1000 different people, the same words

What hiring language from 25,000 recent job descriptions tells us about corporate cultural norms

Kieran Snyder
Dec 13, 2017 · 3 min read

Let’s say that you collected 1,000 people together and gave them simple instructions: In one minute, everyone start singing your favorite song.

It’s easy to imagine the resulting chaos. 1,000 different voices bursting into different music, lots of them out of tune and none of it coordinated.

That’s what it’s like when you ask 1,000 hiring managers at your company each to write a job description for a role on their team. 1,000 different voices saying different things, lots of it poorly constructed and none of it coordinated.

Now imagine that, in response to those “sing your favorite song” instructions, those 1,000 singers all started singing “We Will Rock You” in unison. You might think it was an eerie coincidence. But more likely, you’d start looking for a logical explanation. Was everyone singing along to the radio? Were they all part of the same choir? What led them all to choose the same song without discussing it ahead of time?

The patterns that show up across your company’s jobs show what you truly value

In the same way, you might find it striking if, despite having very different roles and hiring needs, those 1,000 hiring managers all used the exact same language in their job posts. In large organizations, you don’t end up with thousands of people using the same words by accident. The patterns that show up across your company’s jobs show what you truly value.

Sometimes this can be at odds with what you say you value. When your PR talks about work/life balance, but your team consistently advertises jobs that are work hard/play hard, your team is the one telling the truth.

With this in mind, we used Textio to take a look at the most distinctive language used in the public job posts of ten prominent tech companies.* Each one showed distinct language patterns that showed up in statistically anomalous ways. The distinct phrases used by each company showed up in their jobs much more often than they did for other companies in the sample, and frequently way more often than average for the industry.

Here’s what shows up in the job posts of some of your favorite tech companies:

It’s common to talk about company culture as a part of recruiting. Organizations spend significant time and money on shaping their employment brand. But however you try to spin it, the truth of your cultural environment shows up in the language that your team uses to communicate — especially when your entire company uses the same words.

Changing the words you use won’t change your culture overnight. But getting consistent and intentional about language does create accountability for teams to aim for the environment that you’re all aspiring to — and that’s the first step to getting there.

*A word about the data set: In this sample, Textio analyzed 25,060 jobs published over the last year by Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Salesforce, Slack, Twitter, and Uber. Among these, Apple, Slack, and Twitter are Textio customers, along with some divisions at Microsoft; the rest are not.


Learn more about how language impacts your hiring at textio.com

Textio Blog

Kieran Snyder

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Textio Blog

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