By Sandy Johnson, Senior Consultant

“I’m a team player.” These are choice words to describe a work style. Candidates want to present as someone who will fit in and be supportive of a larger group, which is why the phrase is so commonly used in interviews. If you are a team player, surely, you will belong.

It is also a favourite descriptor in resume profiles. It’s popular because it seems to strike a chord with employers who wish for an amicable group dynamic. But it has been used so much it’s lost its meaning.

And that is why calling yourself a team player is dangerous. It doesn’t help you stand out. Not only are you grouping yourself in with everyone else, but what constitutes a team player anyway? If you ask five people for a definition of a team player, they’d all have similar answers. “It’s someone who works well with others or collaborates easily” (doesn’t every employer want that?). But if you ask what kind of team player they are, they’d have trouble articulating it.

Think of a sports team. It’s a group of people connected by a common goal, but each member is responsible for filling a specific position. They each have different skills. They’re experts in a certain area, work together and independently, while each has their own job to do. A work team is no different.

When you’re hired by a company, any company, you become a member of the team. What position do you want to play? An employer looks for a candidate who can fill a specific position while contributing to the overall performance of the group. When you can state the position you play best and describe how you can add value, it’ll be a lot easier for your new boss to see how you’ll fit in and know why he or she wants you as his or her first draft pick.

Here’s a list of possible roles. Do you see yourself in any of these spots?

  1. Visionary
  2. Strategist
  3. Executer
  4. Planner
  5. Leader
  6. Delegator
  7. Facilitator
  8. Builder
  9. Doer
  10. Manager

This is in no way an exhaustive list, so if you don’t see your talent here, create your own moniker and know how to describe your special place on the roster. Don’t worry about being on the team. You will be. Instead, make yourself stand out by calling your position.

Sandy Johnson is an ICF certified coach and career strategist at Feldman Daxon. She supports professionals who want to advance their careers in the direction of their choosing.