Top 10 Overused Words in LinkedIn Profiles and Resumes

“Top 10” lists are a popular topic for many content authors, both online and offline. Taken with the proverbial grain of salt, they can provide useful insights. What’s the grain of salt? Such lists can sometimes be just glib recitations that don’t do more than state what should be obvious or that make claims not backed by solid research. That said, I usually pay attention to such lists when they apply to areas such as career management, job search techniques and interview preparation, since those are areas in which I provide services to my clients.

Top 10 overused buzzwords in LinkedIn profiles versus in resumes

In 2011 the list of top 10 overused buzzwords in US resumes contained 6 of the same terms as the list in 2010 for LinkedIn profiles:

  • extensive experience
  • innovative
  • problem solving/problem solver
  • track record/proven track record
  • dynamic
  • motivated

The non-duplicated terms for 2011 resumes were results-oriented, team player, fast-paced, entrepreneurial; those for 2010 LinkedIn profiles were creative, organizational, effective, communication skills.

Are we using these overused terms in resumes or LinkedIn profiles?

Have you ever been guilty of using these terms, either because you didn’t know any better or because you were just a bit lazy or rushed? Probably at least some of the time; I know I have. However, I’m making a greater effort these days to seek out stronger, fresher and more meaningful terms to use in presenting my clients’ value message, whether in their professional resumes or in the LinkedIn profiles I create for them (which is something I love to do). I encourage you to do the same, if you’re creating your own career marketing documents. You really don’t want to sound like everyone else on the planet who might be looking for a new job or trying to make a career change! If your information sounds like a “me, too” message, it’s likely to put prospective employers to sleep while reading it, and that’s definitely not a good thing.

What’s the alternative–good terms to use in your resume or LinkedIn profile?

In my opinion, whether an “overused” term is still valid or not depends, at least in part, on the context in which the words are used. For example, presenting someone as a team player who is excellent at persuading people with conflicting agendas to work collaboratively is a much stronger concept (and less often seen) than just saying he or she is a “team player.” Basically, if there’s an alternative for any of the too-common words that achieves the desired effect, I do try to use it–unless the substitute is also overused! After all, the more people who accept and begin using a particular term, the more popular it tends to become and the greater the risk it will become visually boring. That’s why phrases like “thinking outside the box” and “at the end of the day” have become trite instead of eye-catching and thought-provoking.

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