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Platforms, pipelines, ecosystems, and hubs

platformsAs with most industries, the recruiting industry is partial to faddish names and acronyms. ATS, PPC, ‘talent pipeline’, RPO, ‘hiring marketplace’, PPA, platforms, and so on, and so on. As systems grow in complexity, so do the names describing them – and then people rebel against ‘applicant tracking system’ and decide on ATS. I understand – I’m lazy, too!

I don’t think names and acronyms are bad or good – they are simply inevitable. But for newcomers to the industry – or someone on the other end of a casual dinner conversation – they can be frightening by making recruiting sound like a cross between government regulation and some weird human-based oil industry (have you ever noticed how many of the popular recruiting terms seem to come from the energy world, like pipelines and platforms and hubs and ‘drilling down for talent’?).

So why am I bringing this up? Because as a job board (or talent platform or sourcing tool or talent ecosystem or…well, whatever), you interact with two primary audiences: candidates and employers. Candidates can be anyone (literally) and they most likely: a) have no knowledge of recruiting industry lingo; and b) have no desire to know about recruiting industry lingo. Employers are more of a mixed bag in terms of ‘lingo knowledge’. Depending on their size, sophistication in hiring, and internal structure, they may know every term you can throw at them (and then some), or they may know a few stray terms but not even truly understand those.

Think about it: of your two audiences, you have one (candidates) that don’t want to hear weird terms from you. They just want simple, understandable communication. Example: instead of ‘you can apply through ABC Company’s ATS’, they want this: ‘Click the button and apply directly on ABC’s site.’ If you use the word ATS, it is at best confusing and at worst a big slowdown in the process, as the candidate tries to figure out what exactly you mean.

And then your other audience? Well, odds are better they’ll understand your industry jargon – but you also run the risk of confusing them, because who wants to admit that they don’t actually know what a piece of jargon means? A good middle path is to include some questions, like ‘are you familiar with PPC?’. If they’re not, you can explain it to them – and become less of a salesperson and more of a teacher. Guess what? Teachers make lots of sales!

Face it – we all get caught up in jargon and acronyms ever now and then. They are efficient – especially when the person you’re communicating with understands them. But as with many things in life, you should not assume that your listener understands you. Make it easy on them. Keep it simple and clear. Save your jargon for the next industry conference!

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