Dear Human Resources: WTF Is Going On With Your Job Ads?

human resources are confusing the job market

Dear Human Resources (or is it People & Culture now?),

I hope this email finds you well.

I’m just reaching out – yep, there’s another millennial favourite – to ask you the one burning question troubling my entire generation…WTF?

Back on the job market after retrenchment, and anxiously combing the situations vacant listings, an errant keystroke somehow sucked me through a wormhole into a parallel world riddled with acronyms and nonsensical gobbledygook.

I’m suddenly in an Orwellian dimension of internal and external stakeholders, KPI’s, SEO optimisers, atomisers, and FY18 strategists, to name just a few.

They’re running riot in this strange new land and taking no prisoners.

Take for example, the below extract from a recent advertisement that a colleague in your, um, ‘industry’ framed for a Media Advisor for a large city council in Victoria.

“The Media Adviser works with aligned communications advisers and a broad group of internal stakeholders to deliver integrated media and communications strategies to enhance and protect the City of Melbourne’s reputation and keep the community informed of key Council activities.”

Knowing where to insert a full stop into a sentence seems optional.

And in another recent job ad for a Senior Editorial Manager at a popular Sydney-based lifestyle website there was a staggering 32 bullet-pointed ‘major duties and responsibilities’ listed under sub-heads of ‘content strategy and production’, ‘process management’, and ‘human resources’.

The unfortunate soul who lands this fruitless task may want to stash a box of Snickers in the top draw to keep their energy levels up.

Now, before you go labelling me an online-illiterate curmudgeon, who is exactly the person that advertisements such as the above are aiming to discourage, it may come as news to you that I’m not alone in flagging this wholesale butchering of the Queen’s English.

In fact, several of your contemporaries, past and present, have come out in support of my stand against this jargon monoxide poisoning the job market.

Suzanne Williams, a 10-year veteran of the HR world who now runs a holistic career and lifestyle coaching business, confides to 50 So What that the ads you so painstakingly craft more often than not aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

Her advice is to not be dissuaded by the wording, or over-the-top demands, because if you can just find the stomach to decipher the job ad language and land an interview you’re half-way home.

“Your personality, motivation, transferable skills and your individuality is far more important than having ‘five years of relationship management experience’ or whatever the relevant demand is,” says the founder of Grace & Grind.

“The corporate world, in particular, has been inundated with external consultants – generally for the purposes of strategy and company development – who use terminology to appear more “expert” in an area or professional.

“The truth is, they are unable to explain a principle in simple terms and these words help to divert attention. This language and ‘buzz words’ permeate through a company and I have seen first-hand the parrot effect when others use their language throughout the organisation also to appear more intelligent.”

Paul Di Michiel spent 25 years battling corporate HR-speak before pivoting off to run his own career coaching business for the over-40s, The Career Medic.

He’s worked with over 1000 clients in that time and has seen first-hand the confidence knock these ads can have on the 50[ish] employee trying to re-enter the workforce.

“It’s like they’re trying to confuse us with ridiculous jargon and colourful verbiage. It’s just crazy and quite commonplace,” says Paul.

“They want it to reflect the culture and nature of the tribe there, and if you don’t go in and speak the same language you’re frowned upon, absolutely.”

Another current recruiter in the engineering and technical world, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, says ageism is often lurking in the subtext of these ridiculous ads.

He sees it all the time in descriptors like ‘dynamic’ and ‘culture-fit’, human resource euphemisms for ‘don’t bother applying if you’re of a certain age’.

Well, I’m here to say, we know what you’re up to, and it’s time to file your tailored product solutions with your product road maps where the sun don’t shine.

Until you do, the company you work for is missing out on the chance to hire someone who will work harder than any ‘Rock Star’ or ‘Ninja’, and then mentor those who are younger once they’ve got their feet under the desk.

This ‘innovative self-starter’ really can’t put it in any simpler language than that.

Looking forward to your feedback.

  • The Career Medic Paul Di Michiel reveals more insider insights here into what’s behind this intimidating HR epidemic – where he also decodes some recent postings to show you how ludicrous and unnecessary this language has become. If you have any more examples of corporate vomitus we’d love to read about it in the comments section below.