Words and Phrases to Avoid Saying When Job Searching

Business Meeting
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There are some things you should say when you’re job searching, and there are others that are better left unsaid. It’s always important to keep your job search positive, even if you don’t feel great about yourself or having to find a new job.

Negativity is easy to pick up during a job interview, and employers don’t want to hire negative, cranky, or difficult people.

There is power in positivity and companies want to hire employees who do their best to look on the bright side and avoid complaining.

The words you use during networking meetings and interviews should reflect a positive outlook, as well as your enthusiasm for being considered for a job or a referral.

If you come across as negative, if your ability to carry on a conversation is limited, or if your vocabulary is punctuated by slang, acronyms, and too many fillers such as “umm” or “like” or “you know” it’s not going to make the best impression.

What to Say When You’re Interviewing and Networking

What to say to networking contacts and hiring managers is relatively simple. It’s important to keep it professional and to avoid anything too personal.

The person interviewing you doesn’t need to know about your personal life, your family, your friends, your politics, or anything else unrelated to employment.

The interviewer may ask questions like “What are you passionate about?” To learn more about you and how you would fit in with the company culture, but let them bring it up first. Then carefully respond to any inquiries, keeping the focus as much on work as possible.

There’s no need to volunteer personal information. Sharing too much can hinder your chances of getting hired if it raises a red flag about your availability or your qualifications for the job. The bottom line is that the hiring manager wants to know why you are qualified for the job, and that’s what you should highlight in your conversations. Take the time to match your qualifications to the job, and focus on your strongest credentials.

With networking contacts, it depends. When you’re meeting or talking to a business contact, the same rules as discussing personal information with an interviewer apply. Keep it professional. If you know the person you’re connecting with personally, and well, it’s fine to share more.

Taking the time to prepare and to connect appropriately will ensure every networking meeting you have will be a success.

What Not to Say During a Job Search

One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is not brushing up on their communication skills prior to meetings and job interviews. One of the criteria employers use when selecting applicants to hire is the ability to communicate well, and a candidate who is lacking the basics will have a harder time getting hired.

What shouldn’t you say when you’re looking for a job? What terms are going to make an employer think twice about hiring you? The words and phrases to avoid using fit into two categories.

Topics To Not Bring Up

There are topics that should be off-limits when talking to a prospective employer or even to a networking contact, like these:

  • I hate my job
  • I didn’t get along with my boss
  • The company was awful to work for
  • That wasn’t my job
  • I wasn’t paid enough
  • I need time off for…
  • Can the schedule be changed?

There are also the terms that are part of everyday conversation but don’t come across well when you’re discussing employment with a hiring manager. Even an “awesome” or a “but” can interrupt the flow of conversation.

Cringeworthy Words and Phrases

  • Actually
  • Ah
  • Awesome
  • But
  • Chill
  • Huh
  • Hmm
  • I didn’t mean to
  • I don’t know
  • I don’t remember
  • I mean
  • I meant
  • I tried
  • I wouldn’t
  • Kind of
  • Like
  • Totally
  • Uhh
  • Uh-huh
  • Uh-oh
  • Uh-uh
  • Umm
  • You guys
  • You know
  • You know what I mean

Tips for Keeping It Professional at a Job Interview

Get rid of the filler words. It can be hard to eliminate some of the unnecessary words that you use all the time from your professional vocabulary, but if you practice you’ll soon be able to speak more fluently in a professional setting.

Tip: If you listen to yourself talk, you’ll hear how often you use fillers. That can be a good way to start eliminating them from your professional conversations.

Use proper grammar and avoid slang. That’s especially true if you’re in a role where business communication skills are vital. You’ll be representing your employer, and the organization will expect you to be able to carry on a high-level discussion.

Tip: Practice answering interview questions and talking in complete sentences. Ask a friend or family member to help or record yourself speaking to get a sense of what you can improve upon. The more comfortable you are discussing your qualifications, the easier it will be.

Take time to respond. Even though you may feel like you need to blurt out an interview answer immediately, you don’t have to. It is acceptable to frame a response and know what you’re going to say before you start talking.

Tip: Wait for a second or two before you talk. It will be easier to focus on what you want to say when you give yourself a little time to phrase it.