Buzzwords Are a Buzzkill

As an HR professional, you’re no doubt familiar with that dull sensation brought on by seeing too darned many buzzwords in resumes and employee profiles. As you probably know, overuse of buzzwords may indicate lack of confidence in the buzzword-er and prompt exteme eye-rolling in the buzzword-ee–and that’s just a buzzkill. LinkedIn wants to help you–and the people who may be applying for jobs at your company. In particular, it wants everyone to stop larding their LinkedIn profile with overused, trite and meaningless buzzwords like “creative,” “analytical,” “innovative” and “problem solving.” Stop it now, says Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s career expert: “Millions of professionals say they’re ‘creative’ … . Pointing to concrete examples of the creative work you’ve done is more convincing than simply stating you are a ‘creative professional.’ ”

LinkedIn has just released its annual study of the most prevalent buzzwords found among the nearly 200 million profiles on its site. “Creative” was the top overused buzzword this year, as it was in last year’s study. In the inaugural 2010 study, “extensive experience” was the No. 1 buzzword. In this year’s study, “creative” was followed by “organizational,” “effective,” “motivated,” “extensive experience” and “track record.”

Of course, Americans are far from the only ones who like to use buzzwords: “Creative” was also the favorite term among LinkedIn users in Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and Singapore. “Motivated” was the most-used in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United Kingdom, while “Responsible” dominated in France and Italy. In fact, it seems as if the only truly creative folks are residing in Brazil, where “experimental” was No. 1. Interesting …

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