Words are powerful
Words can inspire, motivate, and heal.
They can also hurt, humiliate, and destroy.
The words you write or speak to others can have a huge impact and leave a lasting impression – good or bad.
Words can make or break relationships.
They can help you land the interview or get you disqualified.
How you express yourself can boost your career or kill it
This is why it’s critical to choose your words wisely when you are engaged in any form of communication during your job search and throughout your professional life and also applies to the creation of your résumé, cover letter, Linkedin profile, and all other career marketing documents.
Communicating your value
Your main goal during the job search is to market your value to a prospective employer. To do this effectively, you need to clearly and confidently communicate the top 4 criteria the employer is seeking.
#1 – You understand the job
#2 – You can do the job
#3 – You will do the job
#4 – You won’t pose a hiring risk.
The hiring manager needs to believe that YOU believe that you can do those 4 things. They want to see your confidence and conviction.
This is why the language you use in your career marketing documents and during the interviews is so important. Your choice of words and the way you deliver them can make all the difference.
Express yourself well
When employers say that the candidate “didn’t interview well” or they “weren’t a fit”, they often mean that the candidate didn’t express themselves well during a phone interview or face-to-face meeting.
The language and the way it was delivered did not exude the qualities that the hiring manager was looking for.
6 ways to up your game
#1: DO NOT use weak language
From the hiring manager’s perspective, weak language signals that the candidate is indecisive, uncertain, non-committal, and lacks confidence.
Avoid using these words in your career marketing documents and interviews:
With any luck
If all goes well
Weak language can stem from the feeling of uncertainty during the job search process. Being nervous during an interview and being afraid of saying something “wrong” can often render a candidate tongue-tied or they blurt out something lame.
This is understandable, but don’t let these negative feelings control what comes out of your mouth. You need to be conscious of what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.
#2: DO use strong language
Notice that I say strong. This doesn’t mean that the words have to be big and complicated. In fact, quite the opposite.
Keep your words and the way you say things simple, clear, and to the point while ensuring that the words you use portray you as confident and decisive but not arrogant – there is a fine line.
Using strong words in your career marketing collateral and during interviews will make the hiring manager confident that you believe in what you have to offer.
The kind of words you should use include:
I can’t wait to
I would love to
I’m excited about
#3: Strengthen all forms of communication
You want to be consistent with using strong language across all verbal and written forms of communication such as your:
- Cover letter
- Phone conversation
- Follow up letter/email
#4: Minimize conversation “fillers” and résumé “fluff”
During phone, video, and face-to-face meetings, speak decisively and assertively. Chose your words carefully to avoid filling in the blanks with things like Umm, You know, and Like.
It’s actually better to pause for a second or two to collect your thoughts than to fill in the space with these useless words that mean nothing and only reduce the quality of your communication.
In terms of your résumé, make every word count. Cut out any words that don’t need to be there such as unnecessary adjectives and adverbs.
#5: Use appropriate language
As I’ve already pointed out, you don’t have to use big words – just choose your words carefully and make sure they present you as being decisive and confident.
Make sure the language you use is also suitable for your target position.
For instance, an executive level position will typically require a more formal way of expressing ideas and concepts than someone who’s in the early stages of their career.
#6: Keep it professional
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t use slang words or too much industry jargon unless it is considered appropriate for the position you are targeting.
Dropping an f-bomb or using other curse words is also not recommended unless you know the interviewer on a personal level and you’re 100% confident they would be okay with that.
In my opinion, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and keep the language professional and swear-free. If you get too familiar and lower your guard, it can backfire – even with someone you “know”.
Here are some examples
Question #1: Why should we hire you? How can you help us?
DO NOT SAY – “I guess I’ll be able to use my skills and experience in X to help you with Y”
Does this sound self-assured and ready to get down to business?
SAY THIS INSTEAD – “I am able to do X and Y that would help your company achieve Z. Here’s an example of how I did that for ABC company” (Briefly walk them through a specific example of a key contribution).
This is obviously much stronger than the first response because it’s clear, to the point, and decisive. Plus, the candidate offers evidence of a specific and relevant accomplishment.
Question #2: What’s your 5 to 10 year career plan?
DO NOT SAY– “I’m not sure. I guess I would hope to have moved up the ranks by then.”
The “I’m not sure” was bad enough but the “I guess” really took it down a few more notches. Also, “moving up the ranks” doesn’t sound professional.
SAY THIS INSTEAD – “My goal is to progress into a leadership position. I intend on achieving that by the 5 year mark. I’m committed to completing the required professional development and have already started the process. The next 5 years would be focused on further developing my leadership skills and to take on more responsibilities. By the 10 year mark, I see myself in a Senior Vice President position.”
This person really knows what they want and have expressed it confidently without being cocky. They obviously have a plan and are committed to their success.
If you’re not sure how to properly express yourself verbally or in writing, feel free to reach out for some guidance.
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Hi! I’m Diana.
I leverage over 10 years recruitment and sales/marketing experience to create attention-grabbing résumés, cover letters, and Linkedin profiles that help job seekers stand out, get noticed, and get hired. You can learn more about my story here and about how I can help you here.
Need help? That’s what I’m here for!
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