Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, William Schmarzo, Carmen Gonzalez, Jim Kaskade, Lori MacVittie

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Job Applications: Don’t Try to Sound Smart. It Only Makes You Look Dumb.

Thinking Hard

President Obama wants Millennials to understand the Affordable Care Act and consider signing up for health insurance.

So, the president enlisted a popular celebrity to put the legislation in plain English.

Easy explanation, right? The White House can’t afford to overcomplicate heath care with 20-somethings.

Why? In the final days of the open enrollment period, over four million people have chosen a plan via the health care marketplace, but Gen Y only comprises a quarter of that number.

LeBron’s commercial is a perfect reminder to keep things simple — especially with cover letters and job applications. Too often, we want to appear intelligent, savvy and proficient with high-brow language.

Here’s the reality  When you write above your comfort level, you end up looking silly. Just talk to an employer like you would a friend. Be normal and conversational.

In short: be yourself.

Stop Trying to Sound Smart. It Only Makes You Look Dumb.

Trying too hard: I wish to inquire about the possibility of your company expanding in the near future.

Simple translation: I’m curious to know if your company is hiring.

Trying too hard: My experience thus far has proven that I have a distinguished track record and a penchant for success.

Simple translation: I have a proven track record in our field, and here’s why.

Note: Then you give concrete, detailed examples to back up the claim. That’s how you make a job application valuable.

Trying too hard: If you are able to set aside time in your schedule, might we be able to meet for a face-to-face conversation, perhaps over coffee?

Simple translation: Are you free this week for coffee?

Trying too hard: My most recent job taught me the immense importance of human communication, and why it’s incumbent as an individual to stay in touch with my superiors on all work-related projects.

Simple translation: I know the importance of constant communication with all team members.

Note: Never refer to yourself as an “individual.” That doesn’t sound sophisticated. It sounds like you’re part of some medical research project.

Trying too hard: The work I undertook in my previous position was arduous yet gratifying.

Simple translation: My most recent job was a challenge, but I came away with terrific experience. For example…

Trying too hard: I want to send along a short email and ascertain if you have received my job application. When you have a moment, please send back a correspondence as to the status of my application.

Simple translation: Please let me know if you have received my job application.

Note: Here’s the proper way to follow up on a job application.

On Your Resume 

Trying too hard: Assisted in the preparation and dissemination of all corporate social media communication with internal staff and outside clientele.

Simple translation: Created content for the company’s various social media channels.

Trying too hard: Served as executive assistant to the program’s executive director, handled a variety of critical inter-office assignments and liaisoned with senior staffers on major national accounts.

Note: Don’t be fancy and vague. Tell us exactly what you did. And never use “liaisoned.” Yuck.

Simple translation: As executive assistant, drafted office-wide memorandums, conducted research for senior staffers and made sure executive director never missed a meeting despite a non-stop schedule.

Mission Statement

Trying too hard: To be an integral and highly productive member of a progressive, forward-thinking team unit and leverage my deep understanding and appreciation of our field to the benefit of myself, my office mates and the clients with which we interact and serve.

Simple translation: To be a valued team member who will work hard everyday, push myself to learn at each opportunity and focus 100% on helping the company grow and succeed.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.

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