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10 words not to use when describing 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. Youmay 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.

I hope this has helped you decide which words best describe you when going for an interview!

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