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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

3 Tips to Avoid All Those Buzzwords That Are Ruining Your LinkedIn Profile

“I need two pairs of drawers, walking!”

Unless you’ve worked at a diner before, that statement probably doesn’t mean much to you. That’s the thing about buzzwords: They bring teams together and streamline communication, but they leave outsiders in the dark. Worse, overused terms lose their meaning altogether.

When you confuse people, you lose people—and that’s doubly true on LinkedIn.

Jargon and clichés not only make it harder for you to be found on social media, they can also alienate the visitors who actually do stop by your profile. So, if you want to balance the industry shorthand with high-impact language, just follow these tips:

1. Use a Headline That’s Searchable

Your headline is one of the best places to score instant keyword points. It’s also one of the easiest spots to slip in a buzzword and cut your chances of being found by recruiters, employers, and potential clients. Take me for example. Officially, I’m a CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer), but that acronym means nothing to most of the world, so I don’t include it in my headline.

When people search for job candidates, they tend to search by general titles and not by specialized terms.

To increase your chances of appearing in search results, your headline should include a few different search terms related to your area of expertise. Here are a few examples of what that would look like:

  • “Fullstack UX/UI Designer: I Solve Design Challenges for Travel Companies”
  • “Fundraising and Development Expert Specializing in Donor Communications, Volunteer Management, and Solicitation Training”
  • “Digital Strategist and Marketing Program Manager | Helping You Expand Your Brand Online”

While it’s not essential that you include a tagline, value statements are a smooth way to work additional keywords into your headline. (More on that here.)

2. Clarify Obscure Job Titles

The first time someone views your profile, it’s likely that he or she will quickly scan your professional timeline, absorbing only surface-level highlights—like your job titles. So, if they’re confusing (read: stuffed with buzzwords), your reader will leave your profile without a good sense of what you do.

Consider a title like: “Chief Everything Officer.” It sounds cool, but what does it actually mean? Outside of your workplace, it means zilch. But the good news is that it’s totally fixable. You can create clarity around your responsibilities by using a dual title, such as “Chief Everything Officer (Community Management & HR).” Easy, right?

And, yes: Lots of people feel a little uncomfortable renaming their role. But if you think about it, you’re not changing your position, you’re just clarifying details about the one you have!

3. Cleanse Your Summary of Clichés

Too many people fill their LinkedIn profiles with jargon. For every “detailed-oriented team player” out there, there is also a guy who can’t stop talking about how much he “thinks outside the box.”

That’s because clichés feel safe. It’s more comfortable to talk about yourself in nondescript, vanilla language (or content you copied from your resume) than it is to dive deep and tell a story that reveals details unique to you.

But in order to write an effective summary, you need to show your personality—that’s what resonates with others.

Here’s a few phrases that will help you flip clichés into personality-rich summary sentences:

If you’re detail-oriented:

“Colleagues know me for managing projects with a 360° approach.”

If you’re a team player:

“I’m great building consensus around new ideas and filling gaps throughout the software development lifecycle.”

If you think outside the box:

“Over the course of my career in the FinTech sector, I’ve present unexpected, but value-heavy design solutions for clients, such as...”

There’s nothing wrong with identifying with any of these clichés. Just be sure to present your strengths in a way that stirs curiosity, instead of snores.

While LinkedIn is generally close-lipped about how keywords play into the way your profile ranks, loading your profile with buzzwords is a surefire way to go unnoticed. If you want to go from a place of yelling, “I need two pairs of drawers, walking!” to one where you say, “Gimme a couple of cups of coffee to go,” fill your profile with the language used by the people you’re trying to connect with—you’ll impress them in no time.

Photo of woman at computer courtesy of Tetra Images/Getty Images.