And so do computers, says Jon Ciampi, a business executive who has become a student of "cognitive linguistics" and a related discipline, "computational linguistics."
Ciampi's building a business on these disciplines, specifically something he calls candidate optimization. His company, Preptel Corp., promises to rewrite resumes so that they are in a language that computers can understand. And that's important, because these days, computers are doing the first sort on resumes. They are scanning resumes and picking out keywords that match the job posting. The more matches and the more relevant matches, the more likely it is that the jobseeker's resume will rise to the top of the list where it can be reviewed by a human being.
And it's not only keywords, like copying a grocery list of skills. The order of words and their placement is also important and part of the give-and-take between human and computer.
Ciampi explained: Every business has its own lingo. When job applicants use that language in their resumes, they are recognized as part of the tribe, worthy of hire. "You are predisposed to like people who use the same vernacular," he said.
Cognizant linguistics posits that language knowledge comes from language use, so the question is how to teach computers enough of the language to recognize the tribe. That's where computational linguistics comes in -- a field that uses rules about language to model language.
In the job world, getting the right match through language is important, said Ciampi, who is quoted in a Philadelphia Inquirer article. "It helps on both sides," he said. "It helps the computer and it helps the person.