Unit 27: Job hunting success... and failure
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Have you ever looked at a job advertisement and wondered what the advertisers were looking for? Have you ever been confused by questions in a job interview? In this session we look at some job-related jargon - words and phrases that have a special meaning related to a particular topic - and here the topic is jobs! Don't miss your chance to improve your knowledge of this tricky vocabulary!
Are you able to think out of the box or take the helicopter view at work? How good are you at blue-sky thinking? What do these expressions mean? Find out all about business jargon in this 6 Minute Vocabulary.
Listen to the audio
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary. I’m Neil …
And I’m Catherine. And our topic today is business jargon – that’s words and phrases you hear mostly in the world of business. So Neil, are you ready for some blue-sky thinking?
Blue-sky thinking – that’s an expression often heard in the workplace. It means being creative – coming up with new, original ideas.
Exactly, and in this programme we’ve got lots more business phrases for you. We’ll explain what they mean and when to use them.
But first, listen to Sophie, talking to her marketing team.
And here’s a question to think about while you listen: What does Sophie ask Joe to do?
Good: it seems we’re all reading from the same page. We need to reach the upscale customers. So, can we think out of the box and come up with something quite different? We have to push the envelope if we want to succeed in the market. Now, if we take the helicopter view, we can see that we’ve effected lower costs. We’ve targeted low-hanging fruit and got rid of several distributers. Going forward now, Joe, can you action advertising? Is everyone clear now?
Lots of business jargon there. We usually don’t use so many at one time, do we Neil?
No, it can sound a bit much if you use all of them. Though these are things you probably will hear in a business context.
Most definitely. So back to our question. We asked you: What does Sophie asked Joe to do?
And the answer is: She asks him to action advertising.
That’s right. She wants him to deal with advertising. Sophie used the noun action as a verb – more on that later. But first let’s look at some jargon she used to talk about having new ideas. Here’s a clip.
INSERT CLIP 1
So, can we think out of the box and come up with something quite different? We have to push the envelope if we want to succeed in the market.
So Sophie wants her team to come up with a new and exciting idea. And she uses the expression think out of the box, which means be creative; don’t feel limited to the same old ideas.
And she tells them to push the envelope,which means go further than before; do things that might be new or risky.
Yes, that’s similar to that expression we had earlier – blue-sky thinking, which means being creative – coming up with new and original ideas, even if they are not very practical or realistic. So Neil, are you a blue-sky thinker?
Oh, yes, of course, I’m incredible creative, you know.
I do. Yes, that’s true.
Sophie also said everyone was reading from the same page. Now this expression means they all had similar ideas and agreed with each other. Here’s another clip.
INSERT CLIP 2
Now if we take the helicopter view, we can see that we’ve effected lower costs. We’ve targeted low-hanging fruit and got rid of several distributers.
Some interesting phrases there, and you can guess their meaning if you actually picture what the words mean. For example, take the helicopter view.
Exactly. Now, picture yourself up in the sky in a helicopter and you’re looking down at the ground – and you can see a lot more from up there than you can see when you’re down on the ground. So this expression means: looking at the whole situation and not just one or two details.
Sophie also said that they’d lowered costs by targeting low-hanging fruit. Low-hanging fruit means the easiest, or most obvious, things. In reality, on a fruit tree, the fruit that hangs low down is easier to pick, so there’s a link between this idea and the idiomatic meaning of the phrase in a business situation.
Good. Now, Sophie used two nouns as verbs: effect and action. She said: We’ve effected lower costs. And to effect means to achieve something. She also asked Joe to action advertising, this means she wants him to deal with the advertising. And nouns used as verbs like this sound very strong. They give the speaker’s ideas greater force.
Sophie used the word upscale to describe customers. Upscale describes people with money or things that are high quality.
I often think that we could do with some upscale coffee in our office.
That’s a good idea.
6 Minute Vocabulary from BBC Learning English.
And it’s time for a quiz. Number one: If I want you to be creative and original, would I tell you to a) push the envelope or b) target low-hanging fruit?
And the answer is a) push the envelope.
Well done if you got that right. Number two: If I want you to look at the wider picture and not concentrate on detail, would I tell you to a) think out of the box or b) take the helicopter view?
And it’s b) take the helicopter view.
Good. And finally, if I want you to do something, would I ask you to: a) action it or b) effect it.
And the answer is a) action.
Well done if you got those right. And before we go, here’s a top tip for learning vocabulary: when you learn new words, make a picture in your head of the meaning. And when you hear or see the word again, you can think of the picture.
There’s more about this at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.
End of Session 1
That's all for Session 1. Join us in the next session where we'll look at another tricky area that sometimes comes up in job interviews: question tags.
Vocabulary points to take away
blue-sky thinking: having ideas which are very original, even if they are not practical or realistic
Our blue-sky thinking gave us some totally new ideas
push the envelope: to go even further than others and do things that might be new or even risky
We’re not just a normal airline. We’re going to push the envelope and offer balloon flights.
think out of the box: to be creative and not limit your thinking
Jayne’s so good at thinking of solutions to problems. She manages to think out of the box.
read from the same page: think about or understand a situation in the same way as other people
Pat wants the Middle East to be our target market, but I think we should aim for the Far East. I don’t think we’re reading from the same page.
take the helicopter view: look at the general view of a situation and not the details
Taking the helicopter view, we can see that the company has steadily expanded over the last few years, but this month’s sales figures are rather low.
action (verb): deal with
I had 100 emails in my inbox this morning. I’ve actioned 80 of them so far.
effect (verb): bring about a change or influence
The company effected many changes in the pay and conditions of their employees last year.
low-hanging fruit: the easiest targets
To cut energy consumption, we need to reduce worldwide air traffic, rather than making petrol and car tax more expensive – these are just the low-hanging fruit.