HR-speak at its worst

A reader forwarded me this wonderfully bad piece of HR-speak, which had landed in his inbox:

Grow your talent pool at no charge: Recruit skilled XYZers with Right Management

Right Management is a global leader in talent and career management workforce solutions within the ManpowerGroup and their mission is to help you grow talent, reduce costs and accelerate performance. They deliver solutions to align talent strategy with business strategy. 

XYZ and Right Management are providing you with the opportunity to have talent transitioning out of XYZ get direct access to your available job openings. Registration with Right Management’s job database, Right Job Opportunities, will get you started and there is no cost to participate.

(Text somewhat anonymised to protect the illiterate)

Or, in other words:

Please, please, please take some of XYZ’s cast-offs or our client will end up with a stack of lawsuits. If you’ve got any jobs going, do list them in Right Management’s database. We won’t even charge you!

If the original appeals to you more than my version, here are seven tips for sounding like a Right Management pro.

1. Mix your metaphors
Is a workforce like a plant? Or more like a body of water? Can’t decide? Then start with a strong image like grow your talent pool.

2. Don’t get straight to the point
Your readers have time on their hands. So start by bigging-up yourself with some corporate throat-clearing about you being a global leader in something or other.

3. Bombard your reader with abstract nouns
In recruitment? Not sure how to describe what you do? Then assemble a load of HR-y sounding abstractions like talent, career management and workforce. Just add solutions and here’s your USP: being a global leader in talent and career management workforce solutions.

4. Remind people you’re on a “mission”
You’re the guys who put the mission into commission! Because creaming off a fee for every hapless bod you add to your list of situations vacant is somewhere between religious calling, military reconnaissance and space flight.

5. Take an intransitive verb and give it an object
In normal language, things accelerate. But you can accelerate things – and abstract things like performance, at that. My, aren’t you impressive?

6. Keep saying solutions
This word is especially powerful when used in a sentence that contains other clichés of the corporate lexis, like deliver, align, talent and strategy.

7. Verbify a word that’s usually a noun (see what I did there?)
Transition may usually be a noun, but it sounds much more impressive as a verb.

Admittedly, my dictionary lists undergo or cause to undergo a process or period of transition as a secondary meaning of transition, but with the caveat chiefly N. Amer.

So not only are you fudging the whole question of whether these hapless XYZers are “undergoing” or “being caused to undergo” the chance to be listed on Right Management’s job database. You’re also giving yourself an impressively transatlantic twang – nice!

9 comments so far . . . come and pitch in!

  1. How do you grow a pool? Water it? Or would that be gilding the lily?

  2. Kevin Mills says:

    I’m worried now that I don’t possess a talent strategy.

  3. Paul Eveleigh says:

    A company that doesn’t use plain English to sell its products will struggle to succeed. Your example, Clare, shows why.

  4. Robert says:

    Loved the blog on Right Management’s marketing delivery – Lummy, who could possibly have written that stuff?? – Sadly it really kicks some of those who work for them in the UK, in the dust, having met some of their consultants, they are really committed, good, knowledgeable, and actually very helpful. I realise this is only a straw poll of a small sample, but it does seem to demonstrate that “marketing” and “delivery” are not terribly connected !!

  5. Clare Lynch says:

    Interesting comment, Robert. Proves the point that if you want really great marketing copy, talk to the people who are actually doing the work. This writer obviously didn’t!

  6. Helen says:

    Oh, ‘opportunity’, my old friend. Fancy seeing you here.

  7. Greg says:

    #5 is supposed to say “take an intransitive verb and give it an object.” Transitive verbs, by definition, require an object. Intransitive verbs are the ones that don’t have objects.

    Although I agree that “accelerate performance” sounds like jargon, the first definition of “accelerate” in Merriam-Webster Unabridged is for its transitive verb form. M-W says that the first known use of “accelerate” was as a transitive verb in 1530.

  8. Clare Lynch says:

    Thanks for pointing out the typo, Greg. I will go in and correct it straight away. Just goes to show – even professional writers miss things.

  9. Drayton Bird says:

    I did retweet – or whatever it’s called – this splendid piece. Made my evening. Thank you.

    I see that you, like me, are “proudly” powered by Word Press.

    People take pride in the oddest things, don’t they? I am proudly wearing underpants from H & M. It’s all I can do not to take them off and show everyone I know. Maybe even complete strangers.

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