Deciphering Job Ads

I spotted a classic job ad on our website this week which is essentially in code and thought I’d give you some resources to help you decode business speak. 

Reading the ad, aimed at lab scientists, I wonder how many chemists would be interested in a job where they would “conduct and report development work to assist in the delivery of NPD and PI projects for African and Asian OUs” – or would have the faintest idea of what they were on about, given that the acronyms were nothing to do with science or chemistry.

It’s a consumer product company who placed the ad, so if I’ve got this right, I actually think it would be a great job for a chemist (or similar scientist) who wanted to use their technical skills outside an academic lab. They ask for a 2:1 but I’ll bet a postgrad would be welcome to apply, especially as a large proportion of chemists who stay with chemistry do postgrad degrees (the rest get out as quickly as possible and run away to become careers advisers – who see chemists).

To decipher the jargon, I reckon that :

  • NPD = new product development
  • PI = product (or process) improvement
  • OUs – operational (or organisational) units

and the job sounds like a consumer product development role, where you get to use your lab skills to develop new products, but with shorter timescales than academic research, interact with loads of people (manufacturing, finance, sales and marketing, packaging specialists etc) and have the buzz of seeing people pick your product off the shelf and pay for it. I also know that there is real science behind this type of product, even occasional opportunities for patents to be granted. And to top it all, sounds like there’s the chance for international travel – for the right person, what’s not to like?

To help you unravel what this sort of ad really means, a couple of resources which could help are :

  • Acronym Finder – all the TLAs* you could possibly want to know about. The only problem is going through all the alternatives for each acronym you want to check. This is also a good way to check that any acronyms you want to use in job applications are going to be understood – they may mean something completely different to someone outside your department.
  • biz/ed – a business education resource aimed at A-level onwards. If you need to understand terms used in business, have a look at their Reference section, including a useful glossary to get you started. This also has some good resources if you’re applying for a business job and need to know about eg marketing, operations, finance etc.

(* go on, look it up if you haven’t twigged what this is…)