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Each Friday I open the Australian Financial Review and I hope this week will be the week.  
The week when I turn each page, and have my heart fill with joy as I savour the rich quality of job advertisements, jumping off the pages of Australia’s most expensive real estate for job ads.  
Surely’ I think to myself, ‘the organisations forking out thousands of dollars from their recruitment budgets will tolerate nothing less than excellence for their investment.’  
Each week my expectations are shattered on the hard rock of reality, as I read a consistent stream of dullness or complete meaningless waffle that attempts to disguise incompetence, with high-falutin’ gobbledygook.  
Witness this effort from Luminary Search (Divisional Financial Controller, $190k package, page 7) from Friday 5 June, 2009:  
“You are adept with business strategy, but also appreciate the importance of quality data and use both to leverage the value you create. You will have autonomy and will need to rely with confidence on your professional expertise”.  
Can somebody please tell me what these two sentences actually mean, because I don’t have a clue?  
Needless to say the rest of the ad does not improve. And it is not just recruitment agencies churning out Everest-scale garbage in job advertising.  
On the same page of that Friday’s AFR, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) advertised for two roles using this outstanding piece of lateral-thinking copy-writing:  
“Senior Manager – If you have outstanding management and leadership skills, and high level financial services or legal experience then this could be your opportunity to work on ASIC-wide matters during a time of dynamic change”.  
Yes, that’s everything they give out about the position – no salary, no broad challenge of the job, no indication of reporting line or specific leadership responsibilities. Absolutely zip, nil, nadda, nothing of use that will assist a candidate to make an informed decision about their suitability for this role.  
Surely this appalling state of advertising copy cannot continue for much longer … can it?

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Carey Eaton

The problem with the way this ad is written is that it is (quite deliberately by the look of things) in the language of the advertiser, rather than the language of the jobseeker.

There is probably not a jobseeker on earth who doesn't think they qualify for this job based on the definitions described by the advertiser.

I'd love to know what percentage of the ad response you've rejected Peter?


It isn't enough to use big words when targeting executives in job ads. There has to be content too. The sentences have to 'mean' something.
But, having experimented in both layman's, 'lowest common denominator' language versus a more polished, cerebral style, my experience is that the latter generates a much better response from my targeted executive audience.
In my opinion, Peter Tulau's ad delivers on both the content and style front.
The problem is where inarticulate recruiters use tired phrases that they don't understand. It only demonstrates their laziness or their ignorance of the position.


The quality of any advertisement is it's ability to transmit a message. Peter sends a message in a pompous, wordly and verbose style which will only reach a particular audience.

I would suggest not all executives respond to this language and to "cull on a cognitive level" really does miss the point of an advertisement.

I am 'old school' recruitment and agree with Ross. Keep the message clear. Andrew Banks always said that a strong message and a lot of white space attracted the best. Ask yourself how many M&B ads you saw that sounded like Peter's ad?


Firstly Ross, kudos on publishing Peter's response to you. I love that you are so fair (and passive aggressive enough to give this guy enough rope to hang himself by looking like a pompous fool).

I'd like to point out to Peter that individual words may make sense by themselves, but don't always makes sense when you put them side by side. How does one leverage one's value? I understand the words, but the sentence still remains complete hogwash in my mind. You either create value or you don't. It's there or it isn't. I'd love to know how you 'use a fulcrum' on value.

Also I would argue that a more accurate definition of 'value' would have more to do with 'worth' instead of purpose. If you wanted to say 'for a purpose' I would suggest using the word 'purpose' …

Ross' issue was not with the words but with the actual sentences which in spite of the handy (and potentially incorrect) definitions provided by the author still appear to make no sense.

And I'm sorry but 'cull on a cognitive level'? OK it makes sense, but it also makes you sound like a twat. Good luck finding a definition for that in Websters.

Keep up the good work Ross, including your simple and effective use of the English language.


Hi Ross,

I totally agree with you on this one!!
Why window dress things when the majority of applicants just want to know the pure fundamentals of the job as well as where they are able to extend and grow themselves in the role.

Peters comments ' this kind of lingo tends to cull on a cognitive level'…..that's sums Peter up in one line…unprofessional!!

What an expensive way of using your clients money to do your job…selection of the most suitable job seeker.

Will never use Luminary search ever!




I have to agree with Mr Tulau. With all respect to you guys, I am not sure if any on you have had any real executive experience.
Mr Tulau add will attract right people who will understand what writer wanted to say.
If you don't understand meaning of the add, then definitely job is out of your league.


Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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