Are you focused, passionate and enthusiastic? The overused words to avoid on your LinkedIn profile

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Amy Swales
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What to write on your CV, cover letter or LinkedIn profile is a minefield.

If it’s not bad enough pushing through our British inclination to shy away from anything remotely braggy (“You want me to write a whole page on me? And why I’m better than anyone else for this job? Are you out of your mind?”), there are plenty of employer turn-offs to stumble into.

Thus, working out how to get noticed in a sea of fellow job-hunters without sticking your foot in it with a cringe phrase or clichéd cover letter is pretty daunting. Never fear: the careers experts at LinkedIn have revealed the network’s most-used words of 2016, creating a handy list of buzzwords to avoid if you’re wanting to stand out from the crowd.

And it’s bad news for everyone insisting they’re passionate and focused…

Topping the list, which you can see in full below, is ‘specialised’ (used by half a million people on their profiles), followed by ‘leadership’ and ‘experienced’, with ‘passionate’ and ‘strategic’ coming in at fourth and fifth respectively.

1. Specialised
2. Leadership
3. Experienced
4. Passionate
5. Strategic
6. Excellent
7. Focused
8. Creative
9. Enthusiastic
10. Successful

The top 10 is rounded out with such CV classics as ‘focused’, ‘creative’ and ‘enthusiastic’.

Having analysed millions of LinkedIn profiles, including more than 21 million in the UK alone, the professional networking site reveals that job-hunters do appear to be listening to its sage advice, with 2015’s most overused word, ‘motivated’, dropping out of the 2016 top 10 entirely.

While you may well feel passionate about your career and actually be focused, creative or experienced, the danger with buzzwords is that they’re so overused they no longer have an impact.

As LinkedIn’s Darain Faraz comments, “If you’re looking to grab someone’s attention, words which appear on hundreds of thousands of other profiles is not the way to do it.”

So what can you do? Author Christopher Sandford, a bestselling biographer well-versed in finding ways to describe achievements, has provided a few tips on updating your online profile below (and if nothing else, try to steer clear of jargon like this). Go forth and find new jobs...

Mind your language

Your profile summary is one of the first things people look at, so it’s important to get it right. You want the reader to want to know more about you, so start with something punchy.

Be direct

It’s often tempting to speak in the third person when it comes to our working lives - don’t! It’s impersonal and won’t draw the reader in.

Show, don’t just tell

While language is important, so is showing real examples of your work. Instead of using buzzwords like ‘strategic’, prove it by uploading presentations or projects that bring this to life.

Images: iStock / LinkedIn


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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.