The Elite Career Blog

Putting the 'I' back in Team

Cassandra Hooimeyer
Cassandra Hooimeyer
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August 31, 2021
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3 minute read

At Elite we are all about highlighting your achievements. But if success isn’t tactically framed embracing the word ‘I’, it can leave crucial questions unanswered.

Have you read a sentence like this in a resume before?

  • We achieved the project KPI's on time and under budget
  • Our department met the target to increase sales
  • We doubled our client feedback scores

These phrases focus on the WHAT but don't clearly address HOW and WHO. Perhaps you may even recall a sentence or two similar to this in your own resume or cover letter?

It can be tempting to use formal, modest phrasing like this in our application documents. The Australian consciousness decries a self-promoter...and if we’re honest, it can feel a little weird to openly claim a role in the success of our team.

It's been drummed into us that there is no ‘I’ in team… so is it any wonder we avoid referring to ourselves whenever we can?

Instead, we write fragmented skills lists and abstracted statistics and we frame accomplishments without saying ‘I’.

We say things like “The team achieved an outcome that was on-time and on-budget” or “All departmental sales goals were exceeded during my tenure.”

Yet not selling our actions in our own job application documents is the written equivalent of not making eye contact in a job interview.

How is your potential employer going to understand the unique value you can add to their company if all they read about is your team's effort?

Write your resume to showcase you

At Elite, we know that it’s not only important to identify the ultimate value of a project or role, but to explain how it was achieved and by whom.  For each success you want to share, ask yourself:

  • What actions were taken?
  • Who performed which tasks?
  • What impact did those actions have?

Your resume is not selling the value of your team, your project or your organisation.

Your resume is a marketing document for recruiters and future employers that highlights and showcases your skills, experience and unique achievements.

If this still feels uncomfortable, remember; the purpose of your resume is not to sell the value of your team, your project or the organisation you work for.

The role of your resume is to sell you as the best fit for the role.

We are responsible for our individual roles in the collaborative success or failure of a project or organisation. It's time for each of us to proudly stand tall and share our part.

When you're part of a team, it’s important to be able to say ‘I can do that’ or ‘Sorry, that’s on me’.

It's equally important to be able to say ‘I did this’ or ‘As a direct result of my work on this team project…’ when you're marketing yourself.

If we need to own our roles and mistakes, then by extension we get to own our part in the wins as well. Not in a way that alienates us from the team, but in a way that recognises the value we bring.

Own and communicate the value your bring with confidence - by using 'I'

If your resume only refers to the teams action, it provides no real insights about you. If your resume uses passive terms and only refers to the teams’ action, it provides no real insights about you as a person or an employee. A hiring manager will be unclear about your willingness and ability to pull your own weight and facilitate success, or if you’re just scooting along on the coattails of the collective.

Reclaiming first-person language such as 'I' in our application documents is a sign of taking responsibility for our contributions to the team – both the failures and the wins. We’re allowed to be a bit more conversational and direct. To make eye contact.

So next time you go to write that cover letter or update that resume, try using one of our three power phrases to bring the 'I' back into team.

“I used my skills in ___ and ___ to facilitate ____ and achieve ___. This enabled this team ___ and ____ effectively.”

“By ____ and ___, I facilitated the achievement of ___.”

“My highly developed ____ skills allow me to ____ and ___. This benefits __X__ and has been critical in the success of __Y__.”

If you have recognised yourself in this article but feel unsure about breaking the habit of not using 'I', The Elite Collective can help you nail that resume and develop competitive supporting documentation.

Or if you prefer DIY options, we have solutions that can help you write from the comfort of your own home! 


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