It is Your Story, Stop Letting Others Define It

dead end signI am not a fan of titles.  Often times they are misleading, meaningless or misunderstood.

Often they give a false sense of security, importance, expertise and value.

One of my favorite examples is a scene from the West Wing, one of my all-time favorite shows, in which President Bartlet meets a radio talk show host, Dr. Jacobs.  In the beginning of the scene, he asks if she is an MD, she replies she has a PhD.  He asked if it is Theology, Psychology or Social Work; nope, it is in English Literature.

He tells her that he asks because people call in to her show for advice she goes by name Dr. Jacobs and wondered if her listeners were confused by that and assumed she had advanced training in Theology, Psychology or HealthCare.

That scene never gets old.  Of course, Sam taking her crab puff at the end was the cherry on top.

Back to my point and to bring us to today’s topic: standing behind a title alone does not convey your value just as using vague or generic terms does not convey your value.

Examples of titles and general words include Sales Representative, Manager, manage and support.

What you are actually doing when you use these words or title is allowing the reader or listener to assign value to you based on their own experiences and understanding.

I had Managers in the past who were great mentors, they rolled up their sleeves and pitched in and they made sure we all understood our role and the greater mission.  I also had Managers that barely spoke to the team and told us to just get it done, went in their office and shut the door.  If you are a Manager, which one are you?  If you do not tell me then you are allowing me to assign your value based on my experience.  What if I have only experienced terrible Managers?  Then your value is significantly decreased based on my own interpretation.

Using non-descript words in your resume to define your duties follows the same principle.

If you state that you ‘supported a group of clients to receive the tools needed to achieve their goals’, what are you really telling me?  My concept of support may be vastly different from yours.  Do not assume I know what you mean.  It is your story, tell me the important points in the way you want me to interpret and understand them.

What does support mean?  How did you support them?  How active was your role, what were your contributions and what value did you bring to the venture?  As a side note, I would also ask if the clients achieve their goals or just got the tools they needed.

I am not advocating eliminating words such as manage and support.  Instead, use them in describing and demonstrating your value rather than detail your duties.


Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


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