New Research: Corporate jargon and corporate cliches in job descriptions

According to job description software company Datapeople, corporate jargon, corporate cliches, and soft skills in job posting language for tech jobs can confuse and deter qualified and unqualified job seekers alike.

A job listing is a window, says Datapeople, and it’s often the only view of a job and organization that potential candidates see. (External job ads used for recruiting, not internal job descriptions that used for human resources purposes.) Including things like corporate jargon, soft skills, and corporate cliches in job posting language is like smearing mud across the window.

Datapeople’s science team recently analyzed job listing data from over 10,000 U.S.-based employers and found a number of recruiting trends. Among them, researchers found some subtle shifts in job posting language (e.g., diminished use of soft skills) for tech jobs.

Corporate cliches take different forms in job posting language. They include corporate jargon, trending buzzwords, tired expressions, and other phrases. If the main purpose of a job posting is to inform job seekers about a position, phrases like ‘drive business growth’ and ‘think outside the box’ don’t clarify things, says Datapeople. Neither do references to key performance indicators (KPIs) or objectives and key results (OKRs) without explanations of what they mean.

Datapeople found that the use of corporate cliches in tech job descriptions hasn’t diminished. Over the last few years, about 18% of tech job posts have included a high level of cliches, corporate jargon, and the like. They appear most frequently in listings for less technical jobs and less frequently for more technical jobs. They also appear most frequently at traditional big tech companies (the largest technology-focused U.S.-based companies).

In 2019, about 25% of tech job posts included a high level of soft skills, according to Datapeople. That percentage was 14% lower in 2020 and 2021. Among new big tech companies, the percentage fell 43%, although it varied by individual company in some instances.

For the job seeker, expectations include the compensation and benefits they’ll receive and what they can expect regarding workplace culture, says Datapeople. Setting expectations is no small thing, and it requires clarity, not corporate jargon or meaningless soft skills.

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