Have you ever scanned through job ads when looking for a new role and found yourself wondering what the job advert is trying to say? You’ve read through the whole advert and you are still left trying to decipher what the vacancy is?
If you have then you are not alone. A recent survey by Milkround has revealed that job ad jargon is increasingly prevalent in adverts that are written to recruit graduates. But is it necessary? What do you think a good job ad should feature? Is the use of ‘business-speak’ and technical language what makes a great job ad?
For some of you, as employers, you might feel that jargon and technical language in your ads makes your company look professional and will therefore attract the interest of students and graduates.
Take a look at the list below. What do the following phrases mean to you?
- Hit the ground running
- Proven track record
- Thought shower
- Blue sky thinking
- Open the kimono
- Drinking the kool aid
- Growth hacking
- Brand architecture
- Low hanging fruit
Perhaps you recognise some of them from your own company’s recruitment vocabulary. And maybe some of them are used by staff around the office or workplace.
The bad news is, this list of phrases are phrases that have been highlighted in the survey of 2,000 graduates and other members of the UK workforce. And they haven’t been highlighted for positive reasons. In fact, these and other similar jargon could be actively repelling potential graduate applicants from applying for your vacant positions rather than attracting them.
Some Facts And Figures
Let’s take a look at some of the facts and figures that this survey has revealed. This is information that could help to shape your future recruitment language when it comes to creating your job ads so that you don’t miss out on that top young talent.
- 59% of those surveyed said they did not understand the phrases listed above. Whilst that fact may not seem too alarming, this 59% also added that, if they did come across jargon like this in a job advert, it would put them off applying for the role. That’s a lot of young talent lost right at the beginning of the recruitment process. If your company has used jargon like this in job ads, you are not even going to get to know if you have attracted the most suitable candidates for your role.
- 77% of graduates find job adverts ambiguous. Ambiguous language and jargon means they don’t understand the job advert. Again, this can put some young people off from applying for your job. Rather than it being a criticism of the language, jargon and ambiguous phrases can make some graduates feel unqualified for your role – if they don’t understand the language, they feel they won’t understand the job you have on offer. These are the young people who may go to look elsewhere for employment even if they are qualified for your role.
- 68% of graduates said they would prefer more clear job ads so that they understand the types of roles they are applying for.
- 48% of graduates have said they have gone for a job interview without really knowing about the job they are applying for. This is as a result of an ambiguous job ad. In this case, this could result in a lose-lose scenario rather than a win-win. You might employ a graduate not suited to the role or the graduate you employ may quickly realise your job isn’t for them after all so they look for work elsewhere. This is a waste of your valuable time and money because you will need to re-advertise your role and begin the recruitment process again. In the graduate’s case, they need to find another role.
As well as missing out on young talent, using jargon and cliches in your job ads can also restrict your efforts to create a diverse workplace. The survey also found that more women than men said they would be put off from applying for a role if they did not understand the job advert.
Women who did not understand the jargon said that this dented their confidence and it made them feel under-qualified for the role. Men, on the other hand, felt slightly more comfortable with the jargon.
A Recurring Problem
The results of this survey were reported in August 2019 but a quick search online will reveal to you that actually, the problem of jargon, cliches and technical language being used in job ads is nothing new.
Back in 2017, BITC (Business In The Community) carried out research amongst young people who were looking for work and asked them about their views on different job adverts. It appears that between these two sets of research, many companies are not heeding the views of young job seekers.
Let’s take a look at the some of the results from the 2017 BITC research:
The research was carried out with young people aged between 16 and 24 and, as with the 2019 research, many of the young people said they were put off from applying for some jobs because they simply didn’t understand the advert because of technical language and cliches.
The actual job description gets lots amongst all the jargon and young people are left clueless as to what the job they are considering applying for entails. This makes them feel like they are not qualified for the role.
What Can Companies Do To Make Sure They Don’t Miss Out On Young Talent?
So, what can companies do with their job adverts so that they attract, rather than repel, the best young candidates?
As with any piece of writing, writing a good job advert is all about taking your audience into consideration. Your advert needs to upsell your company as a great place to work whilst also explaining what the job vacancy is in clear and concise language.
Many employers believe that using jargon, buzz words and technical language in their job ads upsells the company and makes it look more of a professional outfit. The opposite, however, is often the case,when it comes to the recruitment of young people.
The Use Of Technical Language
When it comes to using technical language in your job ads, it’s about keeping in mind that there is a time and a place for it.
If you are recruiting graduates to a role that is highly technical and specialised, for example, and you are looking for people with specific qualifications for that role then, to a certain degree, you would expect candidates to be familiar with at least some technical terms.
However, there are also many occasions when technical language is going to have your potential applicants looking elsewhere for work because they feel under-qualified for your role. The circumstances could be:
- Graduate jobs where you are recruiting graduates from a variety of degree backgrounds into roles where you will be offering training. If you are simply recruiting graduates for their qualities and traits, don’t lose out on them by overloading them with technical language in the job ad. They can learn that language once they have got the job.
- Entry level jobs for school leavers. Job ads for entry level jobs often state ‘full training will be given.’ If you are offering full training to a young school leaver who has little or no previous work experience, technical language in your job advert is not necessary and could put some potential applicants off from applying.
- Lower level Apprenticeships – If you are advertising vacancies for Level 2 or Level 3 Apprenticeships, the young people applying for these positions are likely to have little or no previous work experience. Apprenticeships are all about equipping young people with the knowledge and skills to do particular jobs. Assuming knowledge by using technical language in your job ads could put off your best talent from applying.
Keep Your Job Ads Clear And Concise
Leaving out the jargon and the technical language from your job ads that are directed at young people can sometimes be a difficult task.
If you have worked in a particular sector or industry for a long time, this type of language might come as second nature to you. You may not realise just how much ‘business-speak’ you know and use – and this is a language that can come across as a foreign language to inexperienced school leavers and graduates.
A tip here would be to ask young people in your workplace to proofread your job ads that are targeting young recruits. Also ask them what they liked about the job ad that attracted them to your vacancies.
Rather than company or sector jargon and technical language, job ads for young people need to contain the basic information to attract them to your roles. This is information such as:
- Exact location of your company
- Working hours
- The recruitment process
- The length of the recruitment process
As well as this basic information, make every word count. Tell your potential candidates what your company is all about and what you have on offer for them.
Now you’ve got rid of that jargon from your job ads, take a look at some of our other tips for writing the perfect job ad. And some advice about what not to include in your job ad. Get your job ad right and you have cleared the first hurdle in recruiting that top young talent.
If you are recruiting school leavers, students and graduates to your company right now, place your ad with e4s and get access to a targeted audience.