Quiz: Can you define the business jargon terms that are putting young people off job applications?

Man and woman with illustrated jumble of letters
Business jargon is putting young jobseekers off applying for roles Credit: Plume Creative

Confusing job descriptions are a "major barrier" for young job seekers that are preventing them from entering the workforce, a study has found.

Some of the most bamboozling terms commonly used by recruiters in job adverts aimed at young people include “SLAs”, “procurement”, “fulfilment service”, “KPIs”, “compliance, “mergers and acquisitions” - all identified by testers as jargon.

Over the past year, Business in the Community and the City & Guilds Group asked young people aged between 16 and 24 to rate the accessibility of over 65 companies’ entry level job adverts, which between them collectively employ 1.2 million people across the UK.

It found that young job seekers are being put off applying for entry level or first jobs by impenetrable "business-speak" which leaves them unsure about the suitability of roles and what their day-to-day responsibilities would actually consist of.

The study found that two-thirds of the young people who assessed the company vacancies did not understand the role they would be applying for.

More than a third of the job descriptions assessed contain unclear jargon, acronyms or technical language which put young people off applying. Over half of them did not have a clear job description.

Jargon was found to negatively impact young people’s confidence, by making them feel they “don’t deserve” a role or are “not good enough” to apply as they feel “intimated” by the job descriptions or “unsure” of what they’ll be facing.

Business in the Community says that jargon is not only stopping young people from getting into work, it also means employers miss out on young talent.

It is calling on companies to cut jargon from their job descriptions to encourage young people to apply, and has today launched new guidance to help companies make their recruitment processes more accessible for young people, remove jargon and ensure that entry level roles do not exclude young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Grace Mehanna, youth employment campaign director for Business in the Community, said: “Understanding jargon is not a measure of a young person’s potential or indication that they are a better candidate.

"We’re concerned that the prevalence of ‘business speak’ in job adverts aimed at first jobbers is a major barrier that could inadvertently screen out young people without access to working role models and networks.

"These are the job seekers that are least likely to have support preparing for job applications, least likely to know someone who works in the company or sector they are trying to break into, and therefore least likely to be able to overcome these barriers.”

Some of the other barriers found in the study included failing to include basic information about the jobs in the descriptions and a lack of transparency about the application process:

  • One in three didn’t mention salary
  • Two in five didn’t state working hours
  • One in seven didn’t give a specific location
  • More than half didn’t outline the different stages of the application process
  • 62pc didn’t outline the timeframe of the recruitment process

 

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