The "We — Not Me" Mistake
It seems everyone today is talking about “teams”. That is natural; teams are an integral part of the workplace! How could any of us get anything done without relying on the cooperation of others?
Employers like team performers too. While mavericks who blaze a trail of personal glory no doubt achieve a great deal, often co-workers are left adrift to pick up the “details” as the “star” work colleague moves on to the next big challenge.
We all agree then. Team work is admirable and an attribute to be communicated to an employer.
Or is it?
There is a dark side to being part of a team. We have all known people who hide behind their colleagues’ toil by looking busy, contributing very little and taking credit for the praise at the conclusion of the project. In fact this has become as much of a workplace cliché as to be regarded with a degree of scepticism by many.
Take the case of “Chris” who wrote in his résumé:
✔We encourage active participation before any training is conducted. All of our staff actively worked towards product certification as part of regional channel training. Based on our experience gained in the business intelligence field we landed an outsourcing deal with XYZ Corporation.
When reading this bullet point, where is the evidence that Chris achieved anything particularly? He talks that “we encourage active participation” and that “we landed an outsourcing deal”. The clear and obvious question one would ask of this self-sabotaging résumé mistake is:
What did Chris do? When he talks of “we” does he mean “I”? If he does, why hide behind an accomplishment? Is Chris overly modest and humble and sharing his achievement with the people around him, or is he hiding behind the work of other people?
Similar words can be found on many résumés. Look for ambiguous phrases such as: Involved in… participated in… contributed to… for examples of cloudy phrases that fail to establish you as a key player in the team.
Here is how Chris could have communicated his leadership by being clear about his contribution:
✔Strategically evaluated and planned staff training alternatives to optimise service delivery. Philosophy proved sound with product certifications and experience in the business intelligence field cited as being a key factor in XYZ’s decision to outsource a lucrative deal with (company name).
An infinitely stronger approach that removed the ambiguity and communicated exactly what Chris achieved.
Gayle Howard © 2008 www.topmargin.com | www.anexecutivecareer.com
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