The Power of A Single Word

On Friday, I received two pieces of information that I would not normally put together into one blog, but they coincided too well to resist:

1. One of my clients, on the heels of an interview, wrote to me excitedly that the interviewer loved her resume—especially the word “unstoppable” in her summary section. The interviewer had never seen this word on a resume before.

2. LinkedIn came out with its list of Top Ten Global Buzzwords. Cautions LinkedIn: “Pledge to banish trite buzzwords [from your profile].” The article gives excellent advice on how to avoid using meaningless phrasing to describe yourself, as does my book, How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile. I encourage you to read the article—and my book—for the tips they offer!

Here’s the list of 2014’s overused LinkedIn buzzwords:

1. Motivated
2. Passionate
3. Creative
4. Driven
5. Extensive experience
6. Responsible
7. Strategic
8. Track record
9. Organizational
10. Expert

Are You Unstoppable?

You might notice that “unstoppable”—the word that so impressed my client’s interviewer—is not on the list of LinkedIn buzzwords. It’s no coincidence that the word caught the attention of someone who probably goes through hundreds of resumes every week.

I’m not advocating that you use the word “unstoppable” in your resume or LinkedIn profile, unless it is the absolute best adjective to describe you. I don’t want to be “responsible for” adding “unstoppable” to next year’s list! Rather, I want you to find some language that doesn’t include the above trite words and phrases used by multitudes of LinkedIn users. (I’m willing to bet these are the words showing up most often on resumes too.)

I also want you to comb through your resume and LinkedIn profile to see how many overused buzzwords show up. Then ask yourself how you can say things differently so that you don’t sound like everyone else.

How to Stand Out on LinkedIn

Here’s a hint: Whereas anyone can claim to be motivated or creative, or to have a track record, not everyone can claim that they stepped into a competitive [insert type of] market and drove an organization from #2 to #1 worldwide, or that they conducted a multi-media campaign that increased a customer base by 500K.

Whatever your achievements, get to the details and stop using the same words everyone else is using to “try” to sound good. It’s not working! Instead, use LinkedIn best practices for each section of your profile, especially your headline, job titles, special sections, skills & expertise, and recommendations. That’s how you’ll call positive attention to what you have to offer.

On a personal note, I must admit I’m saddened to see the word Expert on the buzzwords list, given that the word is in the name of my company. But that is something I’ll have to live with.


    • Re: unstoppable essayist. Hm, maybe, but might that not imply that you can’t restrain yourself from being too verbose? I think we get coached in another direction on this site and others like it related to writing. On the other hand, consistency with regular communications with some element of value-add to each warrants mention.

      • Thanks for your comment, Kent, and for being a careful and loyal reader! My advice in my blog was to use the best adjective to describe who you are — not to use “unstoppable” just because it was the right word for one person! So I will take a pass on the suggested name change. Some adjectives that would describe my company and our work would be consistent, contribution-driven, targeted and persuasive. The other issue is that I am not an Essayist!

  1. Your blog mentions using “LinkedIn” best practices for each section of profile. Your book specifies mistakes to avoid. Have you published anything on what those best practices are for each profile section? What I got from this blog is to use specific results in our profiles and resumes, rather than descriptive adjectives. I might as well write “I’m the best person for the job” in that case, buzzwords or not.

  2. Thanks for posting…here are some of “buzz-kills” for me:

    growth hacker
    guerilla marketer

    All of these were included in a 3-sentence blurb forwarded to me yesterday from a job seeker. No specifics, just a parade of meaningless words. Easy decision to Delete…

Leave a Reply