How many times have I heard a recruiter or hiring manager say, “If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone use “People Person” as a self descriptor?” My typical response is: “As opposed to what?” Since we are people; we should all be a “People Person” in one way or another right? But in all seriousness, there are many phrases or answers to questions job seekers use that are frankly overused and cliché. Here are some of my favorites used both in interviews and on resumes:
- I’m a “people person”: This is one of the most widely used self-descriptors used in the job search today. What do you mean? Do you thrive in teams? Do you have leadership skills? Are you great at teaching? Be specific and better define how your skill can benefit business.
- My weakness is that I cannot say no: Of course you can say no. Interested in washing my windows? There, you said no. Quite frankly, everyone tries to use this example because it is safe. Over-committing is actually a symptom. The weakness is in your prioritization skills.
- I am looking for experience: Well, no duh! Employers know that. When asked why you are applying for a position, the employer wants to know the value you can bring to the equation. The employer knows you need experience and a job. And honestly, it is not an employer’s job to give you experience.
- Resume passive words:
- Responsible for: Every job has responsibilities. You get your job description before starting the job, so this information has no impact on your value.
- Assisted: This word leaves the reader’s imagination WIDE open. Did you assist someone with pouring coffee? Define “assist”. Define “help”.
- Acted as a liaison: You acted? That is the same as performed right? People get awards for that. Instead of saying you acted or performed, demonstrate something concrete such as communicated between, collaborated with, resolved, etc. Those words paint a picture of your competency which is what the reader needs to see.
Please pardon my sarcastic humor. My point is that while all of these answers and phrases are true, they are also way overused and are frankly too vague. In the job search, you are a marketing manager. Marketing is about selling qualities that set you apart from the other applicants. If your answers are like everyone else’s, you will be forgotten. You will just be another “people person” applicant.