This Is What The HR Person Really Means

Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
By Stephanie Taylor Christensen

Sometimes, navigating office politics — and speak — can feel a bit like trying to decipher the meaning behind smoke rings.

Case in point: While in the interview seat, you’re told that you are a “competitive candidate” — but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got the job.

Rather, you could just be one in a sea of overqualified people vying for the position.

Or, maybe earning a “title promotion” may sound like you’ve scored a career coup…or have you? This type of office speak exists for a reason: There are often protocols that employers must follow when hiring, firing, or providing feedback.

But, how the messages are conveyed can leave workers scratching their heads and trying to read between the lines.

To decipher it all, you need insight from those who’ve spoken the language — people like the HR and career experts we’ve rounded up.

They’re helping us decode some of the most common “carefully crafted” phrases you may hear — whether you’re on the job hunt or a ten-year company veteran.

Related: The Job-Hunting Iron Curtain: What You Need To Know To Make It Past The Recruiter

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