According to career coach Brad Hoover, it’s the word “try.” As in “I’ll try to meet that deadline,” or “I’ll try to figure out that new software.” Hoover says what makes the word “try” so dangerous is that bosses associate it with “failure.” That’s because it sends the message that you lack the commitment or confidence needed to get the job done. In fact, he says if you ever use the word “try” on a résumé or cover letter, it’s almost guaranteed your application will end up in the trash!

One boss we read about says that any time he hears an employee say “I’ll try,” he cringes. Then he always asks: “Please tell me what we need to do to make sure you do the job?” So, what should you say instead of “try”?

  • For job interviews and résumés, employers are looking for people who are savvy and confident. So, instead of saying what you’ll try to accomplish in the new job, give strong examples of things you’ve actually done – like how you led a team of sales reps to your company’s most profitable year. The more clear examples you can give, the more you’ll stand out.

  • Then, when you’re on the job, instead of saying “I’ll try,” the best response for most tasks is “I’m on it,” which inspires confidence! And if the task seems unrealistic, suggest a more feasible goal instead. Like, instead of saying “I’ll try to finish the project by Friday,” say “I have so much on my plate this week, but if you give me until Monday, I’ll definitely have it ready.” Because managers appreciate employees who offer solutions, rather than more problems!