I helped the company to…

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Oct 19

My wife had the opportunity to interview a person for a position in her company and she told me this wonderful turn of phrase used by the person in the interview:

“I helped the company to …” and then the person described what had been done for the work.

Now, this person was an employee of the company in question. Not a contractor. Not a consultant. No, an employee.

If you think about it, being serious about your personal brand, your focus too would be on the skills you bring to a position that would help a department or company meet their goals.

Note how this positions the person and their work:

  • The company did not drive this person’s work; instead this person helped — implied: was asked — to come in and work on this thing that was not working.
  • The company couldn’t figure out how to do the stuff in question — so they turned to this person for help. Just think of a billion dollar company asking a Cubicle Warrior for help and there you go.
  • Most importantly, this person realized that there were skills that were needed in the marketplace and it wasn’t about the company; instead, it was about the skills that a company could use to get something done.

The next time you’re asked what you’ve been working on, instead of saying that you were given this important whiz bang project that needed a bunch of work to be completed, change your answer.

Instead, say that your company needed some help in your (personal brand skill set) area and you were able to help them reach X, Y, and Z objectives.

The difference between being assigned work and being asked to help a company achieve their objectives is subtle.

And not subtle at all. I’d rather be the Cubicle Warrior that placed the billion dollar company into its rightful position: where I could help them out.

Wouldn’t you?

  • Wife says:

    Ironically, the position we were interviewing for was a contract job! And the poor young woman got 1099’d a few weeks ago due to budget cuts.

    As a small aside, Warriors, I like to help Scot with ideas and insights when I’m feeling snarky, and today is one of those days.

    If you’re feeling like a Cubicle Warrior, you may want to buy the proper gear.

  • Scot Herrick says:

    The interesting thing about the interview was that what remained after all of the interviews with other candidates was this one line about this person helping a company.

    Yes, the skills were remembered, but the skills were equal to — but not necessarily better than — anyone else’s. So it was this subtle phrasing that really showed a great attitude in approaching the work that was left standing.

  • Great listening skills (by your wife)also comes to mind when I read this. Many interviewers would have missed that!

    It is very similar to the elevator speech. The vast majority of individuals, in answer to the question ‘what do you do?’ just say ‘I work in IT’ (or wherever they work)rather than ‘I help the company’s income by supplying new products, systems….’


  • Very strong post, Scot. It is subtle, but it re-frames the entire vibe of the interaction.

    It shows that the cubicle warrior was in control and sought after rather than having work delegated to and told what to do.

    I just took a business communications course and part of what we learned is that language is a huge part of perception.

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