Knowing what I do for a living, I was recently approached by someone that just finished reading Think Like A Freak, the latest book by bestselling authors Levitt and Dubner, and asked my opinion on an intriguing question posed in the book; What are the 3 hardest words to say in the English language? After taking a moment to reflect, I answered “I Love You?” She winked and said “that’s a good answer, but I think you’ll appreciate their answer a lot more.” She was right.
According to Levitt and Dubner the three hardest words for you and I to say are also the reason many American’s fail to accomplish certain important tasks and goals in life; and why the results they do achieve when they cross the finish line is mediocrity. I find this especially true in my field; most resumes are at best mediocre and a mediocre resume does not secure interviews and job offers.
So what are these 3 magic words that are so hard to say? They are I DON’T KNOW!!!
Ask people whether they agree or disagree with a statement about a topic they are not knowledgeable about and you’ll tend to get a Yes or No answer from them, and on rare occasion a Maybe. Drill down a bit more and more often than not you’ll find the answer they should have given is “I don’t know.”
The reason this phrase is problematical for many often comes down to their inability to overcome two emotions; insecurity and ego. A lot of people just can’t do this.
I find that to achieve at the highest level in most of life’s endeavors, writing an impressive resume being one, is based not so much on what you know but in knowing and admitting what you don’t know. This is a top trait of people who excel, and are able to do so without the tribulations of learning the hard and costly way by means of the trial and error process. In anything you and I attempt to do there is no shame in admitting that there will come a time when we need to admit that someone else can do what I’m attempting to do way better than I can.
It amazes me how many people will attempt to write a resume without first knowing what is expected in the document in terms of content and presentation for their level and in their field. It amazes me even more when they are given a glimpse into the nuances of resume writing how, all of a sudden, they think they know everything there is to know about the topic and now, magically, they are capable of writing a superior resume that will resonate with their audience.
My suggestion to all DIY resume writers who don’t know how to write a good resume is to man-up (or woman-up) and admit that “I don’t know” when you are faced with doubt and uncertainty as to whether what you are doing is right or wrong and thus may not yield the desired results.
I’d like to take this one step further. The next 3 words to come out of your mouth when you admit “I don’t know” something is “I need help.” However they should not be said to just anyone; instead they should be addressed to a person or professional who is truly capable of helping you. If you can learn to put these 2 phrases (6 simple words) into your vocabulary I guarantee you will have much better results in your job search and in life.
PS: I recommend all 3 Levitt and Dubner books: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, Super Freakonomics and Think like a Freak. All three are super insightful, thought provoking and entertaining reading.
As a courtesy to all readers, I am happy to offer a no cost / no obligation resume critique if you forward it along to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.