Do You Write HR Jargon?

Earlier this month I received a totally unexpected and exciting email from a woman named Deb Silverberg.  Deb is part of the Social Communications team at AARP, dealing with financial security and work issues. She sent an email asking if I was  interested in becoming a regular guest blogger for AARP, addressing work and HR issues for the over 50 crowd.

The fact that I am over 50 and already blogging about work and HR issues is obviously an advantage for this kind of gig. 😉

In her email, Deb explained how she found me and that she had read some of my blog posts. She was particularly interested in me, she said, because ” your content was refreshingly void of HR-speak and jargon, which isn’t always easy to find in the HR world.”

HR jargon? No one really uses that, do they?

Sentences like

“The idea is to determine whether an innovation warrants further exploration, not to generate a business case or estimate ROI, as too little is known about the innovation to assess the business case effectively.”


. . .  strongest driver of improvement in performance within the strategy domain.”

or maybe

“With the apprenticeship scheme both parties are signing up to the idea of a structured training program, and you can really spend some time ensuring that the apprentice is building a full tool-box of techniques that will help them perform, whilst also not only developing best practice but also learning about how we do things here and fitting in with our approach rather than picking up bad habits or questionable ethics in desperation to bring in results.”

Yes, those are all examples from actual HR blogs. I could have added dozens, right?

There are other people in the HR blog world taking a stand against this type of writing. The people at the KnowHR blog are particularly great at speaking in plain English and speaking out against  the over-use of jargon. And The Cynical Girl Laurie Ruettimann recently wrote

We get it. You are smart. But blogs are meant to entertain.

HR jargon is not entertaining.

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WANTED: State Governor;No Exp Necessary

I have been attending an online conference called The Career Summit 2010, which is about finding, seeking, or keeping a job. In the session titled “Job Search 2.0”, Anita Bruzzeze was discussing what employers were demanding in this new market; they expect huge amounts of flexibility from the job candidate,  wanting them to perform multiple functions and across disciplines.  She commented that “you would have to be Batman to fill some of these jobs.”

As someone who has been reading job postings for over two years, that comment really hit home.  Consider this recent job post for an HR Director at a community college in metro Detroit:

So to be an HR Director at a community college you need – or someone thinks you need – to be a lawyer (“preferred”) with significant experience in collective bargaining and considerable experience in HR planning and development, and at least 5 years of HR supervisory experience with all these things – at a community college.  Don’t forget the benefits administration and ability to manage integrated software systems.

It’s particularly frustrating for job seekers to be confronted with these pie-in-the-sky requirements when CEOs of companies, such as Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, and Rick Snyder,  feel that they can become state governors or senators without any specific qualifications and no elective position experience at all.  They use the term “career politicians” to mock those that have dedicated their careers to elective positions, and claim that their business savvy somehow automatically qualifies them to step into a position that requires coalition building and consensus establishment.  I would like them to submit a comprehensive statement – like the requirement in the job post above – of their experience with and approach to passing effective legislation that will solve the problems of our states and country.

What do you think? Are we asking too much of our potential employees and not enough of our elected officials?

(My thanks to Scott Bragg for inspiring this blog post.)Enhanced by Zemanta