I rarely like to give advice but whenever we have a job opportunity at work I feel the need. As I am a fond advocate for the Plain English Campaign; I find there are certain concepts you can convey to people in very simple terms. If you can use 5 words to make a statement, don’t try to use 10. So my number 1 pet hate, the thing that really puts me off a candidate from the start is the word “believe”.
I don’t care what you believe about yourself, I care what you know. However new to the job market you are, you know if you are hard-working, polite, professional or positive. Let me give you some real world examples from some real world cv’s / personal statements.
“I Believe that I am a very positive person”
Well, for a start you have capitalised the “B” in believe, my most irritative of words but I can overlook that. You are either positive or you are not, by saying that you believe it you are saying: “You might not think I’m positive, but to hell with what you think!”
“I love marketing because I believe I’m somewhat creative myself”
I mean come on man, not only are you uncertain as to your creativity, you are uncertain as to whether you are slightly creative. The statement, in plain English, is: “I love marketing because I’m creative”.
“I believe I am a highly diverse individual”
I’m not even sure what that means, if it means you are adaptable, say: “I am a very adaptable person”, if indeed adaptable is what you meant.
“I believe I am a hard working individual”
What? Surely, if you’ve ever done any kind of work ever, you compare yourself to those around you. If you work harder than most, you are hard-working. If you only believe you are hard-working you are using some standard of measurement that is independent of a standard social measurement of hard-working.
Now I know this is England and we don’t like to say good things about ourselves, but at the end of the day, you need a job. Putting the caveat of “I believe” is not going to prevent you from getting the sack if you turn out not to be whatever it is you believe, and if that thing is hard-working then you’d probably get sacked anyway. If you want to sell yourself, you need to make positive affirmations about your attributes, not wishy washy non-committal waffle.
There are of course, times when the word believe may be an asset, this is at interview stage where you may want to impress the interviewer with your ideas on improving company performance without being too insistent and denting his ego, but you need to get to the interview by saying what you know.
[rant mode off]
Good luck people.