Reprinted from, November 2015

By Dina Bass
Technology changes frequently, and so do its buzzwords. Some of the most effective terms a year ago, such as big data, no longer have the same cachet with job applicants, according to a study of more than 500,000 tech job postings by Seattle startup Textio. Stale jargon is being replaced by hotter trends, including artificial intelligence and real-time data.

For the study, Textio tracked more than 50,000 unique phrases commonly seen in tech job listings, said Kieran Snyder, the company’s chief executive officer. The startup compiled a list of terms that experienced the biggest changes in impact, positively and negatively, over the last year. Among the five biggest losers, none were turn-offs to job candidates in 2014, which shows how fast the industry changes. Among the top five buzzwords, only two were even on the map a year ago, Snyder said.

Textio creates language-analysis software used by more than 3,000 companies, including Twitter and Expedia, to edit their job postings. The tools rely on artificial intelligence (good buzzword!) to scan text and suggest tweaks designed to improve a company’s chances of attracting strong applicants. Textio also offers tips for bringing in more diverse candidates. For example, female professionals aren’t usually interested in office Nerf battles or being classified as “code ninjas.”

The startup’s backers include Cowboy Ventures and Upside Partnership. Bloomberg Beta, the venture capital arm of Bloomberg LP, is also an investor in Textio.

Textio’s tool can’t predict whether a new hire will ultimately be successful or prove a good cultural fit in a job. Nor can it ensure that employees will remain happy and effective after they start working. Snyder said her startup is developing software to improve retention and minimize attrition, such as performance-review and feedback tools that verify whether a company’s processes are effective, constructive, and free of bias.

In the meantime, global companies in various industries are willing to give the recruitment software a try to see if it can improve a process that’s often seen as an afterthought. (Snyder said she advises companies against the common practice of pasting parts of old job listings into new ones.) It may be especially enticing to companies looking for an edge in Silicon Valley’s competitive hiring environment.

Each term included in the study was measured using three main criteria: the number of people applying for a job containing the phrase, the percentage of those applicants with the skills and background to qualify, and the time it took to fill the role since the job was posted. The results were then ranked by changes in effectiveness from a year ago. Here are the top five winners and losers:


  1. Artificial intelligence
  2. Real-time data
  3. High availability
  4. Robust and scalable
  5. Inclusive


  1. Big data
  2. Virtual team or V-team
  3. Troubleshooting
  4. Subject matter expert
  5. Drug-free workplace