The Bland Language of Recruitment

The recruitment world can be a very lacklustre place when it comes to the words that illustrate it.

Take a look at any random job ad, regardless what company or job it’s for, and the chances are that the environment will be described as “fast-paced”, they want someone with a “can-do attitude” who can “hit the ground running” and who is “passionate and self-motivated”, ready to join a “dynamic and focused team” so they can “drive the business forward”.

On the other side of the coin, sifting through CVs for a variety of different roles reveal candidates who “work well on my own as well as in a team”, are “results-oriented individual(s)” who are “looking for a new challenge” and who feel that “this opportunity would really suit my skills and experience”.

When you’ve been examining these words as part of your job for as long as you can remember, in an attempt to successfully match one side with the other, your task becomes mentally exhausting very quickly.

Where’s the individuality – where’s the personality? How can anybody, company or candidate, possibly hope to stand out when everybody sounds exactly the same?

(Though I did see a job advertised last week that said the company wanted candidates to be able to “see the situation from a 30,000 feet perspective as well as at ground level” – which I must admit would be truly impressive. This ad wasn’t to work for an airline, in case you were interested!)

Individuality and personality are the solution to most recruitment problems. If you’re a company bemoaning the fact that you’re not attracting the best candidates, look at the words you’re using to recruit them. Do they read suspiciously like the examples above?

If they do, you’ll no doubt get a large number of responses, with varying levels of spelling and grammar, that sound suspiciously like the candidates above. Your recruitment process will be harder and take more time to complete; because you haven’t told people anything meaningful about your company’s personality and culture, you’re essentially making a best guess about the type of person who will suit them.

If you’re looking for a job, give your CV some energy by explaining your particular approach to the job. What makes you good at what you do? What makes you great for others to work with? It’s true that not all companies will connect with your particular style, but those that do will be a much better fit for your own personality and approach.

I once recruited a man who had added to the bottom of his covering letter: “P.S. – I make a damn fine cup of tea”. It enhanced his already very well-written application and gave me an idea of how he might fit in with the existing team (extremely well, as it turned out).

If you do nothing else after reading this, please spare a thought for the innocent people that actually have to examine your characterless ads and applications after you’ve released them into the real world! Your consideration would be very much appreciated.

For a CV or recruitment ad review, please get in touch.

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