LinkedIn has released its annual report on the Top 10 Overused LinkedIn Profile Buzzwords of 2013. This year they analyzed only English-language profiles. As you read this year’s list, consider for each term whether it’s one you should avoid due to overuse, or whether it’s simply an essential word to have in your profile. As I look through the buzzwords, I find I have a different opinion on each one. Here’s the list:
Responsible is a word I have banished from resumes and LinkedIn profiles for years now. I think it must have risen to the top as other overused buzzwords such as “extensive experience,” “results-oriented,” “proven track record” and “team player” have been shaved off most people’s profiles. Avoid using “responsible” in your profile – it doesn’t tell anyone about what you actually did! I’m hoping that the appearance of “Responsible” on LinkedIn’s list will shrink its appearance on resumes.
I’m frankly shocked that strategic just appeared on the top 10 list for the first time this year. I believe its emergence as #2 is a testament to the importance of the word. When your job includes strategic planning you must use this word, since it is central to your business role. If you claim you are a strategic thinker, however, be sure to include examples of that thinking and the results it has produced.
Creative ranked #1 last year and is #3 now. I don’t love this word and rarely use it. “Creative” describes people more than accomplishments and is better left for other people to say about you. Anyone can say they’re creative but the challenge is to prove it. Instead of relying on this buzzword, attach photos and PowerPoints showing your work; provide links to your writing; and describe the ways in which you’ve done things that other people have not.
Effective, which moved from #3 to #4 this year, is a throw-away word in my opinion, often easily avoided by reporting actual results. If you got your intended results, your strategy was effective.
Patient? I’m not sure why this word is suddenly on the top 10 list. I’d say scrap it. Patient is a trait you need to demonstrate, not claim on a piece of paper.
Everyone’s claiming to be an expert these days. If you can truly demonstrate expertise in a particular area, I think it’s okay to use the word (of course this is coming from a woman who calls her company The Essay Expert!) I believe some people might search for terms like “E-Learning Expert” or “Turnaround Expert” ; if they do, you want to have the word “Expert” in your headline and job titles. My caveat would be not to claim you are an expert if you’re really not. Be honest or someone could easily call your bluff.
Organizational first appeared on the buzzword list as #2 in 2011 and kept its ranking in 2012; it has slipped to #7 but is still on the list and I can understand why. Most LinkedIn members are mid- to upper-level managers and executives, for whom organizational goals are extremely important. I think this buzzword is here to stay, at least for a while, and I see no problem with using it.
Driven has started to replace “Results-oriented” as a favorite descriptive word. Take note of its overuse and see if you can provide examples that show your drive instead of calling yourself “driven.” If you would use this word as one of the top three adjectives to describe yourself, you might choose to keep it in your profile. But know that it will be taken with a grain of salt.
Innovative is a persistent one. It was #2 on the list in 2010, #7 in both 2011 and 2012. Honestly this word is a hard one to eliminate if you are in any sort of product marketing or management role. It’s better than “original” or “creative” in my opinion. If you need to use it, use it. But make sure to explain *what* was innovative about your ideas. Don’t just say “innovative” and think that explains something.
Finally, analytical is a word that you might need to use if you’re in marketing, finance, or any profession for which analysis is critical. Only claim to be analytical if analyzing things makes your heart sing and is central to the work you do.
For the first time this year, I have a vision of a world where the top 10 buzzwords on LinkedIn are not “overused,” but instead rank as the important words in business for the year. Let’s cut away the fluff and drill down to the essentials. Anyone with me?