Many of us, including myself, have used a word or phrase just because we heard someone else use it – half the time without fully knowing what it means. Remember that feeling you got when you heard someone use a word or phrase out of context? Now, imagine giving a potential employee or employer that same feeling. We at CR Fletcher thought it would be good to highlight some of the common ‘buzz’ words and phrases that we come across on a regular basis in the business world and are quickly growing tired of.
“I’m a people person/team player”/ “I love to work with people” – Each of our recruiters cited some iteration of these phrases as becoming overused and ‘cringe’ worthy – especially when persons use them in referring to a strength. Unless you are doing specialized research in some remote location, chances are you will be working and collaborating with others on a regular basis. The key to expressing that you are a good ‘team player’ is to provide your listener with practical examples of instances where you worked on a team and the contributions you made to that team as well. So, the next time you are tempted to give one of the above answers when asked about your strengths, try starting your response with “I like working with people/on teams because…”
“Think outside the box” – This term has quickly become a buzz-phrase for me as more and more people and businesses use it to justify how innovative and creative they are. Let’s be honest, everyone has the ability to think outside the box, some people just use their ability more than others. The key to expressing how creative and innovative you are is to once again use concrete examples. In your example be sure to outline the ‘old school’ way of thinking or addressing a problem, and then highlight your approach.
Giving 200% – Although it’s never a bad thing to highlight that you go above and beyond in completing a task, avoid being excessive. If you have to use this phrase my advice would be to not exceed 150% – the fact that you’ve already exceeded 100 gets the point across. Don’t mess it up by exaggerating.
“Don’t spin your wheels” – According to our new team member here at CR Fletcher this phrase is a staple in the accounting world and is quickly becoming ‘buzz’ worthy. In case you had trouble figuring out its meaning like I did – it means that you should seek help when stuck on a problem or issue instead of struggling to figure it out on your own. While those of us not familiar with the term have just learned a new phrase to abuse; we recommend others who know of and use it too often to be more selective in your use. Even consider tasteful and creative alternatives. For example, you can try my alternative “don’t row your boat.” If you don’t use it I’ll understand.
While it is easy to give in and use one of these or other common business clichés your goal in today’s business world should be to set yourself apart from the competition at every opportunity. So instead of using mundane clichés, just get straight to the point or use witty alternatives, and always follow up with solid examples when necessary.
For some additional reading, check out the Inc.com article below on ways you should never describe yourself.