You’re Better Than Buzzwords — Start Showing It

January 25, 2017

It's 2017: this could be the year to start something big. If you’ve thought about pursuing a new career direction or a challenge, you’re not alone — this week marks the busiest week of the year (so far) to update your LinkedIn profile and we want to help you start the year off right.

The first place to start is a stand-out LinkedIn profile. But to help you make it truly shine, we took our annual look at the most overused words in profiles around the world and found the top 10 words you should avoid this year:

  1. Specialized

  2. Leadership

  3. Passionate

  4. Strategic

  5. Experienced

  6. Focused

  7. Expert

  8. Certified

  9. Creative

  10. Excellent

Having conducted this analysis for the last six years, it’s interesting to see how buzzwords have evolved over time. Top of the list, and new to the top 10 this year, is the term “Specialized,” knocking “Leadership” out of the top slot from 2016 and falling to second. “Passionate” moves up one place to become the third most overused buzzword worldwide. “Strategic” and “Experienced” complete the top five; the latter a new entry to the top 10.  

If these words do little to communicate why we’re good at our jobs, why is the world using them? We partnered with best-selling biographer Christopher Sandford to look at why people are still using language that makes them blend into the background rather than get noticed. Here’s what he discovered:

  • Ease: Using new language and being creative with the words on our profile can be a daunting prospect and it requires effort. Opting for common buzzwords requires less thought and is often a more convenient approach.
  • Everyone else does: We’ve seen our peers use buzzwords and assume it’s the right thing to do — we think they sound professional without giving much thought to what the word really means.
  • Association: Some of us use buzzwords as a way to illustrate and convey belonging to a certain group, or industry. It helps us to feel part of something and like we fit in.
  • Appearances: Buzzwords are often used to seem knowledgeable when we’re not confident talking about our professional achievements. Writing about ourselves is a challenge and using buzzwords is a way to avoid specifics.

While it may be convenient or seem smart to use buzzwords when talking about ourselves, your professional achievements are better than generic buzzwords.

Here’s how you can help give your accomplishments the recognition they deserve:

If you’ve been thinking about a new start, it’s not too late to make 2017 the year you grab opportunity with both hands. Like most things in life, if you’re willing to put a little time and effort into making simple changes to your profile, you’re going to get a whole lot in return. All you have to do is get started.