Are you creative and innovative? So is everybody else.
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If you want a potential employer to know how creative you are, don’t use “creative” on your LinkedIn profile.
Don’t use “innovative” or “dynamic” either.
Those adjectives are so popular on online job seekers’ profiles that they do little to distinguish you from other candidates. In fact, “creative” was the No. 1 overused buzzword on LinkedIn this year, the professional networking site announced today.
To identify trite words that professionals use to describe themselves, LinkedIn analyzed the profiles of its 135 million members. In addition to “creative,” “motivated,” and “dynamic,” “problem solving” is another overused phrase, as is “extensive experience” and “track record.” Ironically, these descriptors are so overused that they directly contradict the supposed creativity of a candidate.
Also interesting: “results-oriented,” which made last year’s list, didn’t make the cut this year. That’s partly because LinkedIn expanded the pool of profiles analyzed to include non-English ones, which were translated for this year’s data.
Globally, these are the most frequently used terms on LinkedIn profiles:
4. Extensive experience
5. Track record
8. Problem solving
9. Communication skills
Since these words are used so much, they’ve lost some of their meaning, said Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s connection director. The problem, she said, is that those phrases are not specific to one type of skills. Instead, they can be used to describe anyone and everything – exactly what you don’t want when you’re applying for a job.
“Use language that illustrates your unique professional accomplishments and experiences,” Williams said in a news release from the company. “Give concrete examples of results you’ve achieved whenever possible, and reference attributes that are specific to you.”
For example, instead of writing of “extensive experience,” job seekers should say how many years they’ve worked in a field, how many and what kind of projects they worked on, or what kind of sales deals they closed.
Instead of describing yourself as “creative” or “innovative,” describe a situation where you did something differently, and explain why that approach was successful.
Those details – rather than vague, trite descriptors – will help you gain an edge in your job search.
Jessica Binsch is a digital journalist living and working in Washington, D.C. She holds a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism and blogs at CuriousontheRoad.com.