Employer Branding, Employment Advertising

Avoiding Corporate Speak

If your company uses a lot of business jargon, you may be turning off would-be job applicants.

Source: Paul Bradbury / OJO Images / Getty

At the very least, you’re probably leaving them feeling uninspired or bored. Neither is conducive to attracting top talent.

Look at Your Lingo

How do you know if you have a corporate speak problem? Reviewing your website is a good place to start.

Take a look at the description of your company and what it does. Would a person unfamiliar with your industry understand the focus of your business? Would a high school student be able to grasp the basics?

Corporate speak, once all the rage, is no longer en vogue. In fact, it makes your company look out of touch.

Words and phrases like synergy, paradigm shift, core competency, and strategic action, among others, are frequently overused and do little to explain what it is you’re trying to convey. And mission critical? Really? Unless you’re launching a rocket, with dreams of Mars, a la SpaceX, you could probably say it better.

Potential job candidates, along with potential customers and others, form an impression of your company, based on the language you use at your website.

Look at Your Job Postings

Oddly enough, even when a company uses language that is thoughtful, purposeful, and easy to understand at its website, that same voice doesn’t always carry over to the company’s job postings.

A top business services firm is currently recruiting for a program delivery manager. Among the many position responsibilities listed in the job posting (errors and punctuation, theirs) are:

  • Review the operational parameters which impact the bottomline (eg pyramid size, utilization etc) for the Project to ensure margins are met.
  • Prepare or validate the SOW / work orders inclusive of scope and milestones, acceptance criteria for the Project.
  • Negotiate on resources, time, scope, milestones within the scope of the Project.
  • Identify key acceptance criteria items, key dependencies and complexity to be managed.
  • Plan and track work packages under purview.
  • Understand and manage intercomponent dependencies within a work package and interwork package dependencies.
  • Validate that the requirements given are ready and full to be taken up by the Technical Lead and the team.
  • Identify gaps in requirements vs the envisaged high level scope and milestone (including NFRs, usability, user adoption and other implicit requirements).
  • Identify and drive corrective actions.
  • Resolve any escalated issues and escalate further, as required.
  • Liaise with relevant stakeholders (onsite Project team, horizontal teams, client team, Delivery Manager, Program Manager, etc) as required.

Have your eyes glazed over yet? (Incidentally, these items represent only about 20 percent of the responsibilities listed, but that’s another issue, one that is also off-putting.)

The job may be exciting and challenging, but a would-be candidate’s first reaction, based on the corporate speak in this ad, isn’t likely to be “what a great job, must apply.”

Are you losing job applicants because of your lingo?

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.