Employers Love It When You Speak Their Language

When interviewing candidates or meeting someone at a professional event, I can tell how involved they are in managing call centres. How? By the words they use.

Specifically, I am referring to terminology call center professionals use, such as AHT (Average Handle Time), ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition), CTI (Computer Telephony Integration), and SLA (Service Level Agreement).

Code-like acronyms, technical terminologies, jargon, and business buzzwords… all industries and professions have a language. 

Speaking the language of the industry and profession of the job you are interviewing for demonstrates your knowledge and experience of the employer’s industry and your profession, making you credible and conveying that you are one of them. Since language is shared, it is a bonding agent. The words you use with your interviewer will be used to decide whether you are “a member of their club” and help create rapport. 

Using industry language is akin to a secret handshake. There is no need to learn a new language, like Kingon. You only need to know terms specific to your industry and profession and when to use them.

What terms and jargon are most commonly used in your profession and industry? 

  • Finance: Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), Aggressive Growth Fund, Beta, Expense Ratio
  • Marketing: A/B Testing, Bounce Rate, List Hygiene, Responsive Design
  • Social Media Management: Clickbait, Clickthrough Rate (CTR), Native Advertising, User Generated Content (UGC)
  •  Film: Crafy, C-Stand, C-47, Snot Tape 

When it comes to the hiring process, speaking the industry language is a game-changer; if not for nothing else, it shows you understand the ins and outs of your profession, which sets you apart from those candidates who, during their interview, do not speak “the language.”

Furthermore, incorporating jargon into your communication showcases your ability to adapt quickly within the workplace. Demonstrating “jargon fluency” shows you can seamlessly integrate into any team or project without excessive handholding or explanation.

Now that you are aware of why speaking the language of the employer’s industry and your profession will give you a competitive edge, here are some tips on how to competently speak jargon.

1. Research the company.

In addition to each industry and profession having its own language, companies often have their own as well. Before an interview, research in-depth the company and familiarize yourself with its jargon.

Imagine interviewing for a position at Apple and the positive impression you would make with your interviewer if you used Apple lingo such as AirDrop, A-Series BionicDeep Fusion and LiDAR Camera throughout the interview.

2. Use jargon sparingly. 

It is important not to overuse jargon to the point where it seems contrived. Only use relevant terms when appropriate.

3. Be confident. 

Whenever you use jargon, do so confidently. Practice incorporating industry and profession-specific terms into your professional conversations, so they become second nature.

4. Customize your language.

There is a time and place for everything, including jargon. Consider your audience when choosing your language. 

This is important. More than once, I made the mistake of using call centre jargon with a recruiter or HR unfamiliar with it. Only use industry-specific jargon if you are speaking with the person you will be reporting to or someone in a leadership role; you want to avoid coming across as being pretentious. However, using company-specific jargon (e.g., Google: GBike, Noogler, GUTS (Google Universal Ticketing Systems, Plex), regardless of your interviewer’s position, will earn you points.

In addition to speaking the language of the employer’s industry and your profession, it is important to speak the language that is universal across all workplaces. Using common business jargon shows you are not a newcomer to the workforce. 

I frequently use the following business jargon:

Bandwidth: Capacity to handle more work. Those with bandwidth can take on more work; those without bandwidth cannot.

“If need be, I have the bandwidth to work evenings and weekends.”

Core competencies: Strengths or skill set, ideally proven with past measurable results, you, a company or individual, possess.

“Among my core competencies, I am fluent in French, have above average Excel skills, can comfortably work under pressure, and have outstanding leadership skills, having led a 50-person call center for the past six years.”

Holistically (aka “big picture”): Taking into consideration the entire organization, department, or individual.

“To consider everyone who may be affected by a decision I am making, I tend to think holistically.”

Leverage: Using data, research, knowledge, or someone’s skills to decide, take action or get something done.

“A few years back, I leveraged the Spanish-speaking skills of two of my team members to call into the South American market, resulting in $3.5 million in sales.”

Low-hanging fruit: A goal that is easy to reach (achieve) or reliably productive. 

“When I began the Clearwater Resort outbound campaign, I focused on what I believe would be low-hanging fruits. I started the campaign by having my agents call Ontario-based doctors and dentists since they typically have disposable income.”

Next time you prepare for an interview or are at an industry networking event, do not hesitate to incorporate relevant jargon into your conversations, showing you take your career seriously. 

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Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

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