Are you guilty of using LinkedIn’s list of overused buzzwords?
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Job Search
Did you see the article this week from LinkedIn where they talked about the most overused buzzwords in members’ profile summaries? (http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2011/12/13/the-most-over-used-business-buzzwords-of-2011/) Their premise is that if you’re trying to sound unique and using the same words as everyone else, then, you’re not so unique. They have a point.
Do people need to revisit their profiles? Yes, they do. Do people need to sound more fascinating? Yes they do. Do people obviously hate talking about themselves? Yes they do – and it shows!
Here are a few of the words LinkedIn considers overused – and here are some ideas of how you could replace them with more interesting content:
Effective: Instead of being effective, say: I get things done. I get things done people think can’t be done. And then give an example of something that was way beyond reach that you accomplished.
Extensive experience: Actually, I like to know if someone has extensive experience in something. The problem lies in the fact that typically people don’t also share where they have moderate experience – so it’s kind of hard to define what extensive experience actually means. If you say “15 years in the technology industry” or “20 years in retail inventory planning and assortment” people will pretty much figure out how extensive your experience is. Just be sure that you don’t create an example that could be questioned or make you sound not up-to-date. For example, let’s say you worked in the PC industry in the early 80s. That would make you one of the few. And while that’s kind of cool, it makes you sound dated. But, if you were always on the cutting edge – and went from PCs in early 80s to digital video compression technologies to Cloud, then that’d tell a better story.
Track Record: I can completely see how this term is overused. Everyone has a track record, don’t they? Even the people who come in last place. It’s recorded somewhere, right? This is where the “how much by when” statements mean so much more than the words “proven track record.” For example, let’s say you’re in sales, and for the last five years, you’ve consistently achieved 200% of your quota. That’s good. That sounds like a track record. But if you tell me you’ve been over 100% (or hanging out at 105%) that doesn’t seem like a stretch.
Organizational: I honestly don’t know what a person could possibly be thinking by putting this in their profile as a standalone word. I’m guessing it probably precedes words like effectiveness or design. But then I got curious and looked it up on LinkedIn and found more than 1 million profiles with the word organizational. So I started going through some profiles and found that, unless you’re in OD, most people who used this word had profiles that were less than exciting. I have no substitute for this word. I recommend removing it (unless you’re in OD)!!
Creative: Yeah, yeah, everybody thinks they’re creative. And actually, most people are. No one person has the lock on creativity, but what might be more interesting is talking about where and how you’re creative. Are you the person who figures out how to solve the big challenges – the bigger the better. Then say that! Are you the marketing person with a talent in taking boring collateral and making it pop? Are you financial person who figures out ways to increase the bottom line without cutting a bunch of people? Sounds like someone I’d like to work with!
But getting rid of buzzwords is only half the battle. Maybe what LinkedIn could do next is analyze the profiles on a scale of how boring they are. It could be called a z-score. The number of z’s in your profile could indicate how absolutely boring, not fun, not fascinating you seem. A score of Zzzzz would be a total snoozer, whereas a Zz might just tip the eyelids a touch.
Perhaps if people focused less on the big words and actually were more dynamic, innovative and creative by being real, authentic and interesting, then LinkedIn would have a more effective organizational track record!