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“Did The Corporate Thing” And Other Painful Clichés


Robby

Being a jobseeker is being in marketing, and the product is you. Being in product marketing in the Midwest means you can’t be pushy, because people don’t like that here. That’s why the clichés have to stop, right now.

What’s are these things and what’s so bad about them? The best definition I found came from Google:

cliché – a phrase or opinion that is overused and displays a lack of original thought.

That is: these expressions are tired, worn-out, and demonstrate that you just aren’t thinking.

Worn Out Shoes
© Flickr User Alan Levine

Many of these statements end up on jobseeker résumés as well as said in interviews or at networking events. For example, don’t say anything that should apply to everyone. That includes being “detail-oriented” or a “self-starter” or “reliable.” Those aren’t interesting qualities. Those are all mandatory, bare minimums for anyone doing any job.

“Did the corporate thing for a while”

Here’s the cliché that started this post. At least twice a month I meet a jobseeker who has experience working for a large business and wants to start or join a small business. That phrase about “the corporate thing” seems to imply a badge of achievement. It’s as if getting a job working for a larger firm somehow shows you have earned the right to dismiss all big business.

Instead, try: “I worked for XYZ, Inc, a multinational. While I enjoyed the experience, I’m interested in the cultural and operational differences at much smaller firm.”

“I like working with people.”

This statement makes me chuckle because what would happen if someone said the opposite? “I don’t like working with people” would seem suspicious and antisocial. Of course you like working with people. You’re a human being. We all like working with people. And when we prefer to be alone, we don’t mean that we dislike other people at all times.

Instead, try: “I’ve done extensive independent and freelance work, as well as working on large, interconnected teams. I find I am most productive in the latter.

“I enjoy managing others.”

Given the widespread dislike for managers, this sentence sounds like you’re saying “I like telling people what to do.” It also doesn’t communicate any particular understanding of the practice of management.

Instead, try: “Leadership is essential to success. I subscribe to the model of ‘servant leadership’ promoted by the late Robert Greenleaf. I’m looking for opportunities to support a team using this philosophy.”

“I’m hoping to find a good fit for my skills.”

Really, you too? Just as with “I like working with people” the opposite statement is hilarious. “I’m hoping to find a bad fit for my skills.”

Get specific. Don’t say “my skills”; tell what those skills are.

Instead, try: “I’m a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and I’d like to find a small accounting firm that needs someone with Quickbooks expertise to expand their offerings to their customers.”


In the few seconds you have when meeting someone new, a cliché may ruin your first impression. Learn what they are and stop using them. Everyone will thank you.

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About the Blogger:

Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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