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Stop Using These 10 Buzzwords on LinkedIn

Topics: Career Advice

How many job leads has your LinkedIn profile netted you lately? If the answer is “zero,” the problem might be that your profile doesn’t stand out from the competition. Job seekers tend to choose the same buzzwords to describe themselves and their skills. From a recruiter’s perspective, if everyone is “passionate” and “focused,” no one is.

For the past six years, LinkedIn has released an annual list of the most overused words in profiles created by its global user base. These are this year’s batch:

  1. Specialized
  2. Leadership
  3. Passionate
  4. Strategic
  5. Experienced
  6. Focused
  7. Expert
  8. Certified
  9. Creative
  10. Excellent

What to Say Instead

Image Credit: A Name Like Shields…/Flickr

If you winced in recognition while reading some of these, don’t beat yourself up. Biographer Christopher Sanford tells LinkedIn that job seekers use these buzzwords because they want to seem knowledgeable – which is the right aim, even if it’s the wrong approach. (A few other reasons, according to Sanford: ease, fitting in with the industry, and “everyone else does.”)

To make a better impression on recruiters and hiring managers, ditch the overused words and try this instead:

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1. Focus on your “customer.”

What does a hiring manager want to see? Most likely, that you can solve the employer’s problems (generate revenue, solve a branding crisis, grow business, etc.). Highlight your achievements. Quantify them whenever possible.

2. Tell a story.

LinkedIn is more than a static resume. Use your profile to tell the story of your career.

At Inc, frequent South by Southwest speaker and author Sam Ford offers a few tips on storytelling on LinkedIn:

“The ideal profile begins with an overall summary or narrative written in the first person and provides an overview of your career and points of passion and focus. That, in turn, sets up the overall narrative the rest of the profile can flesh out. I liken it to the first time you meet someone. Do you talk all about yourself or engage that person in a conversation? Use that same strategy when creating your LinkedIn profile.”

3. Ditch the third person.

LinkedIn’s tips include “be direct,” and that means speaking in the first person. If you wrote your first resume in pre-social media era, this will feel especially odd — as if you were texting the hiring manager a string of emojis instead of sending a thank-you note. But your LinkedIn profile is a great place not just to show your achievements, but to let your personality shine through (within reason, of course).

Remember: you’re trying to stand out, not blend in. Choose words that show how unique you are, and that tell your story, and get the hiring manager’s attention.

Tell Us What You Think

What other buzzwords would you retire from LinkedIn profiles and resumes? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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Patty L.
Patty L.

While I agree with some of these, I fail to see why “experienced” and “certified” would be considered buzz words. If you’re certified, you’re certified. Often times, that is a requirement for an employer and there’s nothing wrong with stating that. If the potential employer is looking for experience, you’d want to highlight that as well.


The narrative style and use of first-person is fine. Advocating the use of emojis or a link to a profile in linkedIn reveals lack of knowledge and experience on the part of the author. The article is also shallow and completely ignores the fact that the impact of a resume written as advised depends enormously on the type of job, the level of the job and who the hiring manager is. Professional jobs, higher level jobs and higher level managers… Read more »

Gicu Arpagicu
Gicu Arpagicu

This is that last “advice post” I read on this site! Job seekers respond to whatever employers put in a job description. When recruiters stop putting these words in their poorly created job descriptions, job seekers will follow suit. I thought you guys were preaching “resume customization” not long ago, aka insert whatever words or phrases employers put in their ineffective ads then turn on their filters. Meaningful JDs and well-intended employers are, sadly, not the norm.


Laura is so correct. Furthermore, emojis are so childish. They’re okay in personal e-mails and text messages but a (presumed) adult sending an emoji to a prospective employer?! Author Jen Hubley Luckwaldt should be a kindergarten teacher.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin

EXCELLENT article obviously written by an EXPERIENCED EXPERT, presumably CERTIFIED in their field and is PASSIONATE about the subject that they SPECIALIZE in. It gives us the LEADERSHIP needed to provide a STRATEGIC resume provided we are CREATIVE and stay FOCUSED.

(This is my attempt at a sarcastic reply – make you’re own mind up what I think about the article 🙂 )


ON THE SUBJECT OF THANK YOU NOTES to PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYERS for the INTERVIEW they GRANTED YOU: I invite fellow forum commenters to help me out on this and yea verily, forsooth, lift the scales from mine blind eyes. Despite my having had etiquette and consideration and kindness for my fellowman inculcated in me first by my parents (one of whom was a diplomat), then having been steeped in etiquette at my high school which is one of the foremost private… Read more »

academic writer
academic writer

After reading your article I was amazed. I know that you explain it very well. And I hope that other readers will also experience how I feel after reading your article.


Nice to be visiting your blog again, it has been months for me. Well this article that i’ve been waited for so long. I need this article to complete my assignment in the college, and it has same topic with your article. Thanks, great share.

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