Even the most descriptive and meaningful words lose all meaning when they're used too often. Clichés, hyperbole, and buzzwords may at first sound impressive, but over time, since everyone uses them, they mean nothing.
For example, see the word authentic and you probably don't think about something like Brené Brown's definition of authentic: "The core of authenticity is the courage to be imperfect, vulnerable, and to set boundaries."
Nope. Instead your eyes skim right over it, especially since you've seen the word used countless times to describe (and even more often, self-describe) leaders. Owing only to overuse, authentic has lost most of its meaning.
And that's why today is a great day to improve your CV, your résumé, your marketing materials, your social profiles ...
Here are LinkedIn's top 10 global buzzwords, plus my thoughts on each. If you're using any, consider making changes that make a better impact on your audience:
Everyone leads in some way, whether formally or informally. That's why calling yourself a leader, or saying you have "extensive leadership experience" (more on that in a moment) is far less effective than describing the great things you've accomplished through the efforts of other people.
If you must use leader or leadership, go ahead, but don't use adjectives or adverbs in support: Use facts, figures, and results instead.
After all, what you've accomplished, and how, is the best indication of how you lead.
Check out Chris Rock's response (NFSW) to people who say they take care of their kids. Then substitute a word like motivated.
Never take credit for things you are supposed to do--or supposed to be.
In past years, creative has been the most used word in LinkedIn profiles; in other years, it's always in the top five.
Creative is a prime example of a word used so often that it no longer makes an impact. If you're creative, describe what you've created--if it's cool enough, everyone will know just how creative you really are.
Quick example: I just checked out Richard Branson's LinkedIn profile and creative is nowhere to be found. So, yeah.
Claim you're incredibly passionate about incorporating an elegant design aesthetic in everyday objects and--to me at least--you sound a little over the top.
Same if you're passionate about minimizing WIP. Or maximizing ROVA.
So why do so many people use passionate? My guess is they think, "OK, how can I set myself apart ... how can I show that I'm way more into (this) than anyone else ... what's the one word that will put me over the top? I know: passionate!"
And then they've actually gone over the top.
Use focus, concentrate, or specialize instead. Or better yet, share results that show just how consumed you are by what you do.
A strategic decision is one that is based on the big picture--but shouldn't everyone be able to make decisions based on more than what is right in front of them?
Strategic is a close cousin of strategist, another buzzword that bugs me. I sometimes help manufacturing plants improve their productivity and quality. There are strategies I use to identify areas for improvement, but I'm in no way a strategist. Strategists look at the present, envision something new, and develop approaches to make their vision a reality. I don't create something new; I apply my experience and a few proven methodologies to make improvements.
Very few people are actually strategists. Most "strategists" are actually coaches, specialists, or consultants who use what they know to help others. Ninety-nine percent of the time, that's what customers need--they don't want, or even need, a strategist.
Since we all should define success differently, successful is definitely a filler word. (Plus, who would ever say they were unsuccessful?)
Prove your success. What has more impact? "Successful architect" or "Architect who designed the Chrysler Building"?
Maybe you're driven by data. (Gee, you try to objectively think through decisions?) Or maybe you're customer driven. (Gee, you try to please the people that pay you?)
Or maybe you're just plain old driven driven.
No matter what the form, driven is like motivated. Or inspired. It's filler.
Be driven to stop using driven.
While I understand how this word made the list (tons of people work for an organization), you would think that words like business and company would also make the list.
Maybe organization appears because of its link to organizational, like organizational development, organizational optimization, organizational behavior, organizational values, organizational communication ...
Yeah, let's stop there before we both nod off.
Of course, you can be dedicated to something, but isn't everyone, hopefully, dedicated to what he or she does?
If you're in social media marketing, don't say you're "dedicated to optimizing social campaigns"; say you grew conversions by 40 percent using social channels. "Dedicated" is a great example of passive language begging to be more active.
Don't tell us what you're dedicated to. Tell us what you've done. Achievements are always more impressive.
10. Extensive experience
Let's imagine you have "extensive experience in web design." Fine, but how long you've been doing it indicates nothing, since you could be the worst programmer in the world.
What matters a lot more is what you've done: how many sites you've created, how many back-end systems you've installed, how many customer-specific applications you've developed (and what kind) ...
Don't tell us how long you've been doing it. Tell us what you've done. Time is never a proxy for expertise. Expertise is the best indication of expertise.