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Meaning little by saying something: Top business buzzwords revealed

Talk the business talk, just don’t say “innovator” too much.

Texas is home to several major cities that are also significant corporate centers, including Dallas. — © AFP
Texas is home to several major cities that are also significant corporate centers, including Dallas. — © AFP

For those engaged in recruiting “are you looking for a dynamic team player with a proven track record?” It is a bit of cliché to use this term.

The phrase “dynamic team player” is one of the most overused in the business world, in the context of a corporate climate full of fairly meaningless, or at least, overused buzzwords. Here a buzzword is a word or phrase, often an item of jargon, that is fashionable at a particular time or in a particular context and one that invariably becomes overused to the extent that its original meaning becomes diluted.

A string of such words and phrases has been compiled by the company SimpleTexting. Here 45 buzzwords have been collected and sorted and provided to Digital Journal for consideration. These terms have been drawn from several sources, including Forbes, Inc. articles and the subreddit “r/recruitinghell”. In addition, an analysis has been conducted of the phraseology used in  some 6.6 million U.S. LinkedIn job postings.

The number crunching reveals the most common buzzwords used per every 1,000 job ads. Further breakdown has been undertaken by state and industry to assess the employers most likely to overuse corporate jargon.

The top five corporate buzzwords used in job listings are:

  • “Innovator” (82.06 posts per 1,000 ads).
  • “Dynamic” (59.28 job posts per 1,000 ads).
  • “Team player” (36.76 job posts per 1,000 ads).
  • “Proven track record” (31.35 job posts per 1,000 ads).
  • “Empower” (30.71 job posts per 1,000 ads).

Five years ago, the leading buzzwords were:

  • Headcount
  • Opportunity
  • Thought leader
  • Socialize
  • Game-changer
  • Headwinds

The U.S. states where an individual is most likely be recruited with the added pull of some corporate jargon are Virginia (the worst geographical offender, featuring corporate jargon in 896 job postings for every 1,000 job ads) and Vermont (with every 885 job posts out of 1,000 featuring stale lingo).

Also within the lexicon of shame is North Carolina, whose listings turned to corporate phrases and terms in every 884 per 1,000.

The top three most used acronyms are:

  • SQL “Structured Query Language” (150.80 job posts for every 1,000 listings).
  • HTML “HyperText Markup Language” (100.62 job posts per 1,000 listings).
  • CRM “Customer Relationship Management” (76.76 job posts per 1,000 listings).

Corporate words with little substance behind them are most commonly found in job postings related to the marketing industry, as over 1,027.41 posts (for every 1,000 job ads) contain words like “thought leader,” “leverage,” and “disruptor”. This is perhaps reflective of this sector’s focus on selling ideas and concepts.

Other culprits include the finance (946.75 job posts per 1,000 ads) and technology (679.29 job posts per 1,000 ads) sectors.

This concludes this article from a results-driven, digital native who wears many hats, to Digital Journal’s dynamic readership.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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