LinkedIn Releases Most Overused Profile Buzzwords

Business-centered networking platform LinkedIn has released its sixth consecutive ranking of the most overused profile buzzwords from users across the globe over the past 12 months. In a blog post published on January 25, the company unveiled the list in order of usage frequency:

  1. Specialized
  2. Leadership
  3. Passionate
  4. Strategic
  5. Experienced
  6. Focused
  7. Expert
  8. Certified
  9. Creative
  10. Excellent

“Specialized” is brand-new to the list this year, bumping “Leadership,” formerly number one, to the number two spot. Meanwhile, “passionate” moved up from fourth in 2016 to third, while “experienced,” which completes the top five, is a new contender.

The list was released as LinkedIn, acquired by Microsoft in 2016 for $26.2 billion, marks the fourth week of January as the busiest week of the year so far for profile updates. In the official blog post listing the buzzwords, Blair Decembrele, senior manager of member marketing & communications for LinkedIn and a LinkedIn career expert, asks hypothetically, “If these words do little to communicate why we’re good at our jobs, why is the world using them?”

To answer that question, acclaimed biographer Christopher Sandford partnered with LinkedIn to analyze the reasons why people employ words that homogenize, rather than differentiate, their presences on a social media platform with more than 450 million members. He explains that buzzwords are easier to use than exerting the effort to come up with new, creative ones, and they tend to be used by many people, which encourages others to keep using them. He also cites the desire to keep up appearances.

“Buzzwords are often used to seem knowledgeable when we’re not confident talking about our professional achievements,” writes Decembrele, in reference to Sandford’s findings. “Writing about ourselves is a challenge, and using buzzwords is a way to avoid specifics.”

Sandford and Decembrele offer several tips for freshening up a LinkedIn profile, including making a strong first impression with a creative profile summary, which is one of the first things visitors will see. According to LinkedIn research, users have just five to 10 seconds to impress a potential employer with their profile. Consider sentences of varying length and even creative storytelling while always keeping the target audience in mind. Also avoid the third person, which is “impersonal,” says Sandford. While the tone should stay professional, it should be written in the first person with clarity and assertiveness.

Within the “Work Experience” section, listing all relevant positions provides a well-rounded illustration of the person that’s more impressive to potential employers than an incomplete profile.

Finally, users should demonstrate their expertise by not just listing it, but also offering an illustration of it. For instance, instead of using the word “strategic” (fourth on the list of most-overused words), users should consider uploading a Slideshare presentation that clearly demonstrates creative strategy. “While it may be convenient or seem smart to use buzzwords when talking about ourselves,” writes Decembrele, “your professional achievements are better than generic buzzwords.”

Check out this recent example of a robust LinkedIn profile page, published by Counselor.