The Language of Recruiting: Caught between Persuading and Gatekeeping

03 Jun 2019 – 05 Jun-2019
Leuven, Belgium

Recruitment in professional contexts occurs through many different communicative genres, ranging from job ads (e.g. Verwaeren et al., 2017) over CV’s and cover letters (e.g. Waung et al., 2017) to job interviews (e.g. Timming, 2017) and assessments. Focusing on the perspective of the recruiter, an interesting tension is seen in these genres between the need to persuade well-suited candidates to apply for the vacant position and the need for gatekeeping, viz. the need to prohibit unsuited candidates access to the position and the firm.

Although the job ad can be seen as typically tailored to persuading (see e.g. van Meurs et al. 2015) and job interviews are primarily known for their gatekeeping function (Kerekes 2007), both genres nevertheless portray a notable tension between the two communicative goals. As previous research reveals, this tension can be uncovered through quantitative and qualitative analysis of the language variants and varieties used in these genres. For instance, as van Meurs (2010) and Zenner et al. (2013) discuss, gatekeeping can occur in job ads through the use of English as language of communication, restricting the position to applicants who master the language. Additionally, as e.g. Van de Mieroop & Schnurr (2018) and Roberts & Sarangin (1999) discuss, job interviews are hybrid activity types, where more institutionally oriented discourse types (foregrounding the exchange of information) and more relational discourse types (foregrounding personal information) occur. Both discourse types reveal a tension between gatekeeping (only candidates that fit in both in terms of skills and in terms of personality will be considered) and persuading (candidate’s that actually fit in need to be convinced that the firm is a place they want to work).

Theme session organizers:

Eline Zenner (KU Leuven) and Frank van Meurs (Radboud University Nijmegen)

References:

Kerekes, J. A. 2007. The co-construction of a gatekeeping encounter: An inventory of verbal actions. Journal of Pragmatics 29: 1942-1973.
Roberts, C., Sarangi, S. 1999. Hybridity in gatekeeping discourse: issues of practical relevance for the researcher. In: Sarangi, S., Roberts, C. (Eds.), Talk, Work and Institutional Order: Discourse in Medical, Mediation and Management Settings. Berlin/New York. Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 473–503.
Timming, A. R. 2017. The effect of foreign accent on employability: A study of the aural dimensions of aesthetic labour in customer-facing and non-customer-facing jobs. Work, Employment and Society, 31(3), 409-428.
Van de Mieroop, D. & S. Schnurr. 2018. Candidates’ humour and the construction of co-membership in job interviews. Language & Communication 61, 35-45.
van Meurs, F., H. Korzilius & L. Bergevoet. 2015. English words and phrases in Dutch job advertisements: Do they function as peripheral persuasion cues? Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics 4(1): 21-38.
van Meurs, F. 2010. English in job advertisements in the Netherlands: Reasons, use and effects. Nijmegen: LOT.
Verwaeren, B., Van Hoye, G., & Baeten, X. 2017. Getting bang for your buck: The specificity of compensation and benefits information in job advertisements. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 28(19), 2811-2830.
Waung, M., McAuslan, P., DiMambro, J. M., & Mięgoć, N. 2017. Impression management use in resumes and cover letters. Journal of Business and Psychology, 32(6), 727-746.
Zenner, E., D. Speelman & D. Geeraerts. 2013. Macro and micro perspectives on the distribution of English in Dutch: A quantitative usage-based analysis of job ads. Linguistics 51(5): 1019-1064.

Call for Papers:

This theme session aims to contribute to this line of research that studies the mechanisms for persuading and gatekeeping in the language of recruitment. Contributions ideally pay specific attention to the tension between the two communicative goals described above (see  »Session Description »).

Timeline:

– Submission of abstracts (400 words) to theme session organizers by 24 September
– Notification of acceptance from theme session organizers by 30 September
– Submission of theme session proposal by theme session organizers on 30 September
– If the theme session is accepted: submission of individual abstracts by presenters by 15 November