Why Corporate Jargon is Inefficient, Common-Sense Depriving Nonsense of Limited Empirical Value. Or, in Common Speak: Total BS.

Corporate jargon

The job interview: Just like the resume, but in 3D…

If there’s one form of writing I despise with absolute passion, it would be resume writing.

The most deceiving of all official documents, forcing you to cram all those life ‘achievements’, ‘skills’ and ‘talents’ into the space of a few egocentric pages. A document which often translates relatively straightforward and basic information into one big, pretentious farce.

Throughout my teenage years, my hatred of resume writing led me to put off actually compiling one of my own until I was almost 19 years of age and no longer sheltered by the job-free joys of high school life. It was not until I had finished my HSC and had reached a point of desperation in terms of financial independence (i.e. started feeling guilty about sponging off the wondrous financial institution that is the Bank of Mum and Dad) that I finally gave in to the new-world, corporate based, individualistic nonsense that is the resume.

Unfortunately, I was never genetically graced with my dad’s mastery of this ridiculous job market jargon. But thankfully, I didn’t need to go at this dreaded task alone, with this unusually adept resume writer at my disposal offering to help get this 19-year undertaking over and done with.

The whole newspeak of the business world has just never sat well with me. More recently, it’s this type of language that has been exploited and churned out by big business, PR agents and the old crowd favourite- politicians -time and time again. While it’s with some relief that those on the receiving end of this corporate spin have wised up to this subtle yet overpowering manipulation, this language continues to live on through the resume. At the end of the day, isn’t it the subtle manipulation of others to view us in a positive light that we aim to achieve through our professional portfolios, right?

They’re the phrases and buzzwords I now cringe at whenever I hear them uttered- “moving forward”, “thinking outside the box”, “raising the bar”, “spring boarding”… I am struggling to think of any other set of phrases that send deep, tingling chills down my spine quite like these. What a wonderful world it would be if these corporate clichés could be completely obliterated from the English language! But it’s these very words that form the foundation of the prime entry point into corporate communication. Of course, it’s the (not-so-humble) resume.

If I was to compare the resume to a person, he would fall into the category of that irritating, friend of a friend who you can’t seem to get away from at social gatherings. He’ll be the one to boast shamelessly about his absolute magnificence at dinner parties: the academic, jock, prefect, musician and all-round ‘cool guy’. But while he may seem like the complete package on the surface, he’ll rarely deliver on these self-declared ‘skills’ and ‘talents’. In reality, he’ll be a walking Comic Sans, disguised as Times New Roman.

When compiling my resume, I attempted with unrivalled determination to eliminate as much corporate jargon from the document as possible. But somehow, as I typed my final full stop, what lay before me were those creeping elements of corporate pretence. Somehow, during the process, things as simple as “What I’ve done with my life” became “Demonstrated skills and capacities”. “Working in an office filling out an excel spreadsheet” became “Professional administration assistant with a proficient knowledge of the workings of Microsoft Office applications.” A former cash-in-hand tutoring job for a family friend suddenly transformed me into a “Self-employed, educational entrepreneur”. And basic entry-level office administration positions gave me the titles such as “Coordinator” or “Officer”.

So there is was. In the short space of 500~ words, I had become the most darn efficient, time managing, problem solving, team playing, goal oriented person I had ever encountered. And there was no going back. The person I had created was so passionate about customer service, even the least gullible employer would be led to believe I actually enjoy selling mass-produced, unethical, imported goods to the basest human beings ever to walk the earth.

In this process, I never once set out to dishonestly bolster my professional standing through being manipulative or expanding upon the truth. As far as I was concerned, all the educational and work experience I had listed was entirely legitimate. But somewhere in the midst of compiling my own resume, the grip of corporate jargon had taken hold, and the document I had produced was further evidence of its cold, unrelenting grasp.