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Shut Up!

Knowing what to say and how to say it is crucial in a job search – but so is the opposite

➔ At one time or another we’ve all heard about how important speaking is during a job search. Whether it’s a job interview or a networking event, the importance of knowing what to say, when to say it, and how to say it is the stuff of legends. How true.

Like many notions, however, there is a flip side: knowing when to shut up.

Restraint is an important part of communicating

It’s been said that the best networkers are the best listeners. Also true. If you want to engage someone in conversation, ask pertinent questions and then get out of the way and let them answer. Most people love to talk about themselves.

During a job interview, on the other hand, if you remain silent while the interviewer is speaking, you’ll most likely hear the interviewer tell you what’s important about this job, this company and how you can become part of it all. The interviewer will lead you down the path. All you have to do is follow.

When you are speaking during any of these conversations – and, by the way, this same thought holds true for saying things in documents such as resumes and cover letters – don’t say anything you can’t prove. If you claim that you increased productivity, output, profitability – whatever, be prepared to back it up with something tangible. Don’t expect an interviewer to just “take your word for it.”

Realistically some things are difficult to corroborate. Use this rule of thumb, the greater the claim, the more critical it is to provide some sort of back up. In this case, let the data or evidence do your talking for you. With hard evidence in hand, you don’t need to speak.

Unfortunately this can be a difficult skill to master. Remember the networking event? Those people you struck up conversations with loved to ramble on about themselves. It’s very easy for you to fall into that same trap. Be careful. Be judicious. Choose your words carefully.

As former Cleveland Browns, Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown said, “When you win, say nothing. When you lose, say less.”

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