Is there a place for swearing in recruitment advertising?

Is there a place for swearing in recruitment advertising?

The short answer is ‘yes’ and the long answer is ‘it depends’.

Let’s take a closer look at the long answer.

I doubt too many people would argue that the purpose of ad copy is to sell a proposition in as few words as is necessary to get the reader to take some kind of action. Doesn’t matter if it’s a job advert or any other type of advert.

Basically, that means writing the copy and then reviewing every word. If it doesn’t help inform or persuade, then I’d argue it doesn’t need to be there.

Whether any of what gets edited out are swear words will depend on whether those swear words add anything to the overall message and/or helps filter the types of responses it might get.

And that means the profanity would probably need to add more information about the culture of the hiring company. If it’s a sweary culture, then it’s probably better if the people who don’t like that sort of thing know as soon as possible. So, the swearing stays in.

A few years ago, I ran a job ad for a client who had a sweary culture and so one of the words I used in the ad reflected this. But it got rejected by some of the job boards, despite my protestation that “bullshit” isn’t really a swear word. I think some job boards need to grow up.

Beyond job advertising, the use of profanity is probably a little more complicated when applied to social media posts, blogs or video.

I’ve sometimes been described as “swearing like a trooper” although I don’t think I swear all that often. My theory is that when I do drop an F-bomb, it’s effective and so gets remembered. Or it might be that I swear a lot but am too self-absorbed to notice.

Some of the people who’ve influenced my writing are people like Mark Ritson and Bob Hoffman who both use profanity, albeit sparingly, and they’re great writers who know their shit. See what I nearly did there?

All of which leads me to another way swearing can be perceived differently.

It depends how it’s used.

I think the occasional swear word in content that is eloquent, persuasive and grammatically tight will generally be received more positively than the same swear words in content that’s badly written and full of typos.

Most of my target audience are recruiters – and most of them swear. Anyone who’s ever tried to fill a job vacancy will know why. If my target audience were English Teachers or Corporate Lawyers, I wouldn’t swear at all.

I guess a lot of it comes down to authenticity.

By way of a final example, my training partner Jackie is something of a linguistic puritan – and so if she ever wrote anything that used profanity, you’d know she’d either gone mad or had been held at gunpoint by me while writing it.

So, there you go. Is there a place for swearing in recruitment advertising? Sometimes.

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