How to Speak the Language of Hiring

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How to Speak the Language of Hiring


Re-Blogged from


Take two people: the hiring manager and the job applicant. While these two should be interacting with the kind of simpatico of best friends, the hiring process can be so convoluted that they end up speaking different languages.

Online recruitment platform Bright looked at 1 million job descriptions and 1 million resumes. They teased out the most frequent terminology used by both hiring managers and job seekers and compared the two.

In addition to a phenomenal number of commonly misspelled words, the results indicated that the two were indeed at odds on several points. According to Bright’s analysis:

Hiring managers are interested in the quality of experience, but applicants highlight mostly actions.


The presence in job descriptions of adjectives such as “exceptional,” “excellent,” “essential,” “competitive,” “comprehensive,” “positive,” and “dedicated,” not to mention “quality” itself, show that hiring managers are very interested in the quality of a candidate’s experience, but many fewer such terms appear on resumes. Instead, people tend to highlight the action that they have taken in their positions, by including verbs such as “managed,” “performed,” “created,” “worked,” and “assisted.”

Managers want to know how candidates will work if hired but candidates focus on their education.

In the job description list, words like “teamwork,” “responsible,” and “environment” point out that hiring managers also consider how candidates will work with others if hired. Job seekers place much more emphasis on education in their resumes than hiring managers do in job descriptions.

What’s a worthy candidate to do?


Donna Svei, a professional resume and LinkedIn profile writer, says for starters, there’s one important thing to remember. “Hiring managers don’t read very many resumes, the applicant tracking system (ATS) reads them.”

Software doesn’t care how splendid your template is or how liberally it’s sprinkled with keywords. The electronic sweep can be too sensitive to digest any fancy tables or fonts, and too sophisticated to fall for a barrage of the same search term. Graphic geeks take heart though, fonts do matter when the resume is scanned by human eyes. There’s a whole psychology behind those serifs.

If your resume is up to software snuff, the recruiter (either within the company or externally) will get it and do a further parsing of potential candidates before passing a selected bunch to the hiring manager. Svei says while it’s great to be able to deliver a resume directly to a human, the truth is that even candidates recommended by colleagues, friends or family tend to be handed over to someone else for screening.“Write for the computer, then the recruiter, then the hiring manager,” Svei advises.


The best way to do this is to be specific. Erin Kennedy, one of only a few professionals worldwide to achieve “Certified Master Resume Writer” distinction, says that she’s noticed applicants trying to massage their resumes to fit four or five very different positions. “Hiring managers are looking for specialized skills,” she asserts. It’s best to narrow it down to two things and pop that into the summary area up top to add the most punch, Kennedy suggests.


Certainly it’s most appropriate to toot your own horn when a new job is on the line. Bright’s analysis discovered that superlatives actually pepper job descriptions, but that doesn’t mean it’s always appropriate to use them. Kennedy says that, while you could get away with using “excellent,” “That’s your opinion. It is much more important to stay focused on what you’ve done.”

And make sure that if you’re doing something in your current position, your language reflects that. Bright’s survey found that many candidates used past tense, which is fine for… Read more.


About Author

Scott Rosen

Want to know why 90% of the NJ, NY, DE and PA companies who work with us for their HR staffing needs (including Merck, Rutgers, PNC Bank, Daimer-Chrysler, Pfizer, SAP America and 150+ others) either re-hire our firm or refer us? We specialize exclusively in the Direct-Hire and Contract Placement of Human Resources Professionals including EVP of HR, VP of HR, Human Resources Manager, Compensation Manager, HR Generalist, Benefits Manager & Training Managers. The Rosen Group is one of very few firms in the NJ, NY, PA, and DE area that focuses on one, single area all day, every day – Recruiting and assessing HR talent! Our low-volume (2-3 positions filled per week, 8-12 per month and 100 per year), highly-consultative “super-niche” approach means that I will send you the right candidates – the first time (and typically within 1 week). For example 98% of our HR contractors complete their assignments, 50% are extended and 30% to 40% receive permanent offers! We’re giving Fortune 500 companies, SMBs and nonprofit organizations access to the best and brightest HR candidates. We have a database of thousands of HR executives with a wide range of experience, expertise and talent at all levels all the way up to the VP HR level. Plus we use social media and employment branding strategies to get your opportunities in front of top candidates. We're committed to the professional growth and development of the HR executives that we place for clients. That’s why I founded the HR Executive Alliance and the Talent Acquisition Leadership Alliance and have created the HR Department of the Year Awards. Maybe this is why the Rosen Group is one of the Inc 500 Fastest Growing Companies (Number 147!) – and why 90% of our clients refers us or rehire us.