Phrases to Kill Your Search #4

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Here’s the final installment (for now) in my look at search-killing phrases.


“I want …”


Your marketing message, your résumé, your cover letter, etc. should all be focused on what THE OTHER PERSON wants, not on what you want.  Your goals will come out in the process of the discussion, but you want to be sure that the emphasis is on why I as the listener or reader should be excited about helping you achieve those goals.


One example is the “Objective Statement” many candidates use to open their résumés.  An objective is all about you, not about what you can do for me.  These are counterproductive on your résumé.


To illustrate, here’s one from a real résumé I received:


To utilize acquired skills leading and supporting cutting edge system development and implementation efforts to further my management career within the Insurance/Financial Services Industry.


What message does that send to the hiring manager who reads it?

  • I’m more interested in what you can do for me than in what I can do for you.
  • I only like working on “cutting edge” projects, so don’t count on me to get the routine work done.
  • I don’t really understand the insurance field – since whoever thought of insurance companies as leaders in cutting edge system development?  (I worked in insurance for 25 years myself…)


Including what you want somewhere in your message is OK, as long as you do it in a way that shows why you would be an outstanding candidate for it – then it’s making it interesting to the listener/reader.  It’s equipping them to know how they could help you or refer you.


Just be sure to do it later in your message, after you’ve engaged them.


The best result comes if you only get to what you want in response to the other party’s follow-up question…

5 thoughts on “Phrases to Kill Your Search #4”

  1. Thanks for starting this discussion. Could one reason for such phrases appearing on resumes be because this was the expectation thus far? Earlier one had to show by using those words on the resumes to be considered as someone who was motivated on working in for eg Cutting Edge technologies or being results oriented….etc. There seems to have been a shift in the way a candidate is now supposed to market oneself these days.

  2. Laura Sheman Says:
    January 24th, 2010 at 11:54 am e Good advice! In fact, this can carry over into all aspects of life. Including sales. I’ve seen many sales people focus on themselves during a sale, which effectively kills the sale. It is important that you put your attention on the CLIENT and find out what they need or want. Forget about your rent bill or that your utility bill is coming due tomorrow. You can also apply this axiom to relationships. Focusing on providing what your spouse needs or wants, or your best friend, will do wonders. Plus it feels good! 🙂

  3. RT and Laura:

    Thanks to both of you for weighing in!

    I think these sorts of phrases came in vogue not because they were effective or expected, but simply because so few of us are natural marketers. Candidates assumed (or were told) that they should have an objective on their resume, marketing documents, etc., by others who also didn’t really understand that marketing is about the other person, not about themselves. Others saw that and assumed that was a good idea, and so on.

    This was also fostered by recruiters and HR people who found that it was so much easier to screen and classify resumes, etc. if there was an objective up front they could go by.

    Having an objective is critical. Stating it up front and center in your marketing documents is ineffective, since it’s just about you, and not about what you can do for me.

    A blended approach is to include your objective in a marketing headline, so that the focus isn’t so much on the objective, but on what results you can provide or problems you can solve in that role. For more on this, see:

  4. This makes a lot of sense. Interviewing is so tough. I’ve been independent for so long now, I have forgotten how rough it is to try to sell yourself to a new boss!

    I was hiring people for a mortgage company for a little bit. Although they were hired on a commission basis, I would still conduct an interview. After all, I’d be training them, spending a lot of time with them.

    There were a lot of dry resumes out there, lifeless sorts of things, copies of copies. Dull.

    Then there were the candidates that somehow thought they were interviewing me! I found them amusing, but they never worked out.

    The people I hired were people that were real, their resumes described their goals without demanding that I provide all the answers. I liked them.

  5. I would have loved for you to have shown an example of what these faulty statements look like as winning ones–not just explain why they don’t work. That would be helpful to a lot of your readers.

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