bbr marketing Blog
Enough With the Ridiculous Titles!
by Sarah Warlick, copywriter and editor
Describing yourself briefly to new acquaintances is an important part of introductions. It’s an integral component of everyday human interaction, whether the context is all business, purely social or somewhere in between the two.
Traditionally, we use one short sentence to give people a sense of our public identities as a way to invite further exploration, if desired, and to give those just meeting us a general sense of where we fit in their lives or society. That might sound like: I’m the Pope; I’m a federal investigator; I’m a friend of your mother’s. Most people stick to that outline fairly well in face-to-face conversation.
On our resumes and online profiles, however, many professionals have moved far away from this useful style and into the realm of meaningless garbage (e.g. I’m a creative strategist in the dynamic guru consultant space). This deplorable trend is even occasionally being employed by people standing right beside us, spouting this nonsense in front of God and everyone. As a non-judgmental (ok, so maybe I’m being a little judgmental), caring and understated (ahem) advisor, let me offer you this gentle guidance: STOP IT AT ONCE.
Writing in Inc.com, Jeff Haden offered a list of 16 terms to avoid when telling people what you do. They include:
• Results Oriented
• Global Provider
• Serial entrepreneur
I support his main point, which is that they make you look pompous, deluded and obnoxious, but will soften the blow by saying you may use some of them only under certain conditions:
You may use them singly. One at a time, these words may be reasonable. Be very, very careful, however. Under no circumstances should your profile contain, let’s say, three of them.
You may use them correctly. Have you studied yoga for many years and earned a massive following of devotees? Do you really serve clients around the world? Is your opinion universally recognized as unquestionably valid? Do you work at a museum or library? If not, then say goodbye to guru, global provider, authority and curator. Think hard about the true meaning before describing yourself with any of the words on the list. Same goes for ninja, guerilla, visionary and all the other trendy modern appellations for people who display a moderately sustained interest in a given subject.
You may use them honestly. The adjectives on his list have been so overused in recent months that they have lost all meaning. Therefore, they will only appear silly and pointless if you apply them to yourself. The fact is, very few of us on this planet are so exceptionally motivated, passionate or innovative that these words need to be utilized in an introductory description of what we do. If you’re alive, you’re both dynamic and unique. Say something else.
You may use them with common sense. Some of them simply have no place in a professional summary at all. Results-oriented? I should hope so! Incredibly? That’s subjective and unnecessary. Leave the superlatives and dramatic adverbs to those who sing your praises in sonnets, odes and eulogies. Those words are much more believable (and appealing) when applied to you by others.
Profiles, professional introductions and statements of purpose are a place to share basic, factual information that readers will find useful to know about you. Please, by all means, list your profession and your achievements and skills to the degree appropriate, but try not to get carried away. If you go overboard it will begin to sound like a dating profile, and everyone knows that those things are complete fiction. Better to stick with the minimal truth and be thought modest. Impress people with your performance and let those who’ve seen you in action write recommendations rife with flowery prose about how unbelievably awesome you are. They’ll juxtapose beautifully with the sensible, understated facts you write about what you do.
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