10 September 2008

Clichés, tautologies, vagueness and other rubbish found in recruitment advertising

This article originally appeared in Issue 49 of InSight Published 10 September 2008

Recruiters are in the recruitment game because (presumably) they are more interested in working in a competitive, results-focused, people-oriented environment than in working in a placid and predictable environment.

Amongst the many great skills that recruiters do possess, it appears advertisement writing is not one of them. There is no excuse for poor literacy and the predictable, dull and cliché-ridden recruitment advertisements that are a dime-a-dozen in the press and online media.

Here are my major dislikes:

‘born leader'
If you gained any of your leadership skills after you soiled your first nappy then don't bother applying.

‘exciting opportunity'
Out of Seek.com.au's 212,061 current vacancies, 31,581 are listed as an ‘exciting opportunity' (do the search yourself if you don't believe me).

‘team player'
You need to be as much of a ‘yes-person' as everyone else in the team.

‘proven track record'
As distinct from an unproven track record.

‘can-do attitude'
Can-do what exactly?

'strong candidate'
We ask you to bench press 80kg as part of the interview process.

 ‘true visionary'
As distinct from a false visionary.

‘you need 5 years experience in...'
Too bad if you have the necessary competencies to do the job but only have 4 years experience, we aren't interested.

‘previous experience'
As distinct from future experience.

‘highly motivated person'
Highly motivated by what? Finishing work at 5pm, going surfing, gossiping about others, sitting on Facebook all day?

‘dynamic organisation'
Thankfully for job seekers, the number of ‘dynamic organisations' matches the number of ‘exciting opportunities'!

‘flexible person'
If you can't touch your toes without bending your knees then you're stuffed.

‘outstanding communication skills'
Written? Verbal? One-on-one? Small group? Large group? Internal? External? Up-line? Down-line?

‘suitable for a man or a woman'
As distinct from a cat or a dog.

I'm not expecting recruiters to be penning prose like JK Rowling or Tim Winton but I do expect more time, thought and care to be apparent in the $800 million dollars' worth of job advertisements that appear in Australia every year.

Remember - the more general and bland your job ad reads, the more general and bland the ad response is likely to be. The more distinct and interesting your job ad reads, the more distinct and interesting the ad response is likely to be.

There's no excuse for the rubbish that's served up daily to candidates. If your own name or your company's name is on the job ad then make it an ad to be proud of.

5 comments:

  1. Ross, I think all of your comments are valid but I also think that it would be useful to give people who use these cliches some alternatives to use.

    It's very easy to fall into the trap of reiterating the same old stuff when writing an ad - and it's much harder to engage the imagination when writing fifteen ads a day.

    Although a special thanks must go out to all the consultants who lack imagination when describing their client. Copying and pasting from the client website seems to be a current favourite technique with many consultants and its brilliant! *whispering to Ross* They obviously dont realise that if a rival consultant copies and pastes the wording into a Google search the client webpage will come straight up and hey presto your competitor knows that there is a job on with your client!

    Advertising is too easy these days. Back in the day when we only had print advertising, a lot of thought went into what we advertised and the language that we used. But now that you can spend 30 seconds and post on 50 different job boards - people have got lazy.

    On an aside, I have been guilty of using 'a proven track record'. I have used it for years. And the reason I use it is because I am very careful not to say 'you need at least 5 years experience'- which can be discriminatory. Can you give me a useful alternative for me to use than 'a proven track record'?

    Cheers
    Lisa :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hire a copywriter Lisa - they love delving in to their imagination 15 times a day. :)

      Delete
  2. Brilliant! Humour is the best way to expose the bleeding obvious.

    Mind if I quote you in my 'How To write Job Ads' guide?

    Cheers, Toby

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the feedback Lisa - agree that's it's easy to be a critic. I'll look at your suggestion for a future issue of InSight .

    A suggestion to replace 'track record' is 'demonstrated capability' or 'success in'

    Ross

    ReplyDelete
  4. Go ahead and quote anything from the article tha's useful to you, Toby.

    ReplyDelete