Wed 23 Feb 2011
A friend pointed me in the direction of this job advertisement the other day. It appears to be for a cleaner in a gym. Apart from the obvious euphemy in the job description, I was intrigued by the subversion of the job ad genre1.
Here is the ad in full:
Changeroom & Poolside Assistant
- Bit of a neat freak?
- Sydney CBD
- Part time opportunity
We’re looking for fun, fit and feisty people with that certain ‘Virgin-ness’. WAHEY. We smile a lot and we always put our people first. So come and work with us at Virgin Active – it’s going to be fun. You like?
Our shiny club is probably the best thing you’ve ever seen. Like, ever. And we want it to stay like this, so we need a Changeroom & Poolside Assistant to keep it looking and feeling delicious for all the amazing people who work and work-out here. If you’re a serious ‘neat freak’, you’ll love taking responsibility for ensuring the changerooms and pool areas are sparkly clean and looking spectacular. ‘Cause, duh, we’re Virgin’. You’ll wipe down treadmills to ensure members don’t slip on their own sweat and pick up any towels lying around (we like to keep them white and fluffy). And you’ll be uber responsible because you’ll supervise aquatics and ensure safety is properly maintained.
Some stuff that will help you get the job:
- At least six-months experience
- Super-friendly, communicatey type of person
- A bit of a neat-freak (and love to keep things clean and tidy)
- Pool Lifeguard certificate would be awesome but not essential
- Current Senior First Aid certificate and CPR/AED certification would be cool
- Can do a rotating roster with weekends between 5:30am and 10:30pm
If this is you, then we’d love to:
- Give you a challenge
- Help you grow
- Provide you with benefits
- Listen to your new ideas
- Work hard and play hard together
Love people? Love health and fitness? Love bananas? Love to hear from you.
There’s lots in here to look at in the context of a job advertisement genre. The non-standard lexical items (communicatey, uber), heavy use of slang and youth-oriented language (duh, ‘like, ever’), attempts at humour (love bananas?) and playing up the whole virgin thing, especially the expletive wahey.
Above all, this job ad smacks of a corporate project to reinvigorate and funkify the company, one platform of which is to attract employees who they think would have a new, youthful, ‘cool’ approach to their jobs. They cleverly realise that the first interaction many people have with their jobs is the ad. And if they were trying to foster a youthful working environment, a traditional job ad — the sort that has phrases like required skills and desirable qualities as opposed to Current Senior First Aid certificate and CPR/AED certification would be cool— might deter the sort of applicants that they want.
However it still reads like an odd mixture of sexed-up, inauthentic youth-speak, and traditional corporate speak. For instance, the juxtaposition of the colloquial Super-friendly, communicatey type of person with the rather mundane, human resources jargon of Can do a rotating roster with weekends between 5:30am and 10:30pm is a bit jarring.
I suggest that Virgin underestimate their audience. Everybody who lives in a speech community is (at least subconsciously) aware of the various genres of language that surround them — from the extremely colloquial such as a chat between friends in a social situation, to the extremely formal, like legal proceedings, as well as the massive continuum between these poles2. I don’t see how anyone could have difficulty understanding a job ad that was more typical of the genre.
But then again, I suppose Virgin’s motivation is not to be understood by more people, but rather to stand out among the plethora of uninteresting job advertisements on the market.
- Sorry about the choice of title, but I couldn’t resist the increase in traffic from Google with the two keywords.
- I’m aware that these are better described as registers, whereas I refer above to the job ad ‘genre’, but the two concepts are inextricably linked.