Your Tagline, Cliche, Meaningless

Check out this tweet from Steve Levy, a professional recruiter who shoots from the hip:

What does it mean to be a transformational leader?

What does it mean to be anything?  Have attention to detail, be customer-service oriented, be a rainmaker, be ____ or ______ or _______?


When you see a resume (or email signature, or hear a 30 second pitch or any of these branding tools) that is filled with cliche, what are they saying?


They are saying nothing!

I know it means a lot to you, because after all, you are the best problem solver in the world (or whatever cliche message you have), but the problem is, it doesn’t matter what it means to you.  It matters what it means to others (NOTHING).

You have to say things in plain, simple English, and communicate your real value, or you will be saying nothing more than dribble.

And that’s not good branding.

7 thoughts on “Your Tagline, Cliche, Meaningless”

  1. Steve,
    A professional resume service recently submitted my new resume for review with the opening paragraph:
    “Global Business Executive – Sales, Marketing, Business Development, with a demonstrated ability of turning around underperforming companies and brands by launching initiatives that drive sustainable growth, maximize market potential, and achieve unprecedented levels of profitability in travel and tourism. Leverages extensive knowledge of world markets with reflective listening, to form collaborative solutions and negotiate complex contracts across multiple continents.
    Expert at navigating economic cycles to develop solution-based sales, marketing and promotional programs that strengthen brand positioning, create market leadership – while building strategic alliances along the way. Motivational leader who inspires multi-cultural teams to achieve extraordinary results.”
    Needless to say I complained. I’ve never seen such drivel. I thought you’d like yet another example of unsubstantiated clap trap. Thank you for your comments. Very refreshing.
    Best regards,

  2. In my early days as a presenter I called myself and “Articulate Techno-weenie”. Which was of course an oxymoron.

    Later when I left the engineering world, I referred to myself as a “Recovering Engineer”.

    Both terms got a giggle but everyone understood. My newest term is I am a “Professional Career Changer” as I am on my sixth career. I am still test marketing this phrase!

  3. Mike, dang…did they bill you by the word? What’s most glaring is what’s missing – results. Overall sales performance (“a sales leader who has consistently exceeded 115% of plan”), biz dev (“have penetrated and developed lucrative new accounts generating incremental annual revenue of $20 Million”), etc. I weave these things into 3-4 sentences and include names of sectors in which you’ve worked. It would be much easier if I had your resume to work with (ask Jason if it’s ok for me to call you)

  4. Marc, I liked being the Supreme Galactic Commander of Talent. Ah, the gold old days… BTW, there’s no such thing as a former Marine, Jesuit, Bartender of Engineer.

  5. I think that @Allison makes a good point. It’s one thing to tell us what’s wrong and what not to do. But more helpful if you share examples of good branding.

  6. For some reason I was asked my current TITLE for a badge at an upcoming NETWORKING event for JOB Seekers…so I put, CAREER ACTIVIST. Just wanting to get noticed!!!!!! There are so many of us…..

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