The One Word That Completely Stalls Your Career

Do Not ThinkThere’s one word that can do more harm than any other when it comes to your career. The very use of this word cuts the legs out from underneath your credibility.

What is this powerful word? “Think”

As in:

  • “I think I’m good at…”
  • “I can do this job, I think.”

When I’m interviewing clients about their accomplishments or abilities, they will use “I think…” And if they use it with me, they are using it with potential employers, customers and mentors. That’s not good. Not good at all.

Why is this one word so damaging? Because when you say it, here’s what people really think:

“You think… but you don’t know for a fact?”

Assertive and confident people KNOW. They know what they’re good at (and what they are not good at). They know the tasks they perform well (and what they don’t). When discussing their abilities, they don’t hedge. They don’t second-guess. They don’t think. And they know: by using the word, “think,” they would be expressing self-doubt or de-emphasizing their abilities.

They simply are who they are… and they are confident in their ability to make a difference.

Arriving at this place where you are confident enough to state, “I drive results” versus “I think I can do it” is a seminal moment in a career.

.I always say we can blame our parents for shaming us into never owning our accomplishments. “Don’t boast about yourself, dear… it’s unbecoming,” is a common refrain many of us were taught. But not being able to assertively talk about your abilities in a way that commands confidence is just as bad as bragging like a braying mule.

When it boils down to it, employers simply don’t know you. And it’s your job to tell them what they need to know. By hedging and demurring, you are hurting yourself by not owning your abilities in a way that reassures the employer about what you can do.

So the next time you are put on the spot, avoid saying, “I think.” Instead, connect the word “I” with an action verb, then a specific result:

  • “I exceeded quota by 132 percent last quarter.”
  • “I lead by inspiring my team toward a common goal”
  • “I take on every challenge, head on.”

This one change in your job search strategy – this one small adjustment in how you write your cover letter and resume and how you answer questions in an interview – completely alters how others perceive you.

Give it a try… the results will amaze you!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Pathfinder Writing and Career Services!




Dawn Rasmussen 3About the Author: Dawn Rasmussen, CMP is President of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services, a provider of results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services.

Dawn is also the official “Get the Job” columnist for One+ Magazine distributed to over 26,000 meeting professionals worldwide and, a job resource site for creative and marketing professionals. Dawn is also a recognized career expert on – a top 10 world-ranked career advice blog – and a regular contributor to’s #TChat. Follow Dawn on Twitter!



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