Developing Your Career

Developing Your Career

How Do You Describe Yourself? (Watch Your Language)

By Greg Simpson on August 7, 2013

Words have power, but some words are more powerful than others. Are you setting the bar too low when describing yourself on your social media profile or resume? You might be if you’re using bland, overused, or underwhelming expressions to describe yourself.

In his recent article, 4 Ways to Edit Your Resume Like a Professional Resume Writer, Don Goodman offers helpful advice for customizing, editing and proofing your resume to maximize its impact on the hiring professional. As Goodman says, “For a resume to have impact, you have to market yourself … Many resumes don’t sell simply because they are poorly focused.” To this we should add, “And many don’t sell because of poor word choice.” Resumes and profiles riddled with worn-out phrases detract from the candidate’s actual accomplishments and bore the reader.

For example, the often-used words “reliable and dependable” seem to imply that the best the candidate has to offer is showing up. Other tired words (self-motivated, team player, excellent communication skills) weaken descriptions and should be limited to one or two per profile/resume. The most overused business buzzwords on LinkedIn last year were “creative, organizational, effective, motivated, extensive experience, track record, innovation, responsible, analytical, and problem solving.” HR professionals complain that resumes and profiles filled with these clichéd words and phrases are so similar they could be interchangeable, even though the candidates and their work experience may be vastly different.

So how do you convey that you’re a “motivated, creative problem solver with extensive experience and an impressive track record”? Through outcome-oriented language that adds real substance. Concrete evidence will reveal more about your creativity, problem solving, and team building skills than a mind-numbing list of words. Describe what you did with specific examples. Explain the impact of a problem you solved. Talk about the specific groups/departments you pulled together to achieve a goal.

Excuse the cliché, but when it comes to establishing your professional identity, actions definitely speak louder than words.

4 Responses to “How Do You Describe Yourself? (Watch Your Language)”

  1. Suely Nakashima

    I definetely agree that to descrite the achievment and activities explain more your competences than adjectives about yourself.
    Very good insight.

  2. Hew Fah Lin

    Has been working for 11 years now. This article surely caught my attention. Gonna start a re-look at my resume. Thank you.

  3. Patricia Leonard

    Many in career search have not updated their language. When we speak of competencies we speak of what we do and can offer companies. Most adjectives used in interviews and resumes are meant to impress. If you want to impress show me where you can add value to what I need and where I am going as an organization.


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