10 words you must NEVER use to describe yourself

Who am I to tell you how you can describe yourself? Nobody. So ignore me at your leisure.

On the other hand, I can tell you for free that the words you use in your résumé, your LinkedIn profile, your Twitter bio, your cover letter, and in spoken language, create a response in the reader, which can condemn you faster than the blink of an eye.

Believe me on this. Recruiters, hiring managers, potential clients, and those in your social community will scorn you, even ‘delete’ you, based on the emotion these words evoke. I am not saying it’s right, but you will be judged if you use these words. And not judged well.

  1. ‘Guru’, ‘legend’, ‘maven’, and ‘ninja’: Incredibly, these are used a lot! They are very common in Twitter bios for example. Seriously? Have you paused to consider what these words actually mean?  What they imply? And you are happy to ascribe them to yourself? You are a ‘legend’, are you? And you say so? Publicly? Nothing writes you off, and smashes your credibility as quickly as describing yourself with words like these.
  2. ‘Expert’: Not as bad as the words above, but from the same stable. You have gone too big. You may be an expert. Just don’t say it. We will be the judge of that.
  3. ‘Humble’: Just by saying it, you prove that you are not.
  4. Generous’: You may be, but if you are prepared to say it in public then you are not humble (see above). And we value ‘humble’. And we want our ‘generosity’ without thought for personal gain and acknowledgement. So don’t say it. Live it.
  5. ‘Honest’: If you have to say it, it’s clear you think it’s a ‘special talent’. We view it as a given. Do you have to work at it, we wonder?
  6. ‘Rock-star’: Oh, heaven help us! (Unless you are, in fact, a rock-star, but we doubt that)
  7. ‘Nice guy’: No seriously, I have seen this on three twitter bios recently. You are announcing you are a ‘nice guy’? Surely that is the ultimate accolade that has to be bestowed by others. Narcissistic, much?
  8. Exceptional’:  Too big. Too much. Too bad.
  9. ‘Funny’: Pretty much every person I have ever met who describes him or herself as ‘funny’… isn’t.
  10. ‘Visionary’: Just (don’t) do it.

If these traits are true about you, then other people will say them about you. In references. On social media. In private conversations. Say them about yourself, you look silly at best, and a right plonker at worst.

This post originally published on The Savage Truth

Views: 1298

Tags: Agency Recruiting, Corporate Recruiting, Human Resources, Job Seekers

Comment by Matt Charney on August 13, 2014 at 10:49pm

Amen, brother.

Comment by Tim Spagnola on August 14, 2014 at 7:22am

#6 is spot on. I loath hearing one refer to themselves as a rock star. Great post as always Greg. 

Comment by Will Thomson on August 15, 2014 at 3:03pm

I guess that means Rosetta Stone should take "Rock Star" out of our job description for sales people.  Great post Greg, as always.

Comment by Lars Schmidt on October 30, 2014 at 4:55pm

Cosign. Can we add "Thought Leader"?

Comment by Tim Spagnola on October 30, 2014 at 6:20pm

@Lars - Absolutely!!! 

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