Most of my day is spent interviewing clients, writing resumes, and returning calls to critique job search documents and quote fees for our services at 1st Rate Resumes. From time to time I come across very accomplished people, with decent documents who are getting callbacks for interviews, but not getting the job. Usually by the end of our conversation, I know why. They overuse crutch words and filler phrases, like ya know, uh, I mean, uh, well, they just come across as, well, um, how do I say, inarticulate and unintelligent.

I tend to pick up these words and phrases as well. Lately, I say “actually” a lot. “Basically” is also another fill word that doesn’t add much to the conversation. Neither does “just” or “very.”

Growing up, I used bad grammar and similar terms in high school to fit in, or sound “cool.” My step-dad, Colonel Geary constantly brought it to my attention. At the time it annoyed me. Today I’m thankful, for I would have never made it as a radio announcer saying “me and Sarah went to the beach.”

Telling clients they need to clean up their diction is not an easy task. Most folks are unaware of their crutch words and phrases unless someone brings it to their attention. Therefore, I highly recommend Toastmasters. This group helped me to slow down, pause, practice, and concentrate on what I want to say. You can find a group in your area at Best of all, the semi-annual dues are dirt cheap. However, you do not need to join. You can attend as a guest for as long as you like. And the networking opportunities can also aid in your job search.

So if your resume is generating callbacks, but you’re not getting past the phone interview, you may need to examine how you answer questions. It’s not only what we say that matters, but how well we say it.

Wishing you success in your career.

–Susan Geary / 1st Rate Resumes