Don’t Deal- Do!


As an employer, I have often been mystified by the sheer variation in quality of the resumes that I receive when I accept applications. A few people submit a polished, well presented application/resume, and I feel that it does a good job of effectively allowing them to present themselves to me. Far more, however, submit resumes that have obviously been done quickly, without attention to detail or standardization.

One major annoyance of mine is when I read that someone has “dealt” with something. I’ve always wondered what it means to have “dealt” with something (or someone). The phrase “dealt with customers” appears quite regularly on resumes, and I’m even willing to bet that it’s probably on yours. If it is, take it off, now, as it literally has no real meaning.

“Dealing” With Customers

When I am hiring someone for a position that will have any amount of interaction with my customers, I am looking for resourceful, well-versed staff that are capable of clearly communicating and portraying themselves in a positive manner. These kind of people are the type of people that are able to take control of sales situations, empower and promote open communication and conversation, and display confidence and assertion when interacting with my clients.

At no point do these people “deal” with my customers.

My customers are quite valuable to me, and the last thing that I want to hear as a prospective employer is that you “dealt” with customers at your previous job. Let’s face the reality: if customer service is such an imposition to you that you are unable to describe your interaction between yourself and your former customers, regardless of how you “dealt” with them, you are the absolute last person that I want to represent my company in any way.

Delivering the Same Message

That last segment may have sounded hostile, and that’s a good thing. You need to understand that customers/clients are the lifeblood of any business, and it is your job to serve their needs in a way that is beneficial to both the customer and the company. Perhaps you really enjoy customer service and just felt that stating that you “dealt” with customers was a good way to sum up your previous responsibilities – there’s no harm in good intentions, but there is in bad delivery.

Instead of saying that you “dealt” with customers, try using something similar to one the phrases below:

“Listened and responded to customer requests and complaints.”

“Received and processed verbal orders from customers, both in person and over the phone.”

“Delivered exceptional customer service.”

The message is delivered in a way that is both correct and aesthetically pleasing, making everyone happy.

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11 thoughts on “Don’t Deal- Do!

  1. My first impression is “dealing” with customers comes off as something negative. Particularly as something you dont want to do. Obviously it doesnt show much motivation or interest in a job. If you dont like “dealing” with them, why even put that on your resume if you dont want that to be encompassed in what you do

    1. Exactly. Why would I hire an employee who makes it sound as if it’s pulling teeth to take care of my customers?

      1. Its interesting reading this as I have always “dealt” with supplier’s which seems to be acceptable terminology, its funny reading about the flip side, i.e. serving customers.

  2. The difference is terminology. Some people use the term “dealt” in the place of the word “interact” which is a fairly recent “computer age” term. A human resource person ought to be knowledgable enough to understand there is difference in terms used on resumes based on regionality, nationality, and age of the applicant. The most effective human resource manager will use KEY WORD SEARCH, and remember the reason for their job is to make sure the best person possible is hired for a particular position; and not just someone who is an ENGLISH MAJOR or LANGUAGE EXPERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Maybe this is the reason many highly qualified persons never get into a face-to-face interview—-the terminology of a resume is more important than the actual person.

  3. As much as it may sound very vague to use the word “dealt” this article gives me the vibe that you just pulled something out of your hat to criticize people in order to make an article out of it.
    I’ve been customer service and sales positions at many varying levels – whether it’s towards the end user or towards a corporate customer. And often times, when I am “dealing” with the typical ignorant end user, the word “dealt” is more accurate as a matter of fact. A large part of customer service is to deflect the ignorance of the general public and to convince them of your own ideas to make them understand and make the purchase.
    Maybe this is an arrogant trait I have, which most others do not have, while they treat their clients as equally intelligent beings, but the middle paragraph of this article sounds like crap to me.
    Maybe it’s because I “Dealt” with clients that I am now in a position where I receive high-end corporate marketing contracts instead of “dealing” with the idiotic end users who can only complain while they assume that the measly little sums they cough up in bills should be sufficient to cover a 5 star service.
    Good luck writing blog articles on a website that was bought out by somebody who “dealt” with clients from the previous owner who “dealt” with some idiotic visitors.
    You are either so aloof in your own world in terms of what customer service is, or you have no idea what it is like and you are throwing around vague terminology to sound intelligent. Either that or you’re one of those wannabe smart-asses who try to point a small negative out and exaggerate it into a huge negative to write something that everybody would go “oooooooh” about but I’m too well read and educated to fall for it.

    1. I disagree.
      Your “education” and worldliness is leaving you looking at the employment standard with a rather myopic view.
      I wonder what it is to actually “deal” with a customer. Tell me a concrete definition, please? Because I have to deal with traffic, stress, family problems, financial worries, and my own personal ineptitude’s from time to time… why would I want to translate that to someone who could potentially give me a job or not?
      Your reply is little more than an attack on semantics, and I hardly see any education in that. Rather than split hairs, why not approach me with an argument that discounts the validity of what I’m saying, as opposed to attacking my personal character or objectives? Chances are that you’re someone who “deals” with your customers, and I bet that is also your main limitation.
      You seem to have forgotten that the customers who cough up those “measly little sums” are also a multi-billion dollar market, and yes, you provide the best service that you can. That’s good business. I’m surprised that you’ve survived in business at all with such low regard for your customers.
      So, with that in mind, I believe that your “education” and the amount of materials that you’ve read have resulted in nothing but a poor attitude and an even poorer amount of business sense. In either case, good luck to you- I know you’ll be back here again.

  4. I guess when people get picky about word semantics, the answer is not to presume we know what we are talking about and secondly to not presume that everyone else also knows what we are talking about.
    So, in the case of this article when “deal with the customer” is referred to it would have been helpful for the author to state their meaning of the word / phrase. Because I disagree with the author’s usage but agree with the intent I head to the dictionary. In this case shows that deal has any number of meanings.
    The relevant ones are the transitive and intransitive verb definitions of which some are: To administer; deliver
    So we could have one ‘administer’ a customer as a meaning for deal.
    v.intr. To be occupied or concerned
    So we could have one being ‘concerned’ with a customer when we deal with a customer.
    Jeff Kee is right in his approach that you appear to be picking holes for the sake of it but he is wrong in attacking you personally. And I believe, like you, he is wrong with his dismissal of the ‘little’ customer.

    1. The only thing that is readily expressed here is the need for a greater amount of communication on behalf of the applicant. For someone to say that they’ve “dealt” with customers isn’t really saying anything at all, even if they meant that they took care of customer service inquiries or handled telephone sales conversations- the employer won’t know, as the applicant didn’t tell.
      So no, don’t “deal”- do. Specify, explain, and express the information that will give a prospective employer a better understanding about what you’re about.

  5. OK – I’ll give you that “dealing with a customer” doesn’t necessarily give the info one requires for determining what *you* want to know.
    However, the terminology is still correct as far as the dictionary is concerned – and as I said in my above post surely this should be the final arbiter in the use and meaning of the word and not what you may or may not expect me to mean?
    Are you seriously implying that you would discount me if I applied for a job and used the word deal in your context? Especially if I hit all the other right buttons for you?
    Ah well – prejudice is alive and well in those that hire still. I on the other hand when hiring take the time to read everything written from everyone and try to work out the real meaning behind their statements.

    1. Would I prejudice someone who’s resume said “deal” in it? No, so long as they had other points that adequately expressed the qualities that I was looking for.
      What prompted this article was the myriad of resumes that I received from people that had “deal” or “dealt” in every line:
      + Dealt with customers.
      + Dealt with back end services staff.
      + Dealt with upper-management.
      + Dealt with extreme situations and stressful environments.
      I mean, really, is there not a better way to express what you’re trying to say? All I feel is a little bit unsure about what you’re trying to tell me.
      Your definition in the dictionary is entirely correct, and I agree with what you’re saying in that regard. I simply would like to see more expression of qualities and relevant points.
      (Comments wont nest below this level)

      Comment by Stuart

      2007-08-22 17:23:05

      OK – I can’t argue with that.
      In hindsight, maybe the “dealt” lines in your comment should have been in your original post to make the point more acutely.
      And I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know the word is nowehere withing my resume and I deal with customers all day long


      Comment by Cameron Martel |

      2007-08-23 14:58:49

      LOL I agree- I should have taken a bit more time to explain the message I was trying to get across.
      And your resume sounds stellar


  6. Good tip. While I think that those that have disagreed with the post have a point, I agree that Cameron’s suggestion is more proper and detailed. It shows that the applicant has put more thought into what they actually did, conveys their role better, and stresses the importance of customer interaction.

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