Concretizing clichés


Job advertisements have something extremely important to say about our working life.

“Looking for a proactive person with cooperation skills and an energetic and inspiring approach to work. You need to be able to communicate fluently and perform in front of an audience, and know how to listen to others and share information with other people.”

Before you decide to leave this site, please listen to what I have to say: although I’m sure some have started wagging their finger on reading the advertisement above, my intention is not to laugh at all the clichés in job advertisements.

“His negotiation skills weren’t convincing.” “He dominated the situation, didn’t listen and constantly talked out of turn.” “He said nothing about anything and found it challenging to talk about his strengths.”

These are just a few examples of the reasons supervisors aren’t impressed by some job applicants in interviews. (Of course, such findings are not limited to recruitment processes. A similar lack of social skills is evident in everyday activities when people meet their colleagues and partners around coffee machines, in open-plan offices and conference rooms.)

We’d like to hire some communication skills!

What these made-up quotes based on true events have in common is that they all focus on skills related to communication and interaction. Go to the most popular recruitment portals, and you’ll see it too: job advertisements scream for talent in interaction skills.

Supervisors frequently report that although professional skills may be spot on, there seem to be large question marks when it comes to communication in the real world. After all, it is often much easier to develop professional skills than working and operating methods.

Competence needs in flux

However, these clichés have something concrete to say to us: the skills and competence required in working life are looking for a new structure. Leaving all the clichés aside, job advertisements represent the skills needed in today’s working life, based as it is on networks and cooperation, pretty well. Perhaps these empty clichés are not completely pointless – or at least they pretty realistically indicate what the current hottest trends in working life are.

To guard against any false conclusions, I should say that I’m not overly excited about all the clichés in job advertisements; after all, when a certain expression becomes more popular, it starts to lose its effectiveness. If you want to be impressive, concretize your clichés – say what they mean in this particular position and why they are so important.

Needs for competence and especially their impact are facing changes in recruitment processes. This should also be remembered when considering your value in the employment market and your need of professional development.

The blog has been written by HR-professional Milla Kansonen