Hiring a dog, a sheep or a centipede? The colourful language of Dutch recruiters

Feeling like a fish in the water or a sheep with five legs? Animal-related expressions are commonly used in colloquial Dutch. So commonly in fact, that they very often find their way into job titles. Marte Meijs, Textkernel’s Marketing and Communications Specialist for Benelux, takes a closer look at the menagerie dreamed up by Dutch recruiters when looking for candidates.

By Marte Meijs

As part of our marketing activities, we regularly create labour market analyses based on statistics provided by Jobfeed, our Big Data tool that collects, analyses and categorises all jobs published online into a searchable online database. While analysing jobs published in the second quarter of 2016 on the Dutch web, I stumbled upon the job title ‘Creatieve duizendpoot gezocht in Tilburg (Wanted: creative centipede in Tilburg). This intrigued me and as I dug deeper, I realised that hundreds of recruiters were not only looking for centipedes but also trying to attract the attention of tigers, frogs and other spiders. To give you an overview what these Dutch expressions actually mean, have a look at the table below before reading any further.

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An insect on top of the food chain

Centipede (a multi-skilled multitasker) has consistently been the most advertised job position over the past 5 years (70% of all animal-themed vacancies) It is followed by sales tiger (aggressive, go getter) and ”spider in the web” (problem solver). The graphic below shows the distribution of the top 10 animal-related expression in Dutch vacancies.

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Crouching tigers, cool frogs

Over the years, we see that the centipede remains at the 1st place. The tiger and its many variations – sales tiger but also career tiger or catering tiger –  is also a recruiter’s favorite and seem to gain traction over the past five years.  Recruiters seem to have lost interest in cool frogs which moved from 4th to the 10th place in the span of 5 year. Night animals are in high demand in 2016 (5th) compared to 2012 where they were last of the list.


Is it smart to use creative expressions in vacancy texts?

The humorous nature of such job description might attract candidates and increase the number of application received by recruiters. However candidates might not be looking for such expressions when looking for a job and are more likely to use common expressions and ‘real’ job titles. Hence, from a SEO perspective it seems to be a disadvantage to be creative.

Just think about it. During your job hunt, how often have you looked (or better searched?) for one of your animal friends?

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