How To Be Cliche

what is cliche?I was reading a blog post this morning about China’s Silicon Valley when a certain phrase caught my eye:

P&G’s strategy conforms nicely with Chinese President Hu Jintao’s plan, announced in 2006, to turn China into an “innovation-oriented” country by 2021. (go to the post here…)

Doesn’t every country’s president want their country to be innovation-oriented? Is this really news, or a big deal? Or is it just, well, noise? I’m not bashing China, or their strategy (or the fact that they hope it happens in the next 14 years), but this sounds like tired talk to me. It sounds like rhetoric. It is too cliche. Check out the first definition of cliche from

what is cliche?

So are you cliche? Do you have a tired, boring or over-used statement, phrase, or “pitch?” I’ve found it hard to come up with personal elevator pitches because I feel like I’m trying to jam as many cliche things into 30 seconds as possible. Something like this:

Blah Blah Blah!With over 10 years in the internet industry I have the experience to help your company reach it’s goals. I like to do things on time and under budget. I do it right the first time. I have received 14 employee of the month awards. References available upon request… blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah …”

Doesn’t that pain you just reading it?

So how do you become less cliche, and more interesting?? If this is your problem I recommend you go to the library and pick up Brag! If you don’t have time, figure out how you can incorporate really interesting stories into your communication. When I was at a convention recently and people asked “so what is JibberJobber” I started my response like this:

“When I was laid off last year I used an Excel spreadsheet to manage my job search. When I got over 100 companies I outgrew what Excel could do for me… and I realized that all of this information would be great to really keep and grow during my career (since I’ll change jobs “every 3 – 5 years”). So… “

It was story-based, hopefully not “overused.” How do you keep from being cliche? Or what are the cliche things that you are TIRED of hearing?

7 thoughts on “How To Be Cliche”

  1. I don’t have an elevator speech. I know I should have one, but mine sounds like,

    “Um, I’m a writer… on the Internet… with a buncha websites and stuff.”

    I guess I need to work on that. What we do here isn’t as easy to describe as “I fix cars.” Most people don’t even understand the Internet enough to comprehend what I do. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t even bother. Sometimes I just feel like saying,

    “I do porn.”

    It would be easier, if only people would believe it when they saw me…

  2. Make the hurting stop! No more resume blather!

    The biggest cliche among technical candidate is, “Yeah – I could learn that. I can do anything.”

    Virtually all of the technical candidates, when they come up against a skills area that they don’t have, let fly with that one.

    Please stop. As recruiters, we only have so much self control.


  3. When you think that China has been the world’s factory and the leadership wants it’s people to progress beyond being factory workers, then I think setting goals to be an innovation economy are not cliche. I think that every government that cares a lick about its people would want this kind of goal.

    I’d not want my children to grow up without the opportunity to be better/do more than me…

  4. Good point David. I don’t have a problem with them DOING it, it’s great. Everyone should be able to have a better opportunity, I agree. By no means was this a bash on China or any political statement.

    When I read this it sounded like typical mumbo-jumbo empty words. Like all of the places that say “we’re like silicon valley but somewhere else” … there’s silicon alley, silicon forest, silicon triange…. all this means is that there are a bunch of tech companies, right? Why be a “me too” … an over used…. cliche?

    Anyway, I hope that my example of China’s president’s words doesn’t muddy up my point of being cliche. Best wishes to their endeavors and hopefully their people can enjoy a richer lifestyle and freedoms that other countries enjoy.

  5. This is one of those posts that’s outside the square. I love it. I especially love your concept of being story-based. To stop jobseekers i train from being cliche I recommend that they stop writing adjectives when it comes to personal qualities and start writing verbs. Their cover letter then doesn’t read “I am hardworking and keen.”; rather it may read “I loved my last position because it kept me busy, kept me thinking on my feet and left me feeling like I’d accomplished something at the end of the day. I’m hoping I can find that kind of work with you.”

    Ok, it might still smack of spin, but it’s better than “I can do anything” or “I’m a hardworker”

  6. There is a thin red line between being too cliche; “Implement turnkey marketing campaigns that produce excellent ROI” blah blah blah is certainly one that makes most hiring managers patiently tap their pens as they wait for you to say something REALLY interesting. However, what one poster referred to above “I …. uhhh …. well, I uhhhh…. I write for a website and …. uuhh, online stuff”. No, not so much. I wouldn’t hire either one of those two candidates; one too slick and “lingo” addicted and the other clearly not overly passionate about her job.

    Agree with the other folks here about the story based. My approach? “Hey, this is my demographic, my market and my peer group. I know what he/she wants and they don’t want this … fluff. The beauty of that is that I also know what she does not want. That knowledge will save this company money because we will not spend it where it is not wanted. Instead, we will give the customer what he/she wants, in the tone they want it in and in the channel they expect to see it. Then we shall sit back and share a coffee, as we watch the figures on the scree trend up and up and up. We will smile. ” …. blah blah blah … sOMETHING to shake the recruiter or hiring manager up from the dreary hum drum of hearing every single candidate sounding alike.

    If you could only answer one question that would set you apart, answer “What is it about your product/brand/service I absolutely love and why” (if you can’t find that answer, go interview elsewhere; you’re dead there anyway) and let that show. It’s the best start you can get! Plus, it will relax you. 🙂

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