Are Your Buzzwords a Buzzkill?: 3 Tips to Get Noticed

December 4, 2012

In the face of the down economy the strategic, disruptive approach is to identify influencers with extensive experience in creating problem—solving results.

Yep, that’s a real life sentence, found in a real life publication. But what exactly does it say? In a word that actually means something: nothing. At a time when there is more content out there than you could ever possibly hope to read, quality—and not quantity—has become the absolute standard for standing out and getting noticed.

Back when I started working with LinkedIn, we released our very first ranking of the most overused profile buzzwords. I remember thinking how important it was to steer clear of “extensive experience” (the number one overused term in 2010) if you wanted to shine among the 85 million professionals who were touting their years in the trenches as their defining characteristic.

Well, it’s three years later and with over 100 million MORE professionals on LinkedIn, the stakes to stand out from this year’s very “creative” (this year's most oft used adjective) crowd are even higher.  Here are a few tips for saying what you mean with words that will get you noticed.

Consider the Opposite: You wouldn’t mention how disorganized or irresponsible you are, and their antonyms (organized, trustworthy, etc) are wasted words too. Why you ask? Because these are the traits that an employer, client or co-worker expects you to have. Even if you scramble to find your shoes hiding under your bed each morning or frequently find yourself uttering the words “I’m going to be a few minutes late,” the expectation by all 85 of the Fortune 100 companies looking for talent on LinkedIn is that you can and more importantly will pull it together for the office.

Show, Don’t Tell: Rather than telling everyone who is willing to listen just how creative and effective you are, demonstrate it by using hard data. Integrate numbers to quantify your effectiveness and/or links in your profile to illustrate your creative talents. This is especially important on LinkedIn where you are 12 times more likely to have your profile viewed if you include more than one position. Yes, you were creative and effective in every job and volunteer position you’ve been in, but if you want to get the credit you deserve you need to get specific when giving a rundown of your work experience.

Consult the Experts: Looking for synonyms to replace the “analytical,” “motivated,” and “innovative” words that litter your profile? Check out the largest professional thesaurus on the planet. Get yourself in touch with the movers and shakers in your industry via LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Today and see what new words are on the rise. You also should follow companies that you’re interested in working with (or competing against). What terms are they using to describe the types of candidates they’re looking for? What skills do their top executives have listed in their profiles? If you’re nervous about coming up with fresh ways to describe the work you do, don’t sweat it. There are plenty of stellar profiles on LinkedIn that you can look to for inspiration. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get creative, but you do need to be running out in front of it.

Check out the full 2012 list of overused buzzwords here.