How not to advertise for a language professional
Thread poster: madak

madak  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:02
Swedish to English
+ ...
Jul 4, 2010

Headline: Translate Your Language Skills Into Something Really Significant…

Great, my bilingual teenage son's looking to accumulate some cash over the summer holidays.

First sentence: Are you searching for a meaningful career where you can apply your skills in multiple languages?

The above is not a joke. It's an in-house job advertised on the website of a major UK newspaper and the advertising organisation is, wait for it, the European Commission...


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:02
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Types of text Jul 5, 2010

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo wrote:
Headline: Translate Your Language Skills Into Something Really Significant…
First sentence: Are you searching for a meaningful career where you can apply your skills in multiple languages?


I googled a bit and found the advertisement.

Having worked at a newspaper's advertising department for a few years, I can tell you that what you see there is pretty standard. There is not a single standard way to write an advertisement, but several ways, depending on the copy writer's skills, the possibilities offered by the job description, and general editorial policy.

The copy writer in this case follows a policy to write a cachy headline, using any of a variety of mind hooking techniques (in this case, the copy writer chose to use a partial pun). This is followed by a sentence that acts as a secondary hook to make the job seem interesting. After this, the position is explained using more technical data.

As far as I can see, there is nothing in the advertisement that indicates that the employer believes that bilingual high school students will fit their profile, as you seem to have deduced.

You say "How not to advertise for a language professional". Well, how would you rewrite the headline and the first sentence (keeping in mind the editorial policy and advertisement structure that I mention above)?



[Edited at 2010-07-05 07:06 GMT]


 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
Actually, Jul 5, 2010

I quite liked the headline myself.

It suggests that there is a point to studying languages after all, that you can do something with them after you finish. When I was at uni studying languages not one person on my course intended to translate for a living. It also suggests that the documents you'll be translating will make a real difference. This way you can be part of something big!


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 22:02
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Me too! Jul 5, 2010

I quite like the headline and cannot see nothing wrong there! By the way, the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) is an inter-institutional office responsible
for organising open competitions and other procedures for the selection of personnel on behalf of all EU institutions and not only for the European Commission...


 

Cetacea  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 23:02
English to German
+ ...
I don't get it... Jul 5, 2010

Like Teresa, Tatty and Samuel, and I don't see what's wrong with this ad and why anyone would think it it might appeal to teenagers looking for a summer job rather than language professionals. Do you feel it doesn't take translators seriously just because the headline is based on a pun? Headlines are supposed to be catchy--else, no one would read what follows....

 

Daniel García
English to Spanish
+ ...
It's difficult to find qualified linguists Jul 6, 2010

Believe it or not, it's difficult to find skilled linguists to work for international organisations.

I guess, this is one way to grab the attention of potential candidates who might not be drawn towards a duller official announcement published in the traditional style.

In this context, there was recent declaration by the heads of language services in international organisations about this issue:

The Paris Declaration

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/vassiliou/multimedia/pdf/crp.2_paris_declaration_2010.pdf


...
The heads of language and conference services of 76 international organisations met at the OECD in Paris from 21 to 23 June 2010 for the International Annual Meeting on Language Arrangements, Documentation and Publications (IAMLADP).

Facing a global shortage of qualified linguists, the participants stressed the need for more awareness-raising in schools and universities concerning the importance of language learning and the career opportunities for skilled language professionals.
...


Daniel


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:02
English to German
+ ...
"Are you searching for a meaningful career" is the the silliest thing I've ever heard Jul 6, 2010

It reminds me of: "Work from home! Make $$$$$!!!"

That's not the right approach to appeal to qualified translators.

Either you are pursuing this career already or maybe you shouldn't touch these projects at all.

The rest of the ad is OK.


 

Brian Young  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:02
Danish to English
I agree. It sounds really stupid. Jul 6, 2010

1."Translate Your Language Skills Into Something Really Significant"
"Translate"? Why not "use"? But no, journalists can't use little words. They always have to do something to sound clever.
2. Aren't language skills significant in themselves? This seems to imply that language skills are not significant, but could be "translated" into something significant

3."Are you searching for a meaningful career where you can apply your skills in multiple languages"?
This is also really stupid. First, "searching for a meaningful career"? I guess the journalist wants to make sure he doesn't get bothered by anyone who might be searching for a meaningless career, or even a stupid career.
4. "apply your skills in multiple languages"? What does that mean? What skills? Would this include a dishwasher who wanted to work in French and German restaurants?

Maybe the "journalist" who wrote that should apply for a meaningful position as a dishwasher.


 

madak  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:02
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Nicole Jul 6, 2010

Considering the previous answers, I thought it was just me being a bit fussy.

Nicole Schnell wrote:

It reminds me of: "Work from home! Make $$$$$!!!"

That's not the right approach to appeal to qualified translators.


That was exactly my thought (the teenage son bit was just a bit of fun, but then again, the ad did not really exclude him).

@Brian - although I might blame journalists for many things, this wasn't really in their hands as the copy would have gone straight from the EU's HR department to the newspaper's ad sales.

My point was that an international organisation, which should have some experience hiring people with language skills and qualifications, could even consider using such meaningless copy which gives you no indication of what the requirements actually are. All the ad said was that you need to know more than one language, hence my reference to my son.

I've written a number of job ads in my time and, to me at least, the most important thing is to limit the number of applications. I'd rather have 2 qualified responses than 100 which do not fit the profile.

This ad looks more like having been written by a contracted media agency than the HR department which will have to sift through countless unsuitable applications.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:02
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
The ad did exclude your teenage son Jul 7, 2010

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo wrote:
That was exactly my thought (the teenage son bit was just a bit of fun, but then again, the ad did not really exclude him).


It does exclude him, unless he has any of the following qualifications mentioned in the advert:

We are looking for translators with a main language of:
· Danish (ref: EPSO/AD/183/10)
· German (ref: EPSO/AD/184/10)
· English (ref: EPSO/AD/185/10)
· French (ref: EPSO/AD/186/10)
· Slovenian (ref: EPSO/AD/187/10)
(This is at our graduate entry grade)


Or... does the advert you saw not mention these things?


 

Kate Chaffer
Italy
Local time: 23:02
Member (2009)
Italian to English
Translate Jul 7, 2010

Brian Young wrote:

1."Translate Your Language Skills Into Something Really Significant"
"Translate"? Why not "use"?


Umm...maybe because they're looking for translators?


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:02
English to German
+ ...
Yes, if you actually make it through the text. Jul 7, 2010

Samuel Murray wrote:

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo wrote:
That was exactly my thought (the teenage son bit was just a bit of fun, but then again, the ad did not really exclude him).


It does exclude him, unless he has any of the following qualifications mentioned in the advert:

We are looking for translators with a main language of:
· Danish (ref: EPSO/AD/183/10)
· German (ref: EPSO/AD/184/10)
· English (ref: EPSO/AD/185/10)
· French (ref: EPSO/AD/186/10)
· Slovenian (ref: EPSO/AD/187/10)
(This is at our graduate entry grade)


Or... does the advert you saw not mention these things?


And if you are not put off and insulted by this ad within the first two seconds.

Performing a full analysis of this ad because it is up for discussion and trying to figure out like Sherlock Holmes what this exquisite masterpiece of communication tried to convey is a waste of time.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:02
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Nicole Jul 7, 2010

Nicole Schnell wrote:
Performing a full analysis of this ad because it is up for discussion and trying to figure out like Sherlock Holmes what this exquisite masterpiece of communication tried to convey is a waste of time.


Still, you saw fit to comment on it.icon_smile.gif

The original poster has a point, though. There are people in the world who are very sensitive to anything that appears to insult them, and job advertisers should be aware of the fact that if they make any attempt to add a little colour and flavour to a job advert, they may lose the attention of potential candidates.

On the other hand, job hunters tend to learn quickly how to scan job adverts to filter out non-crucial information. In the advert under discussion, a job hunter would (hopefully) have picked up on the word "graduate" and the word "translator", and have figured out that unless you're a graduated translator, you apply at your own risk.

Some translators (though not all) are good at spotting language humour (such as puns) as they scan large, dense pieces of text. A bit of language humour gives an advert a good chance to catch such a translator's attention as he/she browses the newspaper's jobs section. An advertiser should decide, therefore, if he wants to use this technique, at the risk losing translators with no sense of humour.


 

Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:02
French to English
Different approach Jul 7, 2010

Perhaps they did it on purpose. After all, the reputation of translated EU texts is not exactly a glorious one, overall. Having recruited a bunch of po-faced, humourless, pun-shunning automatons in the past, with the results as known to all and sundry in the profession, p'raps they thought a change was in order. Get some folks in who can write a directive that does not induce catatonia within the first two paragraphs.

I'm not saying there needs to be a gag on every page, but some feeling for language would be groovy. So mebbe they are deliberately trying to find people who are actively repulsed by the bland yet accurate "The European Commission is recruiting translators", and who indeed, would perhaps like to turn their undoubted talents to something marginally more worthwhile ("meaningful", if you will) than marketing claptrap for insoles or eyeliner.


 


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