The benefits of making sure your LinkedIn profile stands out from the crowd are obvious, but for some reason there are certain words that everyone, regardless of profession, ends up using.
You can probably guess what they are. To help confirm your suspicions, LinkedIn recently released the top 10 most overused profile buzzwords.
Here they are in order:
- Extensive experience
- Track record
And, depending on your industry, innovative and dynamic are up there, too.
We can all giggle about how cheesy it is to describe yourself as passionate, but seriously, what can you do if you really are passionate about your field? How do you get that across without sounding like everyone else?
Here are a few suggestions. Hint: It’s more about showing people what you’re made of than telling them.
How to Show You’re Motivated, Passionate, and Driven
Enthusiasm for your area of expertise is a highly desirable trait. It’s one of the key things hiring managers look for in new hires, so it’s no surprise people want to include it on their profiles.
The problem is, words like “motivated,” “passionate,” and “driven” aren’t just overused; they’re really ineffective in getting across your ambition. It’s like describing your own career as legendary. It doesn’t work that way. You need someone else to say it.
Luckily, LinkedIn already has a built-in function for that—you just need to use it. Request recommendations from managers, colleagues, and clients. In your request, you can even mention that it would be great if they could speak to your drive and motivation. These recommendations will pop up right under your experience, so they’ll be front and center.
While you wait for those recommendations to come in, think about the work you do for your industry as a whole. Are you active in a professional organization? Do you volunteer your services pro bono for nonprofits? Did you present at a local conference? Add and fill out optional sections like “Organizations,” “Projects,” or “Volunteer” to really get the point across that you’re passionate about what you do.
How to Show You’re Creative, Responsible, and Strategic
While hiring managers care about enthusiasm, the absolute number one thing they’re concerned with is likely your ability to actually do the job. So, instead of implying that you can by describing yourself as creative, responsible, and strategic, actually prove it by describing your accomplishments in concrete terms.
You’ve heard this all before: Use examples. Tell stories that use numbers and results. For example, if you want to get across that you’re responsible, give a walk through of some of some times when you went above and beyond to ensure the tasks you were assigned were completed on time. Or to show your strategic thinking skills, mention in concrete terms some of the initiatives you started and what problems they solved for your team or company.
How to Show You’re an Expert with Extensive Experience and a Great Track Record
This one is frustrating. How else are you supposed to say you have relevant experience without saying any of these words? Before you dig up a thesaurus, know that at this point, you probably don’t need to be using words at all. If you have recommendations lined up, a built out profile with experience beyond just your work experience, and concrete accomplishments written up, there’s really only one thing left for you to do to show off your expertise.
LinkedIn does the math for when you include dates for your work experience, so no need to worry about saying, “12 years of experience.” Instead, go one step beyond describing your experience and show off some of it by uploading actual examples of your work. Think slide decks for presentations you’ve done, design work, articles you’ve written, relevant press releases, news reports on projects you played a role in—the list goes on. Polish off your profile by making it more than a profile. Take the “show, don’t tell” mantra to heart and make it a portfolio.
Describing yourself as a passionate and creative expert sounds good when we’re writing, say, a LinkedIn Summary, because we’ve heard these words so many times before. They’re familiar and powerful even, but they definitely don’t stand out. Communicating what your skills and expertise are takes work, but that’s what it’ll take if you want to be that one in a hundred who catches a recruiter’s eye.
Photo of keyboard courtesy of Shutterstock.
Lily Zhang serves as a Manager of Graduate Student Professional Development at the MIT Media Lab where she works with a range of students from AI experts to interaction designers. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author