Words have always been my currency -- the means to express myself, persuade an audience, tell a story and get a job. When it comes to LinkedIn, the professional networking site used by half a billion people worldwide, words are everyone's currency.
But there are some words that won't help you strike the notice of a recruiter, score an interview or land a job. Some are professional cliches. You've heard the phrase "dime a dozen?" There's jargon and corporate speak. Then there are words that get you noticed for all the wrong reasons.These are words that make you look bad, and you might not ever know it.
Part of my communications work includes writing, rewriting and editing clients' LinkedIn pages in what I call LinkedIn makeovers. I'm always on the lookout for buzzwords that are career buzz killers. Here are the words that recruiters and I recommend scrubbing from your LinkedIn profiles as soon as possible.
It's my most hated word on all of LinkedIn (and resumes, too). It's lazy, boring and vague. What makes you strategic? Tell a story. Give an example.
Carrie Walecka, director of talent acquisition at Brightcove calls it "overused and not quantifiable.
"On the other hand, I am always encouraged when I see words such as lead, created, drove, defined, and implemented. Those are actionable words, indicating the person was the originator of said action," she adds.
And here's my runner-up in most hated of professional buzzwords. You are special and hardworking. But you are not unique. Your products are great, and your customers might like them a whole lot. But chances are they are not unique.
What makes you different? What makes you a great fit where you are and where you want to go? Again, do some storytelling and don't fall back on this false cliche.
"Why can't we just say goals,?" says Andy Jones, a recruiter with Source One Management Services in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.
Exactly. Or "objectives." Or "results as measured by X."
"My solution? Pick another word," says Jones.
Agreed. Generic corporate lingo. "Products" or "services" work great in place of "solutions."
"The biggest turn-off is if someone says they are `best-of-breed' or something similar in their given profession," says Monica Roy, recruiting manager at a Seattle-based marketing and tech consultancy POP.
She added that even the best folks "still have things to learn," especially given industry changes and new technology.
"The other word I'm not a fan of,'" says Roy. "What does that even mean?" Be specific about how you joined forces or teamed up to produce stellar results or even exceed goals or expectations.
Robust offerings. Robust experience. Robust product line. Robust choices. No, no, no, no. Alternatives: a lot, a wide variety, complete.
8-9. Leverage and utilize
Just say "use." Maybe you used something in a smart way or in a way that your manager, your company or your competitors hadn't thought of. If you use specifics, you'll be better off than if you rely on fluffy words like leverage and utilize.
Bonus: A three-letter word saves you characters. That's important in your LinkedIn summary, which does have a character count limit.
"A person can always learn something new," says Gene Brady, director at Search Consulting Network, which specializes in recruiting in the automotive, industrial and automation sectors. "If you say you're an `expert' in something, it implies you know it all. No one does. Smart people know that."
"As opposed to...not results-driven?," says Brady. "This term isn't really need if you can provide examples of your accomplishments and how you've made an impact."
Yes! Add to this detail-oriented and deadline-driven.
Brady also dislikes "highly" before anything. "It's hyperbole. Unnecessary embellishment."
Right on! (Note to self: I'm going to devote a future column to my dislike of adverbs, supported by Stephen King's quote "I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.")
"Avoid generalities," says Patrice Rice of Patrice & Associates, a hospitality and restaurant recruitment firm. "Recruiters and employers want to see specific results. They prefer to see an example of how you achieved something, such as 'I increased sales by 40 percent' 'I won the top producer award seven times,' or 'I sold to most accounts by a margin of 2:1.'"
Leader is a word that is used more often than it should," says Daniel Solo, founder of Second Line Advisors, an executive search and human capital advisory firm based in Manhattan. "A true leader wouldn't use the term very much, and if they did, they'd quantify what that means in terms of department size or initiatives and influence."
Leave out the fluff and meaningless, overused cliches. Show examples. Share results. Tell the story of your career in a way that makes you stand out from half a billion people.