Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

The Problem With Buzz Words

2010-10-18 07:01:35

In recruiting, I see, hear and (yes) use them all the time. The definition of "buzz words" (courtesy of Wikipedia) is "a term of art or technical jargon that has begun to see use in the wider society outside of its originally narrow technical context by nonspecialists who use the term vaguely or imprecisely." Recruiting is about sales and marketing as much as anything else. Selling my job to the candidate, and my candidate to the hiring manager. I have to be familiar with how to market concepts, skills, projects, company value, relevant experience. So I "get" the use of marketing jargon.

But what I often find is candidates that use "buzz words" on their resumes or in conversations incorrectly, out of context, or as hard factual concepts rather than what they are (and they are NOT key words, for the record). For example, I have been speaking with fairly recent MBA graduates. And one thing almost all of them list as a *must have* for their next opportunity is "mentoring".

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be in an environment where you can learn from more experienced co-workers. But when you tell me one of your *top three things that must be present in a job* includes "mentoring", to me that speaks of a structured HR-sponsored program where someone is assigned to you to guide you through your career. And quite honestly, that says to me that you aren't self-directed and that you are looking to someone else to map out your career development, much as a parent with a child. And in the real world, at the level I am recruiting at, that is not necessarily the impression
you want to make.

I was discussing this with one of my colleagues and she was the one who pointed out that "mentor" is a new MBA buzz word. Be that as it may, it's vitally important that young professionals understand the image they portray in how they answer questions. If you tell me in one sentence you want to be a VP or GM, then in the next tell me that you must have someone show you how to map out your career, that doesn't create a cohesive picture.

When a candidate speaks to a recruiter/HR representative for the first time, the recruiter is gauging their communication skills and if their experience and career goals map to the opportunities available at a company. I'm currently working with a Global 100 company that looks for independent thinking, self-management, and drive in all their candidates. Hopefully you can see how the impressions I'm receiving and the candidate profile I'm seeking don't necessarily mesh.

So make sure when you are discussing your next opportunity with someone that you don't turn them off by using "buzz words" and concepts in a way that isn't going to put you in the best light.

You Say "honest and forthright", I say "bitter and sarcastic"
Is Your Shorthand Language Making You a Mediocre Candidate?

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