So many people are still using convoluted ways of selling themselves in job applications and interviews, instead of just saying what they mean. I know, you’re nervous about being cocky. But your panel members are tired and when you expect them to read between the lines to come to a conclusion, they’ll almost always come to a different conclusion than the one you had in mind.

Stop making things complicated. If you’re a good team player, just say that instead of beating around the bush.

Links I mentioned in this episode:

8. Say What You Mean – Transcript

[00:00:00] Hi, there I’m Bec McFarland the host of the Pop Your Career Podcast. As a career coach, I’m most passionate about helping my clients to discover their own personal flavour of career fulfillment. In this podcast, we are going to be exploring ways that you too can feel more fulfilled by your work. So strap yourself in, get ready for the ride. The tips around here are fast and in abundance.

[00:00:29] Hello hello. It’s Bec McFarland here helping you do better and be better in your career. And today I’ve got a nice little quick bite sized episode for you today. I’m going to be talking about why you should always say what you mean. Now you might be wondering what that means, but I am going to go ahead and explain it to you.[00:01:00]

[00:01:00] So one of the common mistakes that I find that people make when they’re preparing a resume, putting together a job application, going for an interview, or in some way, trying to sell themselves, is that they kind of go through this process of like hoping that the person on the other end will come to a certain conclusion based on the information that they’ve been provided.

[00:01:23] And so what I mean by this is that in your application, you might say for example, that you worked with a team in order to achieve a certain result. And what is really happening here is that you are hoping that the person on the other end, the panel member or the employer, whoever it is, you’re hoping that they’re going to read between the lines and make an assumption that you are a good team player because of the fact that you have done it.

[00:01:52] Now, unfortunately, whenever you rely on somebody else to come to a conclusion based on [00:02:00] them reading between the lines, I can almost guarantee you that they are going to come to a completely different conclusion.

[00:02:06] And the reason for this is not that they’re trying to be obtuse, but when you think about it, hiring managers or panel members are often totally overworked. They are desperate to find the ideal candidate to fill the role. Maybe they are reading hundreds of applications or they’re interviewing many, many candidates over a whole period of a day. So they’re tired. They are doing their best to work with the information that they have. They’re having to maintain their alertness for a long period of time and also be quite discerning in terms of the way that they assess the applicants.

[00:02:41] So you can appreciate and understand why they may not necessarily pick up what you’re putting down, if you are not being really clear about it. So a great example of this is a long-term myth, that absolutely makes me want to bang my head. To wall. People have [00:03:00] been telling this story for years and years and years back from like when I was a kid that when you write your resume, you should put your interests on there.

[00:03:09] And if you do something like play team sports, then you should definitely say that on your resume because then the employer is going to know that you’re a great team player. But here’s the thing. I am not really that into team sports. You probably know that if you know me at all. But over the years, you know, I have played some team sports and I’ve definitely watched some team sports.

[00:03:33] And what I can tell you is that, not everyone who plays team sports is actually a great team player. In fact, we’ve seen it time and time again in the media where different sports people have gotten up to no good and they have done the opposite of what you would call sportsmanship. So with this in mind, we don’t want to expect the panel member to come to that realization or come to that conclusion on their own [00:04:00] because they are definitely not going to get there.

[00:04:03] So what do you do instead? Well, I am a huge advocate of saying what you mean, and if you’re a good team player, this means that you should tell the panel member, whether that be in your application or in your interview.

[00:04:17] Now a really great way to do this is to talk about what you have actually done in your career and then break it down and talk about the skills that you have demonstrated in doing so. Now people sometimes get a little bit confused about this, right? Because we have the STAR method and believe me, that is a whole other episode.

[00:04:38] But when we are describing our actions or the things that we’ve done in our work in order to get to a result, most of the time, most candidates believe that that’s all they really need to communicate. Whenever I am interviewing, though, I can tell the candidates that have really put in the work to thinking about how they [00:05:00] meet the criteria for a job.

[00:05:01] And they’re always taking things to the next level, by breaking it down and talking about the skills. So one way that you could do this could be by providing an example of something that you have done in your career.

[00:05:14] An example of that could be: When I was working at company ABC, I coordinated a group of people to work on a specific project that had been delegated to me by the CEO. The first thing that I did in this project was to put together a project plan, identify the skills that were required, and then identify the team members that we would need to bring on board to ensure that the project was fully resourced.

[00:05:41] Okay. So that is a great way that we’ve started to describe something that I have done in my career, but we want to take it to the next level, right?

[00:05:49] By talking directly about the skills that I demonstrated. So what I might say is: In doing this, I demonstrated [00:06:00] exceptional project management skills with the ability to organize, not just my own work, but also the work of a team. I also demonstrated the ability to work well with other people, to be able to identify the skills that were required for the project and to be able to delegate tasks efficiently. So you can see that I’ve really taken that example to the next level, by not just talking about what I did, but also by focusing on what I demonstrated.

[00:06:28] That’s all I wanted to share with you today. I hope that this tip was really helpful for you. If you need a little bit more information about it, or if you want to continue the conversation, I would love for you to join me over on social media. You can find me a Pop Your Career everywhere, and I would love to chat with you further about this idea. Thanks very much have a beautiful day and I will see you in the next episode.

[00:06:51] Thanks so much for listening to the Pop Your Career podcast. I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s tips and that you found value in what I’ve shared with you.[00:07:00] If you like your career advice quick and entertaining, I would love for you to subscribe. Also leave me a rating and a review. If you want to continue the conversation, come and join me over on social media. You can find me everywhere at Pop Your Career. I’ll see you soon.

[00:07:15] This episode is brought to you by the Career Clarity Quest, my absolutely free, seven day program, which is designed to support you in getting so much clearer about your next steps. Find it at


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About the author 


Bec McFarland is an experienced HR practitioner, manager, career coach and the creator of Pop Your Career. She delights in sharing practical, straight to the point career advice, spending time with her family and eating Mexican food.