It’s long become a known fact that over half (yes, half) of Canadians have pursued post-secondary education and, at the very least, over 20% of the market is filled with university graduates (a number that continues to rise daily). Millennial (twenty-to-thirty-somethings) in particular are becoming more specialized, more skilled, more available for positions in which university-acquired proficiencies are considered imperative and non-flexible.
Basically, the Canadian job market has been slowly but surely filling itself up with a smarter, more educated workforce who has finally begun to catch up to the need the market has for their skills. Well done, graduates! The workforce has risen to the challenge demanded by improving and increasingly-complex economic conditions. Grads have worked hard to specialize themselves in one way or another, to become something different, to get that degree alongside that internship (even if it sucked at the time), to stand out from the grad next to them. So once it’s time to job-hunt in the “real” marketplace, do you really want to reduce yourself to being a “dynamic team-player?” Graduates and seasoned workers alike, when it comes to identifying yourself and separating yourself from the herd of hyper-educated Millennials charging behind you in the rear-view mirror, you can do better.
Let me rephrase that; you must do better.
And so, a few clichés to avoid (at all costs – seriously):
- “Dynamic”: Everyone is dynamic, especially when job-hunting, and if you’re not dynamic, don’t bother leaving your couch for your next interview. Any contact you have with a company, recruiter, or network contact should be infused with dynamism – your first interview is that first impression, and it starts with a pleasant and outgoing personality, smart conversation, and a humble yet interesting display of your skills. You know how awesome you are, but *spoiler alert* the rest of the business world doesn’t; it’s your job to prove to them, with every contact you have, that you could easily become a part of their world without breaking a sweat, like the boss you’ll surely be (eventually). Confidence, anti-cliché, interesting: there’s being dynamic for you.
- “Team-Player”: Of course you are – you and I both know that; would you be anything less? Has there been evidence to prove that you are somehow in fact a selfish egomaniac? Announcing what should be obvious often has a backward end-result, and people begin to question things they might normally assume to be fact. It’s kind of like saying the phrase “To be honest” at the beginning of every sentence you speak: are you normally lying? Are you really being honest this time in particular, as opposed to other times, hence the announcement? The business world is, whether you like it or not, a complex network of teams, and that “team-player” mentality governs, bolsters, and allows businesses to operate on a daily basis. There’s no “I” in team, but there is one in “cliché” – don’t become one by calling yourself a “team-player” (just don’t).
- “Hard-working”: …seriously? Do I really have to explain this one? If you’re not interested in working hard, your career will hardly work. Work hard, work always: your career doesn’t end between jobs, or after you’ve left the office. Improve your skills, learn new ones, study, experiment with new projects. People who are truly “hard-working” don’t need to say it; their skills, their interests, their passions say it for them.
Don’t have these exact words or phrases on your CV or cover letter? Well done! There are still tons of other ways in which we regularly display our stale, uninspiring, unimaginative conceptions of ourselves (without being conscious of it), even when we are, in reality, the exact opposite of those things. The point is, be mindful of it – cliché is easy to slip into (hence, our natural attraction to it), and especially easy to miss once it has made itself comfortable in our personal and professional lives.
The landscape of the modern marketplace has changed, period. It’s our job as employees and employers to elevate the standard of expectations for the business world accordingly – indeed, innovation is born out of a pressing-back against clichéd norms. You’re a good person, you worked hard, and you deserve a fair chance at a promising career. Don’t let bad rhetoric and even worse clichéd practices take away that chance – that’s a shame if I ever heard one.
Stefano Faustini – Headhunter, Pronexia Inc.