The reason may be far more simple than you might expect: you are trying too hard.
We try so hard to impress — especially in resumes, cover letters, and job applications — In the end, all it does it make us less real to the reader. In the Social Age, after all, we are looking for “authentic” and “transparent” — not academic, unapproachable or fluffy.
During your job search and in your personal branding, do you see any of these signs that you just might be trying too hard?
1. You Use Big Words
In a connection request on LinkedIn, you might say: “I wish to inquire about the possibility of your company expanding in the near future.” Why, when what you really want to know is, “Is your company is hiring?”
If it’s a line you would never say in conversation, don’t write it in a job application.
2. You Use Adjectives Instead of Stories
In a cover letter, you tell people you’re “energetic, focused and determined.” That’s not real. It’s more like pleading for people to believe you. What proof do they have? What proof have you provided?
How about a story to show how you’re energetic, focused and determined? Like this one. That’s real.
3. You Work Hard Just to Sound Like Everyone Else
Every time you write a line like “I am uniquely qualified for this position,” delete it immediately and replace with specific details on why you’re uniquely qualified.
“I spent the last two years as the assistant director of development for the United Way of Greater Cleveland, and the job has prepared me for [name of company]. For instance, at the United Way I…”
Everyone says they’re “uniquely qualified.” But you’re not like everyone…right?
4. One Word: Utilize
This is the one word that screams: “I’m smart look at me.” You would never say this word in a real conversation, and yet there it is… in nearly every resume and cover letter.
5. Two Words: Such As
Again, “such as” is a phrase we use to elevate our writing and ‘wow’ people. It doesn’t.
Want to look poised and mature? Let your guard down, and be human. An easy way — use “like” instead of “such as.”
6. You Apparently Never Ask for (or Need) Help
Especially recent grads. I read a cover letter in which a 22 year old called herself a marketing “guru.” Well, let me just show you to your new corner office as company CEO.
The irony is employers would much rather hire someone who is raw but willing to be molded. Matthew Ross is a perfect example — learn from him.
7. You Fail to Be Vulnerable
No one is perfect. We all make mistakes, especially at work. Own where you might have messed up — and along the way tell a good story that shows humility and insight you couldn’t have gained any other way.
Instead: show how the challenges in your life and career have fueled you — and led to success!
Bosses have read enough applications where people use fancy words to sound like anyone but themselves.
Next time around? Be real. Be different.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at News to Live By!
About the Author: Danny Rubin is the creator and writer of News To Live By, a blog for Millennials that highlights the career advice and leadership lessons “hidden” in the day’s top stories. In one short-and-sweet column, Danny recaps a top news story and explains how it can make us better at our jobs. He’s a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and Business Insider, and his work has also been featured in The New York Times. Follow News To Live By on Twitter.