HR News & Trends

Searching LinkedIn Profiles? Here Are the 10 Most Overused Buzzwords

Photo by istockphoto.com

For a guy like me, the six most terrifying words in the English language are, “Could I get your bio, please?

I hate describing myself and what I do. My LinkedIn profile has been reworked several times trying to do just that before I got it to its current, less fluffy stage.

For professionals in the talent business, your social media profiles – and especially your LinkedIn profile – are probably one of the first encounters potential employees have when they are looking at or researching your company.

Most used buzzwords by U.S. professionals

Is it full of clichés and buzzwords, or, does your profile deliver a clear message that won’t sound like every other inane profile out there?

LinkedIn has recently released some data on the most used buzzwords throughout their network, and they create a good template of words to avoid using when describing yourself.

According to the LinkedIn news release, the most used words for U.S.-based professionals are:

  1. Creative;
  2. Organizational;
  3. Effective;
  4. Motivated;
  5. Extensive experience;
  6. Track record;
  7. Innovative;
  8. Responsible;
  9. Analytical;
  10. Problem solving.

Buzzwords a substitute for hard evidence?

Not surprisingly, this year’s list doesn’t differ much from 2011′s list. A casual look at my list of LinkedIn connections (most of whom are HR and recruiting professionals) leads me to believe that while most people don’t abuse these terms, almost everyone drops a few into their profile.

I should also mention that I see these words used extensively in job descriptions. I’ve been as guilty as anybody else when I spent a lot of time retooling job descriptions before I started working a requisition.

The problem with these words isn’t so much that they are used so frequently, but that they are often used as a substitute for hard evidence. We tell job candidates not to tell but to demonstrate why they have these qualities. For instance, instead of saying you’re creative, you need to talk about the creative things you’ve done.

That might be tougher in a world of 140 character Twitter updates, but it might be better to drop the buzzwords (especially the most common ones) altogether if you have no alternative. That being said, on a LinkedIn profile you do have room to expand and demonstrate rather than keep the buzzword-laden bio up because it sounds good.

If you won’t take that advice from me though, maybe you’ll take it from someone with extensive experience and a track record of creativity and innovation instead?

Lance Haun is an editor at The Starr Conspiracy, a marketing agency focused on the enterprise HCM market. He spent three years as an editor at ERE Media and seven years in the recruiting and HR trenches before joining the agency. You can follow him on Twitter, circle him on Google+, check out his blog or contact him directly at lance@coug.rs.