10 Ways You Should Never Describe Yourself
Posted by Girls Guide To on June 14, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Have you spent months sending out your resume and going on interviews only to still not have a job? It may be because your resume or your rehearsed talking points use words or phrases that give off the wrong impression of you. When other people use these words to describe your talents, it's OK. When you do it, you just sound like a pompous jerk. Or at least that’s what this smart list from Inc. says.
Do you--whether on your website, or more likely on social media accounts--describe yourself differently than you do in person?
Do you use hacky clichés and overblown superlatives and breathless adjectives?
Do you write things about yourself you would never have the nerve to actually say?
If so, it's time for a change.
Here are some words that are great when used by other people to describe you, but you should never use to describe yourself:
Check out Chris Rock's response (not safe for work or the politically correct) to people who say they take care of their kids. Then substitute the word "motivated." Never take credit for things you are supposed to do--or be.
If you have to say you're an authority, you aren't. Show your expertise instead. "Presenter at SXSW" or "Delivered TED Talk at Long Beach 2010" indicates a level of authority. Unless you can prove it, "social media marketing authority" just means you spend a ton of time on Twitter.
Most companies claim to be innovative. Most people claim to be innovative. Most are not. (I'm not.) That's okay, because innovation isn't a requirement for success.
If you are innovative, don't say it. Prove it. Describe the products you've developed. Describe the processes you've modified. Give prospective employers something real so your innovation is unspoken but evident... which is always the best kind of evident to be.
See particular words often enough and they no longer make an impact. "Creative" is one of them. (Go to LinkedIn and check out some profiles; "creative" will appear in the majority.)
"Creative" is just one example. Others include extensive, effective, proven, dynamic, influential, team player, collaborative... some of those terms truly may describe you, but since they're also being used to describe everyone else, they've lost their impact.
Museums have curators. Libraries have curators. Tweeting links to stuff you find interesting or making awesome pin boards doesn't make you a curator... or an authority or a guru.
Say you're incredibly passionate about incorporating an elegant design aesthetic in everyday objects and--to me at least--you sound a little scary. Same if you're passionate about developing long-term customer solutions. Try focus, concentration, or specialization instead. Save the passion for your loved one.
Fingerprints are unique. Snowflakes are unique. You are unique--but your business skills probably aren’t. Don't pretend they are, because employers don't care about being unique; they care about "better." Show how you're better than the competition and in the minds of employers, you will be unique.
People who try to be clever for the sake of being clever are anything but. Don't be a self-proclaimed ninja, sage, connoisseur, guerilla, wonk, egghead... it's awesome when your friends or coworkers affectionately describe you in that way, but when you do it, it's apparent you're trying way too hard.
Check out some random bios and you'll find plenty of further-modified descriptors: "Incredibly passionate," "profoundly insightful," "extremely captivating..." isn't it enough to be insightful or captivating? Do you have to be incredibly passionate?
If you must use over-the-top adjectives to describe yourself, at least spare us the further modification. Trust us; we already get it.
Are you guilty of padding your resume and LinkedIn profile with these words?