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When everyone suddenly started using “impressed” as an opener (iteachrecruiters.com)
38 points by ardme 9 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 67 comments

A lot of corporate communication is people copying other people’s style. Around 18 months ago people at my company started calling people “resources”. Now everybody does it and doesn’t even notice how weird this is. Things like “I have talked to that resource”. Then there was another time when all managers suddenly said “I want to challenge that”. That lasted two years and then it went away. Another one was to ask ”are we aligned?” Lasted maybe a year before it fell out of fashion

I am sure the “impressed” thing will go away too in a while.

I love the lingo. Once you understand it it gives you an upper hand in negotiation with people who use it. The mistake most people make is to start using it all the time. The trick is to use it with people who speak it and don't use it with people who don't speak it. Simple, just gotta learn to speak other people's language. I have to admit though “I have talked to that resource”. is cringe worthy. "We have a resourcing problem" OK "That resource over there in the red shirt isn't producing enough output to meet deadlines, we must hire additional resource." Not OK.

I get automated emails with "Resource name: lozenge". I think it is a system with employees and contractors and they don't want to use the word "Employee" if it's not accurate. But honestly, they could have found another solution...

That reminds me of a well-known company I joined once, only to discover in my first week that two thirds of the workers were either temps, direct contractors or outsourced abroad. No wounder businesses are talking about resources instead of employees.

Obviously HR are inclined to refer to workers as resources. They are after all working in the human resource department ...

Lucy Kellaway used to write a lot about this, in regards to corporate communications. It was hilarious, and a little depressing too.

My first "real" job involved writing a lot of reports. And I found out, to my initial surprise, that all the reports were copy and pasted from other reports. I remember doing my first report, and my boss pretty much lost his mind (this was my first week...he called me an f'ing c@@t) when I suggested that the report could be cut down and made more suitable for the client. Ofc, my boss was semi-literate, terrified of writing, and the threat of litigation (this was a heavily regulated business, regulators would likely read these reports) held no horror relative to the threat of having to write (he also told me later that the longer the report, the less likely clients were to read it...he managed $100m of other people's money).

Put briefly: people are afraid of having to think for themselves, it is easier to communicate in nonsense when the risk of other people finding out you don't know what you are doing is so emotionally severe. This goes all the way from the mail room to the board room.

Words I hate: overuse of super (common in tech), leverage (outside of the financial meaning), learnings (very hot a few years ago but cooled significantly), huddle, staffer, analyst (presumably they will be calling my trashman a refuse transportation analyst at some point), revert, network (it still isn't okay)...I am sure there are more.

Incidentally, one game I used to play at the above mentioned job was to sprinkle obscure but clever-sounding words in my conversations with my boss and see how many he would start using...simpler times, simple joys :)

So you weren't able to fulfill his ask?

(another misuse of a verb as a noun)

Or take away any valuable "learnings"?

Are business types still using "implement" to mean "buy and install" or "deploy", e.g., "implement Oracle's database"? I always hated that one for some strange reason.

I remember asking people "What's learnings" whenever they used that word. Another one: "performant"; just use "fast" instead.

I was confused the first time I saw the word "learnings", I thought it was a mistake, but then I saw other people using it as well.

Can native English speakers tell me if the word "learnings" is an actual word that exists outside startup blogs?

A cursory Google search says it's a real word, but I've only come across it in the past few years in corporate environments. Everyone else seems to use "lessons" instead.

Everybody at my company is building MVPs, even though they are not searching for product-market fit nor testing any assumptions about the product. What they really want to say is they release early / release often. It makes me cringe every time an exec uses "MVP" as a buzzword.

The great thing about such jargon is that nobody can tell whether you are using it ironically or ignorantly.

"Leverage", as a verb, has had quite a run.

100% agree about this. One of our VP's keeps a running list of words that people start copying each other on at the company. The last one was "ephemeral"

I like that guy already. I'll translate this into modern internet speak that keeps creeping in:

"oh yeah like 100% like I like that guy already rn af?"

That is so very "how are you fellow kids".

I think you need to brush up on "modern internet speak."

I think I don't.

One of my favorite Raymond Chen (of Microsoft, and The Old New Thing) recurring bits was on Microspeak, explaining weird bits of insider Microsoft corporate jargon.


One funny thing about a company I worked at was the pervasive, incorrect usage of the word "revert", in the context of replying to an email thread.

That usage is common/"correct" in Indian / Singaporean English, and perhaps others too. It's a regional difference, as opposed to corporate nonsense, although it's still very strange when you first encounter it.

Not as strange as "do the needful".

At least "do the needful" is somewhat correct and parseable. It was even used in Victorian England.[1] Anyone can understand it means "do what's necessary". It's old and weird, but not wrong.

"revert" and "reply" are entirely different words that sound kind of similar.

1. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/do-the-needful/

I’m not Indian but I love “do the needful”. I’ve only ever encountered it when people used it for humorous affect. Something about it makes me smile.

It's much less amusing when it's used seriously by a lead engineer who clearly hasn't actually thought about what "the needful" is and who clearly just wants to pass off the "ask" you "brought them" to someone who clearly doesn't know what "the needful" is.

I was replying to an email about an interview, and beginning "Please do" (not consider me for this job any further), and my (Android) phone autocompleted "the needful".

Rather interesting considering I don't think I had ever typed it.

Oh man, I forgot about this one. Such a classic.

"Common" != "correct". I know languages are living things, and often words organically take on new definitions. But "revert" meaning "reply" is one of the stupider evolutions IMO.

It probably started because someone wanted to sound "professional". They saw this word and went "hey, this word seems like a more formal way to say 'reply', I'll just use it". Without ever bothering to check its definition in the dictionary.

Sometimes a new usage is jarring or inharmonious, and that discord causes us to derisively argue the usage is ignorant and contemptible. I would suggest that we should resist this impulse.

It's that same impulse that suggests the 'aks' pronunciation of 'ask' is indicative of ignorance, despite it having an unbroken lineage back to Old English.

In this case, the first OED cited usage of 'revert' in the 'reply' sense is nearly half a century old and from the Times of India.

There's also a good deal of documentation of 'revert' in the 'return' sense:

1828 A. A. Opie Detraction Displayed xv. 231 None can shoot these arrows, but they must expect they will revert with a rebounded force.

Cites like this go back to the medieval period. It's completely reasonable for revert to take on the meaning of reply. In the 14th century, reply' itself was used to indicate repeating or echoing.

> In this case, the first OED cited usage of 'revert' in the 'reply' sense is nearly half a century old and from the Times of India.

Doesn't make it correct. You're saying it's not possible for the Times of India to be wrong? I used to read it daily for 10 years and they had their share of mistakes.

> documentation of 'revert' in the 'return' sense

'return' is not the same as 'reply'.

"revert" and using "resource" to refer to people are popular Indian corporate-speak terms. Both drive me insane. I wonder if I'd continued working in India whether I would have committed career suicide by correcting every single person I found using "revert".

I genuinely believe it will.

Hello from Sequoia Capital!

Hi, I'm a senior human acquisition engineer with [some dumb startup] who just raised an A round with Sequoia (yet to announce, please keep confidential).

Talking E2E for a second, would you like to hear about the great work we're doing?

(1 day later)

Hey, bumping this up.

"human acquisition engineer"

Yeah, I'd say that's pretty accurate

The equivalent for this for finance is recruiters having their job title as "Head of Quant and Research" (or similar) on linkedin.

I feel betrayed, blond 20-something recruiter girl from LinkedIn. I thought you only reached out to me about this one!

I recently had some very attractive girl from Amazon's recruiting team message me about a position. So I clicked on her page and the "other people viewed" section of her page was entirely composed of outlier attractive women in their mid 20s. And if you click on those profiles it's exactly the same thing with different girls. Apparently they are running a modeling agency/ recruiting team.

Pretty sad that this works an definitely turned me off from responding to the offer.

I'd personally be more excited if a recruiter finally got Java VS Javascript correct.

As long as I get a job I like with a compensation I want, I couldn’t care less what mind games the recruiters want to pay

"senior human acquisition engineer" - what a gross and inflated thing to call someone who sends out emails and shuffles people into recruiting pipelines.

I really... really... REALLY hate "reach out".

Tempted to add it as a filter, should eliminate a lot of email.

The main issue here is that a single buzzword won’t give your pitch the punch it needs. Specific, enticing detail is what pulls people in. Recruiters are loath to share too much, so these messages just become more of the same.

I understand your frustration with recruiters in general (those pesky bastards!), but do you really think using the word "impressive" is so bad?

Sometimes it's just the right word for the situation. Sure, they'd probably be better off whipping out the old Thesaurus, but ultimately this seems like a non-issue.

For me personally, it‘s a huge turn-off now since the first two times, I actually fell for it. It‘s surprising how easy it is getting to people by petting their ego. Seeing through this tactic, it feels pretty dirty and dishonest to me by now.

Recruiters wouldn't be so annoying if they actually took the time to see if I were a fit for the position. Why are you wasting my time about a C# .Net position when that is not listed anywhere on my LinkedIn?

Another thing I've noticed recently is recruiters telling me they have some "great positions" for me, but not giving me ANY information. They try to aggressively set up a call. When I press them for details first, they begrudgingly tell me. When I let them know that none of those jobs is a fit they drop all communication. How brutally unprofessional!

Real-life example:

# Communication starts

Recruiter: Hi again! I hope this message finds you well! Your background is an ideal fit for this role! I would love to tell you more about us! Are you open to finding out more about the role?

Me: Sure, what can you tell me about this opportunity?

Recruiter: Hi! I can tell you everything over the phone if thats ok with you? I am not suppose to share details over the internet :( I am free today at 2pm EST if that would work for you? if so, do you mind sending your resume and best phone number?

Me: Do you have a brief job description you can provide?

Recruiter: This is all im allowed to share online: "big data web scraping and analytics tech company that helps brands such as Nike, Rolex and Sperry Shoes with online price monitoring, online brand protection and online price enforcement! The company was founded in 2004, they are incredibly stable, and profitable." i can share everything else over the phone if youre still interested

Me: where are they located, at least roughly?

Recruiter: it is 100% remote. they have a HQ on west coast and East coast.

Me: technologies required?

Recruiter: Backend development. primarily node

Me: okay, i don't have much experience with node

Recruiter: ok, they require 2 years or so. not that much?

Me: Unfortunately not

# Communication ends.

What a horrible industry. I'll never go through a recruiter again if I can avoid it. Just garbage. Not even a "okay i'll try and find a better fit for you." They deserve to be treated the way they are.

Hey I saw your resume and it looks mediocre but we can probably place you anyway and get decent recruiting fee, want to chat?

That would be a great opener if it was credible, as far as I'm concerned. The question is how do you establish the credibility?

I'd love to see a video of a recruiter call but with subtitles for the what they are actually saying.

> Sometimes it's just the right word for the situation

Sometimes. I wouldn't expect that 95% of recruiters would be 'impressed' by my resumé all of a sudden in 2019, unless my name were John Carmack or something. And even then, why the sudden change?

I tend to agree, the opener wasn't the issue for me.

When I get these kinds of cold mails the opener doesn't really even register...the problem for me is that recruiters and job postings in general very rarely give any real substance about the work itself, i.e. some clichéd phrase about disruption or exciting something something.

I suppose a possible cause could be giving too much info and running the risk of a candidate going direct to the employer

"running the risk of a candidate going direct to the employer"

When I get a solicitation from a third party recruiter without an employer's name, it's almost always trivial to find out who it is because nobody has time to rewrite a job description in their own words.

In this case, "impressive" means that one of your profiles matched at least 0 of the buzzword technologies that I'm looking for.

The issue is that it is doing the opposite of what they want because everyone started doing it.

"Impressed" is the "blazingly fast" of recruiters.

everything is a got damn sales pitch dammit

Are you suggesting that the grind is not, in fact, 24/7/365? Maybe you don't hustle hard enough.

Hey man, I'm sorry you feel that way. Yeah it's a sales pitch, but it is aimed at recruiters so please just ignore it. I figured this would be interesting to devs because it was interesting to me that all of these recruiters started using the same opening line on me like they all read it as advice somewhere.

I'm afraid you didn't pitch that very well. No one here is sold.

Are you aware of which website you're on?

*God damn

No, they're slightly different phrases.


Urban dictionary is the least reliable source of anything on the internet. It's where you put a definition when you don't want to be wrong.

You say source, I say narrative. While not wrong to suggest many Urban Dictionary definitions are either jokes or in use by nobody but the poster, the English language is not and probably never has been at rest. Urban Dictionary is a pretty large destination for recording slang as it develops. Especially in this case, where it was made popular by the "He Boot Too Big" meme:


No, "got damn" is perfectly cromulent.

Perhaps if you are German gott damn is acceptable.

Gul dern, then, if you prefer.

yes cromulent and asperdicious

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