Stupid Expressions People Use When Job Hunting

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Tell me the truth. Do you really like the idea of having your brain “picked?”  Picking someone’s brain is one of those completely ghastly expressions that people use habitually to describe asking for advice.

It is like listening to a podcast and hearing a guest answer a question by saying, “Absolutely!” How did that become de rigueur for answering interview questions on tv and podcasts?  All you are doing is showing yourself as an amateur since pros never say, “Absolutely!”

Picking Your Brain and Other NonsenseHere’s another one. Describing yourself as visionary. Are you really someone “who thinks about or plans the future with imagination or wisdom.”  I assume you don’t ascribe to the definition that describes a visionary as someone who “sees visions in a dream or trance, or as a supernatural apparition.” If so, there is medication for that or a part in the final season of “Game of Thrones” for you.

Are You Really “Unique?”

OK, snowflake, you are “special.” I will concede the point. But what makes you unique? What makes you special?

I have spoken to very few people who can back up the claim to being unique. Most of us,  myself included, are well-conditioned people who have learned through schools, media, friends, books (you remember what a book is, don’t you) and other venues how to think and what to believe. Yet, we often go into situations proclaiming our uniqueness while in a room of similarly costumed and made up people who look around the room feeling affirmed by their belief that by appearing like others, they are unique. Crazy, isn’t it.

Do You Really Want to Be a Team Player?

Stars make star money in sports. They are head and shoulders above the other player on their team or in their sport. Team PlayerThey are paid accordingly. Team players in business are generally paid ordinary money because they are “solid,” but not spectacular. Even if you are the best of the solid, you are a commodity to most organizations and replaceable. Yes, stars may do “the little things” that the rest of the team does. But don’t you want to be viewed as a star? Any time an organization talks about hiring a team player, they are telling you that they want another soldier to send into battle and get slaughtered or a person who will do what they are told. Thinking is unnecessary.

I worked in executive search for more than 40 years. I now coach job hunters into new roles. I never received a resume from someone who claimed to be “the perfect fit” for a job that actually was. The joke in my office was that the person who claimed that they were “the perfect fit” saved us time and we could treat the claim as a signal we could delete their resume. Prove it. Don’t proclaim it and not back up your claim.

I Feel Unappreciated.

SadLastly, one of my biggest laughs comes from people who have told me that they felt unappreciated in their previous position. I find it funny because (1) they have allowed themselves to be taken for granted or (2) they are a team player and you can re-read what I said before about team players.

You are not underappreciated. You are valued at a level that a firm sees your value to be. This goes back to being unique and a snowflake. Most of you aren’t. You are 21st century factory workers working at identical desks doing identical work to other 21 century factory workers. You are commodities who will be disposable again when the next recession lands (particularly you, Ms. or Mr C Suite Executive who think of yourself as so essential to your firm’s well-being). 

Every era has its snowflake. In the movie, “The Graduate,” which introduced America to Dustin Hoffman as a recent college grad, the audience breaks into hysterics when his character, Benjamin, is told by his parents’ friend that there is one word he must remember in order to be successful . . . Plastics. Plastics was the hot tech circa the 1960’s that would guaranty his future.

We can all laugh at the line, even now. After all, Benjamin would probable have been laid off 5 or 6 times had he pursued his dream as a visionary leader in plastics.

Take your ego out of the equation and describe yourself and your work in 15 words without using a cliche. Speak as person to another without using a cliche. Communicate clearly without sarcasm (yes, I have used sarcasm to make a point about how unappealing it is). Overselling yourself and your abilities is a waste of time.


© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC  2017    


For more, job search advice, read, “5 Things C Level Professionals Should Always Do When Engaged in a Job Search.




Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2000 episodes.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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