Before I get to it, I should explain why LinkedIn users should avoid certain words. What makes them bad? A lot of things. Some words to avoid are vague or boastful or too quirky to be taken seriously. They detract from you, and on LinkedIn you want to stand out for the right reasons -- your accomplishments.
Take a look at the words that recruiters, hiring managers and job coaches say you should steer clear of on LinkedIn. Of course, you could apply this to resumes, cover letters and every way you present yourself professionally.
Growth Hacker and other cute or too creative job titles.
When it comes to your job title, it's better to not get too creative. Just say it like it is. Writer. Lawyer. Educator. Digital Marketer. Marketing Manager. Business owner. Chief Financial Officer.
"'Growth Hacker' or 'Catalyst' don't really relay what the position or job entails," says Nicole Green, manager of HR & employee engagement at Perfect Search Media in Chicago.
Zachary Weiner, who does all the hiring for his technology marketing agency, Emerging Insider Communications, seconds that growth hacker is a no-go for him, as are: futurist, thought leader, champion and influencer. "It can come off both as amateur and off-putting all at once."
Words you wouldn't use in a job interview or face to face.
Would you call yourself a "visionary" in a job interview? Probably not. I hope not.
Would you claim to be "authentic?" Maybe. It seems to be the word -- or a word -- du jour. What does it even mean? I have sat through presentations where the speaker's big them is to "be authentic." What is that? What are you trying to say? Just tell me. Please.
"If the words you chose are not words you would use face to face in a discussion with someone, don't use them," says Judy Panagakos, career coach with a firm called Early Stage Careers. "No one has ever described himself to me as a "visionary" in person. You would likely laugh if they did."
Strategic and innovative.
Two of my least favorite words on LinkedIn -- or anywhere -- are "strategic" and "innovative." They're lazy. Many people say they're strategic or innovative and leave it at that. What does that mean? What does it look like? Give examples. Spell it out.
Jodi Chavez, group president, Randstad Professionals, an HR consulting and staffing agency, agrees.
"It makes me wonder if the candidate can point to any substantial achievements," Chavez says. "If you identified a need at your company and implemented a new process or brought in a new tool to address it, say so. That demonstrates you're 'innovative,' but also shows a recruiter real insight into how you work, which is more valuable than merely telling them."
Any word you don't own.
You know the words you started using only after hearing them in the endless meetings that Corporate America loves to have? Yeah, they're not for you. Not if you want to stand out and have others remember who you are and what you. Why sounds like everyone else with how you "align" this or that or "deliver" this and that? So boring.
"From synergy to omnichannel, business professionals are always coming up with new buzzwords to use in everyday conversations, on their LinkedIn channels or during new client pitches. Not only are these words overused, they can be quite annoying," says Amanda Vassall, spokesperson for marketing data provider SEMrush, which looked at buzzwords and phrases that people looked up the most online in 2018. The top 15: synergize/synergy, tribe, game changer, silo, snapshot, bandwidth, traction, cutting edge, granular, omnichannel, paradigm shift, ideation, deliverable, digital transformation and touch base.
"While we can't make assumptions on why these word are less than ideal, Google search data often tells the untold story of what consumers are most curious about," Vassall says. "So, while many may use these words regularly, others don't even know what they mean."
Bottom line: Keep it simple. Give examples. Paint a picture. Be confident enough not to use the buzzwords everyone else is using. You're better than that.