Anyone who knows me, follows me or has had the pleasure of engaging with me in the odd Twitter chat or two knows that I hate – nay, despise – buzzwords. Business speak. That gobbledy gook of catchphrases and say nothing terminology that some organizations even have an in house dictionary for. You know, if you need an in house dictionary for your staff…..you might have communication problems.
Anyhow, as I’ve been know to say a time or two (or ten)……
Buzzwords Kill Kittens!
Kitten Killers Anonymous
Well, I’m about to ‘fess up. I just *killed at least ten kittens. Probably more. And I was quite literally forced to do it. I know, I know, it’s so easy to blame others. But this time, it’s the truth.
I submitted a job application that was lousy with buzzwords. Crawling with them, in fact. And I did it in order to get through one of two things (or both):
- Keyword scanning software
- The Human Resources department
It’s no secret that these days many companies from the Fortune 500 down use software to digitally scan your resume looking for relevant keywords – when they find them, your resume gets flagged as ‘interesting’ (LOL!) and sent on to a human being.
Pity The HR Employee
In many cases – and please, with all due respect to those who toil in the field – the person it ends up with works in Human Resources, which for many large organizations is about as far removed from the day to day world of the job you’re applying for as chalk is to cheese. So what are these poor HR people looking for when they scan your resume and/or cover letter…? I’ll tell you one thing – they aren’t looking for character, personality, sense of humour, or attitude. They’re looking for keywords! Boom – dead kittens.
Hire For Attitude
Fast Company magazine co-founder Bill Taylor wrote about this in Harvard Business Review. In the article, he focusses on three diverse companies – ING Direct, Southwest Airlines and the Special Care Center in Atlantic City. All three have realized that “…you can’t create something special, distinctive, and compelling in the marketplace unless you build something special, distinctive, compelling in the workplace. And the best way to build something special in the workplace is to hire for attitude and train for skill.” Now that’s what I’m talking about.
Who Are You Missing?
Understandably, not every company has the resources and/or infrastructure to be such tangential thinkers – to seek out and then train, coach and value the person behind the resume, and spend the time figuring out what makes them tick. And I get that organizations are inundated with thousands of resumes, and need an efficient way to separate the wheat from the chaff. But in my opinion, keyword scanning software (and other types of simplistic keyword scanning) just isn’t it. These days, at most companies, in every industry, tens of thousands of qualified candidates won’t even get an interview, let alone a call back, because they haven’t used the correct buzzwords.
In my case, I had a connection who was able to feed me some ‘inside baseball’. I was told flat out to use catchphrases and buzzwords (meoowww!) gleaned directly from the job description itself. As many as possible. The jargon’ier the better in fact! Because if I didn’t – fact – there was no chance it would clear through HR, and eventually, possibly, maybe reach the desk of the person with whom I might actually be working.
So, with a heavy heart, I wrote the dang thing. A faustian deal. Because if my package reaches said person, all they’ve got is a buzzword filled bunch of baloney that says exactly nothing about me, the person. It’s void of character. Void of personality. Definitely void of kittens. I had to kill them all to get an interview!
I Heart Kittens & So Should You
Presumably you’re hoping to hire a human being. Someone with charm and wit and quirks and quarks. God only knows how many people you’ll have to interview, how much time you’ll have to waste and how many *wrong* hires you’ll have to make to find that person. Because the only resumes on your desk are as rote and mechanical as the system you’re using to narrow down your candidates.
With all the outstanding people out there working with and creating incredible new software platforms every day – can’t we find a better way? Can’t we make this inefficient system of sourcing candidates stop?
Please. I beg of you. Think of the kittens.
*NOTE: No kittens were actually harmed in the writing of the aforementioned job application. Or this blog post.
Would love your thoughts on this subject. Are you job hunting and dealing with the same keyword crap? Maybe you think it’s a great way to get your resume to the top of the pile? Maybe you hate kittens…!? Please share below.