While you might feel that saying you have a great "track record" of being "organized" is an accurate way to relate your experience on your resume or LinkedIn profile, hiring managers have had enough of these generic buzzwords. They really do little to describe the specific experience you've gained at a job, and they're too easy to fall back on.
Each year, LinkedIn identifies the top 10 overused buzzwords on LinkedIn profiles. It's interesting to see that the words do change from year to year. Here's the list for 2012:
5. Extensive experience
6. Track record
10. Problem solving
It can be a challenge to find more succinct words to describe your experience, especially if you're not a writer, but breaking out of the conventional word choice box may be what attracts an employer to your profile and helps you stand out from the crowd.
How to Find Better Words to Describe Your Work Experience
LinkedIn has more than 187 million professionals using its site and knows a thing or two about making a professional profile more appealing. Here's the company's advice for getting away from these buzzwords and finding your own keywords to describe your professional experience.
1. Check out the competition. Performing a LinkedIn Advanced People Search for people who live in your ZIP code and have the same job title as you can give you feedback on what works in a profile and what's a turnoff. Take notes on what you like and what you don't like, and incorporate that back into your own profile, says LinkedIn.
2. Become a magnet for endorsements. One way to attract employers is to get endorsements from people you've worked with. The more LinkedIn Skills and Expertise you add to your profile, the more opportunity there is to be endorsed. When one of your contacts logs in to his profile, he will have the opportunity to endorse you for specific job skills you've listed. Aim to add an eclectic mix that targets the type of job you're looking for.
3. Make heads turn ... with a killer professional headline. Your professional headline is one of the first things people see in LinkedIn search results, according to the company. Your default headline is based on the title you entered for your most recent position, but you can (and should) edit it. Create a professional headline that will draw people in and entice them to click through to learn more about you.
I would add my own advice on the subject: when you initially write out your job description and find yourself using these buzzwords, use a thesaurus to find better words. Or consider, what are you trying to explain? If you're talking about being "highly creative," ask yourself what you did that made you creative. Creativity has a wide range of applications, and the more specific you are, the better an employer understands your skill set.
Have a friend review your profile or resume and highlight any of the words from this list so you can tweak the copy. You may not be able to completely avoid using any of these words, but make sure you justify using each one. If there is an absolute reason why you think you need it, keep it, but be aware that hiring managers may be oversensitive to seeing the same words on every resume they review.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.
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