Describing Yourself On Social Media? Here Are Some Buzzwords To Avoid

For a guy like me, the six most terrifying words in the English language are, “Could I get your bio, please?” I hate describing myself and what I do. My LinkedIn profile has been reworked several times trying to do just that before I got it to its current, less fluffy stage.

For professionals in the talent business, your social media profiles–and especially your LinkedIn profile–are probably one of the first encounters potential employees have when they are looking at or researching your company.

Is it full of clichés and buzzwords or does your profile deliver a clear message that won’t sound like every other inane profile out there?

LinkedIn has recently released some data on the most used buzzwords throughout their network and it is a good template of words to avoid using when describing yourself.

According to the release, the most used words for US-based professionals are:

  1. Creative
  2. Organizational
  3. Effective
  4. Motivated
  5. Extensive experience
  6. Track record
  7. Innovative
  8. Responsible
  9. Analytical
  10. Problem solving

Not surprisingly, it doesn’t differ much from 2011’s list. A casual look at my list of LinkedIn connections (most of whom are HR and recruiting professionals) leads me to believe that while most people don’t abuse these terms, almost everyone drops a few into their profile.

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I should also mention that I see these words used extensively in job descriptions. I’ve been as guilty as anybody else when I spent a lot of time retooling job descriptions before I started working a requisition.

The problem with these words isn’t so much that they are used frequently but that they are often used as a substitute for hard evidence. We tell job candidates not to tell but to demonstrate why they have these qualities. For instance, instead of saying you’re creative, you talk about the creative things you’ve done.

That might be tougher in a world of 140 character Twitter updates but it might be better to drop the buzzwords (especially the most common ones) altogether if you have no alternative. That being said, especially on a LinkedIn profile, you do have room to expand and demonstrate rather than keep the buzzword-laden bio up because it sounds good.

If you won’t take that advice from me though, maybe you’ll take it from someone with extensive experience and a track record of creativity and innovation instead?


2 Comments on “Describing Yourself On Social Media? Here Are Some Buzzwords To Avoid

  1. The whole resume- cover letter description thing is BS anyway. Think about it. ALL the buzz words are for the sole purpose of impressing someone to get ahead in your career. In truth, if we really were creative, driven, organized, ambitious, dedicated etc…
    why in the hell would we be out looking for work? Employers would have had a bidding war over hiring such a diamond.
    Look, cover letters and resumes are no different than “Mad Libs” plugging in adjectives.
    I mean, c’mon, spearhead? I would never hire anyone who “spearheads” anything.


  2. Totally agree w/you Kate! It gets PAINFUL reading resumes that are total fabrications, too! Candidates tend to “feed the dog what they want”! 🙂

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