You are not a: Maven, Guru or Ninja, please stop

Digital native, marketing maven, social media guru, communications ninja. We see these terms all the time, but what do they actually mean? Absolutely nothing, and apart from making people roll their eyes at your resume/twitter account/blog they could be costing you interviews. Let’s all do ourselves a favor and cut the meaningless buzz words and focus on solid brand and resume building.

Mavens, Gurus and More

People rely on buzz words and hip terms because they’re catchy; catchy, but essentially meaningless. Let’s take the term communications ninja, or anything ninja really. From the perspective of a hiring manager or a recruiter, exactly what does a ninja do? And how would hiring a ninja improve xyz company? The term ninja literally means a covert agent or mercenary from Japan. Unless you’re applying for a job at the CIA, being a covert agent probably isn’t going to get you very far in the interview process.

There are similar qualms with terms like ‘maven’ and ‘guru’. Maven and guru of course refer to highly regarded teachers or masters of their subject. Unlike ninja, there is an appeal to labeling yourself as a master of your craft, but is it wise to make such a bold claim?

A truly esteemed and trusted individual would not have to label themselves as such, it’s already known and easily supported by a quick google search. Unless you have a blog with thousands of readers daily, are a published author on the subject, or give sold out lectures, you should probably shy away from calling yourself a maven, guru, or any variation of the term.

Space is extremely limited on your resume. Do you really want to fill it with useless terms or would you rather impress the reader with solid experience? I think we all know what the correct answer is.

Ditch the Maven

Now that we’re done with meaningless terms, lets talk about what you can say about yourself instead. Establishing a personal brand is critical to your success on the interwebs and digital sphere. Forbes has a great guide to building a personal brand, as do many other sites. If you are looking for something a bit more interactive, check out Pace University’s Ebook Personal Brand Week: Your Name is Just the Start.

Pinpointing your skills and talents is an important step to being able to properly marketing and brand yourself. It will also lead you away from falling into the trap of using space fillers and toward appropriate, meaningful keywords.

What to Say Instead

Once you outline your personal brand, take a moment to identify keywords which support your career goals. Job has a great list of appropriate keywords for resumes and cover letters, as does AIE. Do not feel limited by these lists, there are a ton of great resources out there, but nothing beats organic thought, because nobody knows you like you do!

So please, stop making recruiters roll their eyes at your resume, or worse, throw it away! A little brand building can go a long way. Utilize the limited space you do have to provide meaningful information and land that interview! You can always be a ninja on the weekends.

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  1. Yes yes yes! So true. My boss sometimes calls me a community ninja. I obviously appreciate the compliment, but including that on your resume is pretty darn awful. Loving your blog by the way. I just discovered it.

  2. Agreed, the ninja thing stopped being cool in the 1990’s. I remember using it as a verb – “hey, ninja the saltshaker this way”. Does that show my age, lol?

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