THE TEMPTATION: “If I use fancy industry terms, they’ll be impressed because I’ll come across smaaaaart.”
THE RESULT: “What on Earth is this kid talking about? I am lost… and bored to tears.”
THE TRUTH: There are so many types of businesses and jobs and skills and terms to describe them all. Let’s just assume there’s too much to know, and therefore, no real need to know any of them (at least while I read your 500-word essay).
Let’s, instead, tackle a much bigger challenge with a much more exciting payoff. Use the simplest and clearest language you possibly can, not only to explain your story, but to engage us WITH your story.
Honestly? It’s harder to do, and it’s a billion times more impressive. Oh, and the person reading your essay will read with greater interest. [Not bad things, those.]
Imagine you’re at work on a coffee break, chewing the fat with your co-workers, telling them about something that happened earlier in the day. Here, and only here, might it be okay to use allllll the jargon you want, because you and your colleagues live and breathe it, day in and day out. Fine, but keep it in the boiler room.
Now, imagine telling that same story to… your best friend who’s a painter. Or to your sweet ol’ grandmother in a rocking chair with bad hearing. Or to your 10-year-old nephew who’d rather be outside playing on a swing set.
What kind of language would you use to engage THEM?
Think we’re joking?
By making your story accessible to the “average” person, you are actually lifting “essential” pieces in a super clever way. Being able to speak at a level “higher” than detail-to-detail catalogues is actually a more sophisticated way of communication—in this particular instance. Less so for a doctoral dissertation, but yes, absolutely for an essay with a very deeply-considered word limit of say, 500.
When it comes to your application essays, economy of words and thought will speak volumes.