Ch. 9: Jargon: when to include, explain or avoid

In this chapter you will learn how to:

• define jargon

• understand when and how to use jargon

What is jargon?

Jargon consists of words, brands, acronyms, abbreviations and expressions with specific meanings. It can be industry-specific, company-specific, technical or generic and it is almost always used as a kind of shorthand. Jargon allows you to refer to something in an agreed way that your colleagues should understand. Most people use jargon in their everyday speech at work and, while some jargon is fairly specialized, much is so widely used that it becomes commonplace.

Whether you enjoy using – or reading – jargon is a very personal thing. Even if it’s something you dislike, it can be tempting to use lots of jargon in your CV simply because it’s a great way to save space. But at the initial stage of the recruitment process – or at any stage of it – you have no control over who might read your CV.

It could be a specialist, but it could equally be an HR executive with little or no understanding of the specific role you are applying for. So, use jargon as little as possible.

There is plenty of generic ‘business’ jargon about. You may well have:

  • heard of SMART objectives
  • been told to KISS
  • said the budget was TBC
  • listed a URL
  • sent an email FYI
  • heard a step-change is needed
  • benchmarked performance
  • Done some ‘blue-sky’ thinking.

How you use jargon when talking to your colleagues is up to you. If it saves time and you know it ’ s helping your audience understand you better, then by all means make yourself a target for buzzword bingo.

Whenever you are unsure of your audience, use plain English.
Industry-specific jargon is popular and includes many things, such as:

  • Finance: P&L (profit and loss), YOY (year on year), Sage (accounting software)
  • Printing: CMYK (4 colour print process), CTP (computer to plate), B1 (sheet size)
  • Retail: FSDU (floor standing display unit), Plano (where products should go on shelves).

Within a particular industry, this kind of jargon may be widely accepted – especially if it relates to standard equipment, processes or technical specifications – and may even be seen as a way of showing you are knowledgeable in the field. Use this kind of jargon only when it’s essential, widely understood, and won’t confuse someone who reads it.

Jargon can also be company-specific:

  • JDE – in-house customer service system
  • XLOB – across different lines of business
  • Sekunda – self-erecting unit
  • Tranzit – artwork file transfer system.

While your colleagues may understand you perfectly, no one outside your organization will. Avoid using any terms like this on your CV...

The extract above has been taken from 'Get That Job With the Right CV'
Copyright © 2010 Julie Gray

Get That Job With the Right CV

From Julie Gray, Senior Consultant at The CV Centre, Get that Job with the Right CV will help to teach you how to write the best possible CV to land that perfect job.

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