In all aspects of life, people will often try to make themselves seem desirable to an Elite audience. Whether by trying to impress customers or prospective employers, there are certain positive words that are overused to the point of exhaustion, which – even unintentionally – will make you look more bland than a blank piece of paper.
Here is a list of the top ten words never to use when describing 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.
This is a trait that is already assumed. When used in self-description, people will think you are overcompensating for something you do not have.
If you have to say you are an authority on a certain matter then you probably are not.
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.
The vast majority of businesses can sell goods or services worldwide; the ones that cannot – like restaurants – are obvious. See? Only use “global provider” if that capability is not assumed or obvious; otherwise, you just sound like a really small company trying to appear really big.
Most companies claim to be innovative. Most people claim to be innovative. But most are not. And that’s okay because innovation is not a requirement for success.
If you are innovative, do not just say it. Prove it. Describe the products that you have developed. Describe the processes that you have modified. Give us 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 have an impact. “Creative” is one of them. Go to LinkedIn and check out some profiles; creative is a word that is used a majority of the time.
Creative is just one example, others include extensive, effective, proven, dynamic, influential, team player, or collaborative. Some of those terms may truly describe you but since they are also being used to describe everyone else, they will lose their impact.
Museums have curators. Libraries have curators. But tweeting links to stuff you find interesting does make you a curator – or an authority, or a guru.
Saying that you are incredibly passionate about incorporating an elegant design aesthetic in everyday objects will make you sound a little scary – the same effect will apply if you state that you are passionate about developing long-term customer solutions.
Try saying: focus, concentration, or specialization instead. Save the passion for your loved one.
Fingerprints are unique. Snowflakes are unique. You are unique. But your business probably is not, so do not pretend to be. Your customers actually do not care about unique; they care about receiving the best quality product.
Show how you are better than the competition. In the minds of customers, you will then be unique.
People who try to be clever for the sake of being clever are anything but. Do not be a self-proclaimed ninja, sage, connoisseur, guerilla, wonk, egghead, etc. While it may be awesome that your customers affectionately describe you in this way, when you describe yourself in this way you will only come off as amateurish and unprofessional.
Check out some random bios and you will find plenty of further-modified descriptors: “Incredibly passionate,” “profoundly insightful,” and “extremely captivating.” Is saying that you are simply insightful or captivating not enough? Do you have to be incredibly passionate?
If you must use an adverb to extend your already over-the-top adjective to describe yourself, you are only going to give your interviewer a headache. Trust us; we already get it.