It’s all gobbledegook to me

Since I’ve started looking at roles in the creative industry, I’ve used it as an opportunity to educate myself on what these roles are, understand the skills required, and whether it highlights a skills gap I need to address. In the Internal Communication industry in which I work, I can interpret an Internal Communication job description easily. Still, some of the creative roles I’ve seen have me interested and confused in equal measure.  Just this morning I saw a Head of Email role. Interesting.

On LinkedIn, I came across a person’s job title, which stopped me in my tracks; Chief Changemaker. What a claim, it sure carries weight and impact. But what does this person do? Make sure change happens and sticks perhaps? How about a mid-weight designer? Maybe not as ‘wow’ as Chief Changemaker, more reminds me of boxing titles like a featherweight boxer. Can you imagine a designer walking into an interview accompanied by loud music, wearing a glitzy dressing gown and followed behind by an entourage? What an encounter that would be!

The Chief Changemaker was hiring, and one of the skills required in the new role was SEO, Search Engine Optimisation, which we all know about. I did expect SEO to come with a bit more of explanation though, something along the lines of “Understanding of SEO and ability to apply it to X, Y, Z”. But no, it was merely SEO. Is this all it needs to be understood? Because I didn’t get it the first time and had to ask a fellow freelance writer what she thought the role required. Not only did the writer tell me what she thought, but she also shared the SEO service she offers clients.  I now know why it’s essential to be more well versed in it and what it means to a copywriter, so I shall be looking at Google’s free SEO courses …!

If I think about it more, perhaps job descriptions are being written in the same way we take in information. We have shorter attention spans and don’t always want or have time to read a full-length feature. Headlines should grab your attention, and good ones can pretty much tell you everything you need to know, a bit like a film trailer. It’s why The Sun headline writers earn the most. Articles and videos online now indicate how long it will take you to read or watch them. And if I think about the internal communication job descriptions I have seen in the past they waffle on an awful lot. If you don’t know the industry, they won’t make sense which is what I’m experiencing as I read creative job descriptions. Ironically, we tend to write communication job descriptions in such a way that lack any ability to raise or pique someone’s interest. If you can’t engage and inspire the very people that will be communicating messages, what hope do you have?

I wrote a reverse job ad as part of my career change course this year, so instead of a company posting a job ad, I wrote a job ad based on the company I wanted to attract. The idea was to help me understand the role or the career I wanted in terms of what was important to me. For example, I was looking for a relatively small company, where I could start work between 09:00 and 10:00. I wanted to be inspired by my boss and work with a team genuinely focused on collaborative working. To be able to finish work early to go for a run/swim/ride was encouraged because the company knew it would increase employee engagement, and I was trusted to catch up on work in my own time. If you know of a company like this, and is hiring, let me know!

My job ad used simple language that made it clear what I wanted, much like the above. I think people forget how effective, simple messaging can be. Recently my manager asked me to sense check an email from our CEO. You’ll notice that throughout my writing, I’ve used contractions; Ive rather than I have.  I prefer this style, it’s more casual, informal and I think it suits this audience, you. The CEO’s email was a mixture of both, and because I’ve heard him talk and know personal messages land better, I changed the tone.  My manager appreciated the changes I’d made but said that as a CEO, it’s better to use a formal tone. Is this a relic from our past that still pervades, the notion that a CEO can’t let their guard down and must remain somewhat above their employees? Does a formal tone hold more sway?

When people walk into work, they don’t suddenly change the way they think, read, write or hear things, and I believe people forget this. To engage people, you need to understand the audience, what makes them tick, turns them off and switches them on. Why not choose simplicity and clarity over formality and complication? Ultimately let’s not be afraid of being more human. That Head of Email? It does what it says on the tin. Maybe the creative industry has a good thing going after all. 

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