January 21, 2011
The top 10 words to banish from your LinkedIn profile
On NWjobs, we give a lot of advice on how to get the most from LinkedIn (examples here, here, here, here, and here). But I don't think we've addressed in how to improve the written content on your LinkedIn profile and make it more specific.
In case you missed it, last month LinkedIn released its list of top 10 overused words and phrases on the site's 85-million-plus profiles. The offenders:
- Extensive experience
- Proven track record
- Team player
- Problem solver
As workplace expert and LinkedIn spokesperson Lindsey Pollak put it, "Phrases like 'extensive experience' and 'proven track record' can appear empty to a potential employer and may do more harm than good when you include them in your profile or resume. If you're using any of these 10 terms, wipe them out."
So what should you say instead?
"[N]ote that you have eight to 10 years of experience or that you increased sales by 300 percent," Pollak advises. "Include meaningful phrases that apply specifically to highlights you've achieved in your career."
The same suggestions apply to your resume and cover letter of course. The job search blog Career Rocketeer suggests banishing these meaningless terms from your resume:
- Excellent communications skills
- Attention to detail
- Works well independently
As a commenter on Career Rocketeer points out, it's to the resume writer's advantage to parrot keywords from a job listing they're interested in. But that don't take that as license to simply regurgitate throwaway words.
When showing potential employers you have the goods they're looking for, speak their language on your resume and talk specifics. If the listing calls for someone with five years' experience working with content management tools, be sure you get the phrase "content management tool" in there (that is, if you have such experience). If they want an editor who has a proven track record negotiating design changes with graphics departments and web teams, make sure you tell them you have seven years' experience negotiating design changes with the web teams at your last two jobs. You get the idea.
How about you? If you regularly review resumes and LinkedIn profiles on the job, what's your take? What words and phrases would you like to see banished from the job-hunting lexicon?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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