When Team Spirit Fizzles Your Job Search

 In Job Search Strategy

Sure, we all want to demonstrate that we have team spirit, but it can fizzle your job search.

Say what?!!!!??!!

Yes, it’s great to be rah-rah about the team when talking about past projects, but sometimes, this can be a liability, versus an asset.

In job searches, I’ve found that people start talking about their accomplishments in “we” and team spirit terms, and don’t use personal language.

But that’s not what the employer is interested in…

They aren’t hiring the rest of the team.

They are interested in what YOU can do. Not the others.

When it comes down to the interview, the rest of the co-workers aren’t in there on the hot seat with you. It is only you. The team spirit has to end right there.

And that’s what you need to be prepared to speak about.

Of course employers realize that team spirit and how well you might plug into their culture is part of the picture.  They are obviously testing to see how things might mesh if they bring you on board.

But be careful about relying too much on describing team accomplishments without really detailing your value and contribution to the overall equation being discussed.

Some ways to start reframing your thinking would be to say things like:

  • “The team was tasked to do X, and specifically, my role was to do Y. “
  • “As part of the team, my specific part in the end results was X.”
  • “After collaborating with the team, I did X to help drive us to Z results.”
  • “Working with the team was great; I learned a great deal from my counterparts and facilitated information sharing.  At the end of the day, my contribution to Z results was…”

Reframing the sentence from “We” to acknowledging a team environment but being specific to what YOUR contribution specifically was answers the burning question on employers’ minds:

“What did YOU do at the previous company, so I can make an educated guess on what you might be able to do for me?”

Understanding the perspective and showing teamwork while being clear on your value and contribution to the overall picture is a win-win situation.

Try it. It might surprise you!

Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is a Certified Advanced Résumé Writer and the president of Portland, Ore.-based Pathfinder Writing and Career Services. Clients from across the United States and Canada and from all career levels have benefited from Dawn’s highly-focused and results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services. Many professional groups as well as colleges and universities have appreciated the insights and expertise she shares during presentations on career management topics, and she is a frequently requested national speaker as a result.

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