What the 3 Little Pigs Can Teach Us About Buzzwords

When I was going through that horrible torturous process known as 'job searching' and applying to various positions I remember so many people telling me that I needed to include 'buzzwords' on my resume.  

I asked why and the response was always 'well, so the application algorithm that scans resumes picks those up and pushes you further along in the interview process.' 


I love technology, I work in technology, but I do not believe it should be solely used to hire candidates for a company.

Look, I get it. A company has a ton of resumes to go through if it is a large company, but for smaller to medium, I just do not agree. You have to build your company with great people, not buzzwords. I have a hard time even typing that word because I feel that it just makes me lazier and I could be writing better words like...



John Wick 3.

Anyways, since we like classics here at 3 Goat I thought I would use an analogy of how buzzwords fit in with 'The Three Little Pigs.'

No worries, this should be fun.

We all know the story of the 'Three Little Pigs.' 

So, how do buzzwords fit into this story? They're useless just like the materials the first two pig brothers use to build their houses.

Let's say that the first pig uses the buzzword 'go-getter' to build his metaphorical house. The pig doesn't know that 'go-getter' is weak material.  The pig was taught that by peers that this is how the pig builds a house.  

Well, that's nice. Because how useful is 'go-getter' when you are hiring someone who may be the foundation of a new department in your company? 

About as useful as building a house made of straw. 

You know what that does for that company? 


Good companies do not care that you say you are a  'go-getter' they want to see you are a 'go-getter.' You need to show the achievements you have made in your community, your previous job, high school, or college.  They want to see you  'go-get' new leads, clients, and certifications, not just two words typed on paper.

Do I blame the applicant for this? Absolutely not. I blame lazy and inefficient company hiring policies.  They created this monster.

..speaking of monsters, we will call lazy company hiring policies our 'wolf' in this story.

So, what does the metaphorical 'lazy company hiring policy wolf' to do the house built with the metaphorical buzzword of 'go-getter straw?'  

He destroys it. Shattering the pig's hopes and dreams. The pig is forced to run away and will someday have to rebuild.

Now we move to the second pig brother. This sibling has been taught to use 'team player' as the buzzword for metaphorical sticks to build his home. He has been taught to include this in his resume even though the thought crosses his mind of 'But, I am team player? My actions show it, I work in the community, and a good team is vital to any company culture I enjoy. Maybe the new company will just ask me. I would love to explain.' 

Nope. The other pigs at work say that he has to use it or his resume will be scanned and he won't even get an interview to explain how he is a team player. 

So, he builds the metaphorical house of sticks with metaphorical buzzwords like 'team player' and guess what?

The 'wolf' now along with being created by lazy hiring policies is now combined with a hiring team not having the time to interview all individuals, only 'key' resumes..aka buzzwords.

But, the second pig does have buzzwords in his resume! Right?!

Of course he does...along with every other applicant who has applied and the interview team just doesn't' have the time to interview everyone, only the ones that the algorithm says will be a good fit.

So, down goes the stick house and the two brothers run to the third brother's house.

The third brother has been fortunate enough to be recruited by a company who values their employees, both existing and new.  This company, made of metaphorical 'bricks', is always on the lookout for referrals, they focus on individuals at job fairs and listen to their backgrounds and accomplishments, they bring interviewees in who have nothing on their resume that would traditionally get them an interview, but they're good people with the willingness to learn.  They break the mold and hire great people and keep those great people by treating them right.

This 'brick' company actively seeks out amazing people.

Is the third pig lucky? Probably a little bit.  But this pig has focused on standing out in his current company, he works in the community with non-profits, he goes to networking events, not just for free beer and food, but truly focus on finding that 'brick' company.  He knows what he wants and will not settle for less.

What does the 'brick' company do with buzzwords? 

They create one helluva fire in the fireplace with those buzzwords. Who knew that 'go-getter' and 'team-player' were so combustible?

And when that 'wolf' now writhing with lazy, inefficient hiring policies and an algorithm used scan 'key' individuals comes to destroy the house made  of efficient, honest, and genuine 'bricks?'

Not a damn thing.

This house cannot be destroyed because it has a solid foundation of people, efficiency, and foresight.  These 'bricks' are people that do not think interviews are a waste of time or focus on what an algorithm says about buzzwords.  These 'bricks' care about the house and what it stands for.

Back to the wolf - this wolf sees that it cannot bring down this brick house. It's too solid. If the wolf walks away it has failed.  If it tried to knock on the door and just ask to be let in to learn from the pigs instead of eating them...that would just not make sense. It's bigger than the pigs, it shouldn't need to ask them for help.

The wolf isn't dumb.  It sees that other pigs are building houses out of 'bricks' and realizes the times are changing.  The wolf thinks that it doesn't have to destroy the house, it will just go through the chimney.  It cheats. We can akin this to companies changing their appearances and 'looking like' they are utilizing efficient hiring techniques like ACTUALLY talking to or actively seeking out great candidates.

(Side note: Laszlo Bock writes about this in his book Work Rules)

The wolf quickly realizes that when it climbs in the chimney the third pig and his company had been stoking a fire so hot with terrible buzzwords it resembles a thruster on the back of a rocket during liftoff. The wolf can't make it in.

Does the wolf still get some pigs for dinner? Absolutely.  But the pigs who realize that buzzwords do not make the best foundations go to careers they enjoy, around other pigs they enjoy, and go on to hire other great pigs. They create foundations so strong the wolf doesnt even get a chance to steal any good pigs.

Hiring great people isn't easy. It takes time and effort and creative thinking.  Companies need to realize this.  They need to create cultures that attract great people and they do that by setting that example from the very first contact with a potential hire.  Companies need to fill their pipelines with prospective hires and keep in touch with them throughout the hiring process.  If a company doesn't have an open position for a great hire, send them to another good company.  Not only will that employee remember that, but you have now helped out a fellow company by assisting them in creating a solid foundation.

Remember, great people build companies, not buzzwords.