We all need to be more creative in choosing the words we use on LinkedIn to describe ourselves and our successes. Otherwise our innovative approaches and problem solving solutions will blend in – or feel trite and overused.
Drat. Strike that. I shouldn’t use the terms “creative” or “innovative” or “problem solving” since they show up on LinkedIn’s new list of most overused words on millions of its U.S. profiles. In fact, creative is the most overused catchword in the United States and around the globe, where 135 million people and organizations have LinkedIn profiles. (Full disclosure: It’s also one of my favorites approaches and descriptors and it shows up five times on my LinkedIn profile.)
Since I’m a news hound, let’s provide the 2011 list of top buzzword on U.S. profiles:
- extensive experience
- track record
- problem solving
- communication skills
The earlier list from 2010, which you can see on the LinkedIn blog, includes many of the same words – especially innovative, motivated and proven track record.
“Buzzwords are words we’re lazy with. They’re filler words… the wah-wah words; people just skim over them,” said Nichole Williams, LinkedIn’s connection director and author of three career books. Her profile is not immune – she uses dynamic, though only once in her profile. ”In this kind of competitive marketplace, you have so many people applying for a job. You need to differentiate yourself….You’ve got to stand out from the crowd.”
If you’re really creative (and I think I am), we have results that scream or tap dance or whisper seductively ‘this is so spectacular.’ So hyperlink to samples of your work. Or give specific examples of it. Show the results, don’t say the word.
Think about the word you’re using “in reverse,” she suggested. “You’d never write unmotivated” on your resume or profile. Every person is expected to be motivated. Come up with something more definitive, more action oriented. A journalist (like me) could say “I beat deadlines.” Williams and I came up with other great substitutions, some of which will show up in my profile before yearend.
So Set aside 90 minutes on two or three different days to revise and reinvent your LinkedIn profile. When you pull up your profile or your resume, unleash your inner editor and get ah inventive. Think of a short descriptive phrase that captures you and your essence.Pull out the thesaurus. Try creating a six-word autobiography – or see the most compelling career summaries collected in a book called 6 Words About Work by Mercer and Smith magazine.
Kick out those overused words and invite in something fresh, enthralling, delectable.
“Instead of using adjectives to describe yourself, you want to illustrate it,” said Donna Schilder, a career and leadership coach who offers a LinkedIn video seminar series and blog. If you want to show you’re a team player, talk about the times you’ve led the team or supported the team. Use the word “we” which indicates your collaborative nature. Schilder also suggests adding numbers to show the scale and measure the impact. If you don’t have specifics, estimate the change you helped to produce.
Consider the impact too you’re going to have when your descriptions and detail grab a future employer by the heartstrings or the lapels. You’re memorable and remarkable – and you’re hired.
When Williams. was looking for an office assistant, she chose someone whose resume highlighted her “enormous capacity for work.” “That’s why I hired her,” said Williams. “Don’t be afraid to describe yourself in terms that will catch someone’s attention.”