Stop Using These 10 Buzzwords on LinkedIn

How many job leads has your LinkedIn profile netted you lately? If the answer is “zero,” the problem might be that your profile doesn’t stand out from the competition. Job seekers tend to choose the same buzzwords to describe themselves and their skills. From a recruiter’s perspective, if everyone is “passionate” and “focused,” no one is.

For the past six years, LinkedIn has released an annual list of the most overused words in profiles created by its global user base. These are this year’s batch:

  1. Specialized
  2. Leadership
  3. Passionate
  4. Strategic
  5. Experienced
  6. Focused
  7. Expert
  8. Certified
  9. Creative
  10. Excellent

What to Say Instead

Image Credit: A Name Like Shields…/Flickr

If you winced in recognition while reading some of these, don’t beat yourself up. Biographer Christopher Sanford tells LinkedIn that job seekers use these buzzwords because they want to seem knowledgeable – which is the right aim, even if it’s the wrong approach. (A few other reasons, according to Sanford: ease, fitting in with the industry, and “everyone else does.”)

To make a better impression on recruiters and hiring managers, ditch the overused words and try this instead:

1. Focus on your “customer.”

What does a hiring manager want to see? Most likely, that you can solve the employer’s problems (generate revenue, solve a branding crisis, grow business, etc.). Highlight your achievements. Quantify them whenever possible.

2. Tell a story.

LinkedIn is more than a static resume. Use your profile to tell the story of your career.

At Inc, frequent South by Southwest speaker and author Sam Ford offers a few tips on storytelling on LinkedIn:

“The ideal profile begins with an overall summary or narrative written in the first person and provides an overview of your career and points of passion and focus. That, in turn, sets up the overall narrative the rest of the profile can flesh out. I liken it to the first time you meet someone. Do you talk all about yourself or engage that person in a conversation? Use that same strategy when creating your LinkedIn profile.”

3. Ditch the third person.

LinkedIn’s tips include “be direct,” and that means speaking in the first person. If you wrote your first resume in pre-social media era, this will feel especially odd — as if you were texting the hiring manager a string of emojis instead of sending a thank-you note. But your LinkedIn profile is a great place not just to show your achievements, but to let your personality shine through (within reason, of course).

Remember: you’re trying to stand out, not blend in. Choose words that show how unique you are, and that tell your story, and get the hiring manager’s attention.

Tell Us What You Think

What other buzzwords would you retire from LinkedIn profiles and resumes? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.