on your hands

Fast moving: out of control

Friendly environment: cramped offices

Hands-on management style: interference by another name

Initially on a contract basis: this is all a bit of an experiment

Innovative approach: the ideas will be yours, the glory ours

Intuitive: able to read the boss’s mind

Liaise at all levels: piggy in the middle

Motivational skills: enough charm to get people to forget their problems

Opportunity to develop new skills: you’ll be thrown in at the deep end

Pragmatic: unprincipled

Self motivated: you’re on your own

Tact and understanding: company politics are a nightmare

Undergoing radical structural change: fighting for survival

Unique opportunity has arisen: previous incumbent fired

Work under pressure: inadequate resources to achieve the impossible

Now, some of you may remember the property advertisements of Roy Brooks. Here was someone who 30 years ago cut a swathe through all that ‘sought-after location’ estate-agent-speak, creating lines such as ‘the first thing you’ll need is a fleet of skips if this SW3 dump is ever to be lived in again’ or ‘this charming area, once sought after by the demented, deranged and psychotically possessed, now boasts residences offering the very latest in fashionable London living - all except this one’.

So perhaps it’s time for a recruitment equivalent to emerge - a consultant who is prepared to tell the real story and make us smile occasionally. Imagine it: ‘What is at best a charitably funded role, this would suit outstanding business strategists who presently find themselves repelled by such gaudy baubles as wealth, recognition, career prospects and status’ - or that sort of thing.

So are there any takers out there?

n Simon Howard is a founder of Work Communications and writes the Jobfile column for the Sunday Times.