Have you ever read a job advert and had absolutely no clue what the role actually is? According to research from Business in the Community, this is actually a major barrier for recruiting young people.
Over the course of a year, young people aged 16 to 24 were asked to rate how accessible over 65 companies’ entry level job adverts were. Overall, young job-seekers were put off applying when they came across as “business-speak” like meaningless acronyms and pointless phrases.
The study found that two thirds (66%) didn’t understand the role they would be applying for, and over a third of job descriptions they read contained unclear jargon or off-putting technical language.
Some of the least understood words and phrases were “SLAs,” “procurement,” “fulfillment service,” “KPIs,” “compliance,” and “mergers and acquisitions.” Do you know what most of those mean? Neither do I.
The problem was the job adverts weren’t making clear what the roles would actually be, meaning many young people were left feeling they “didn’t deserve” a role, or were “not good enough” to apply due to being intimidated and unsure of what they would be facing.
BITC came to the conclusion that companies should cut jargon completely from their job adverts to encourage young people to apply.
“We know that understanding jargon is not a measure of a young person’s potential and it doesn’t mean that they are a better candidate for the job,” said Mark Bevan, the Director of Business in the Community Scotland.
“For young people who don’t have previous experience in an industry or access to networks, we’re concerned that the prevalence of ‘business speak’ in job adverts could inadvertently be limiting their opportunities,” he added. “This is also a problem for business because it means employers could be missing out on great talent.”
It’s not just a matter of finding employees, either. Research has shown that using office jargon could actually make the workplace less efficient.
According to a survey by American Express OPEN, 88% of US workers pretend to understand business-speak, even when they don’t have a clue what it means. As it turns out, nobody is doing anything to change their habits either, as 64% of people admitted they still regularly use jargon words or phrases.
As well as being filled with buzzwords, job adverts in the BITC study were also found to not contain basic information. For example, one in three didn’t mention a salary, two in five didn’t state working hours, and one in seven didn’t even give a specific location. Over half of job adverts didn’t outline the stages of the recruitment process and 63% didn’t state how long it was.
“Crafting a compelling job description is essential for employers to attract the best, most qualified candidates for an open role,” Bill Richards, UK Managing Director at global job site Indeed, told Business Insider. “The key to writing effective job descriptions is to find the perfect balance between providing enough detail so candidates understand the role and the company, while keeping the description concise. Make every word count.”
According to Indeed data, if a job advert is between 700 and 1,100 characters long, it sees an average 30% increase in apply rate.
It also shows that job titles with buzzwords like “ninja,” “rockstar,” “jedi,” “wizard,” and “guru,” are on the decline.
“It’s better to use skills and phrases that people will actually search for,” Richards said. “If you are hiring a ‘Java Developer,’ call it that. This is the space to showcase your brand’s personality, and to communicate your values and commitment.”
He added: “Today’s top talent is motivated by a company’s mission, which should not be missing from a job description.”
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