This article is originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
If you’ve ever spent more than five minutes in a tedious meeting then chances are you’ve been exposed to some baffling buzzwords. Usually, it involves someone in middle management, saying things like “let’s maximise our key directives offline” while other people nod and pretend to know what’s going on.
Basically, they’re impressive-sounding words that mean very little. They’re also the types of words people use to sell themselves to potential employers.
Despite the fact I’m not strategic, motivated, passionate or creative, one glance at my CV would give you the opposite impression. And it seems I’m not the only one – LinkedIn has released its annual Top 10 Buzzwords list, which reveals the most popular words on member profiles.
This year Australians are keen to highlight (exaggerate) how much we’ve achieved, with “experienced” topping the list as the most popular buzzword.
LinkedIn’s Top 10 Australian Buzzwords this year are:
“It’s not surprising given that we’ve seen recruiters are looking for specialised skills,” says Shiva Kumar, LinkedIn’s Head of Brand and Communications in Australia and New Zealand.
“Experience is in demand, specialist skills are in demand, so that’s why people are including the words in their profile, to advertise how much they know and how much they can bring.”
Meanwhile, the words “focused” and “excellent” dropped off the list completely. It’s a shock in the buzzword world, with “focused” having been a regular on the top ten list for years!
“They’re too generic and we’re seeing a shift towards more specialised words that people can then marry up with their skills and experience,” explains Mr Kumar.
“So we’re seeing less “loose” words like focus, excellent, amazing or innovative.”
Presumably, you’re now updating your resume to remove all mentions of how amazing and innovative you are and while you’re there, Mr Kumar has some more handy hints.
“Don’t combine buzzwords,” warns Mr Kumar. Wait…so are you saying I can’t be an experienced expert or passionately skilled?
“If you just throw them together in the hope that you’ll impress an employer or recruiter then you’re in for a tough time,” says Mr Kumar.
“If you claim to be passionately skilled, then that needs to make sense with your experience.”
Luckily for my LinkedIn profile, I do have the experience to prove that I’m passionately skilled, but maybe it’s better to err on the side of caution and follow Mr Kumar’s advice.
Elsewhere on the list, “leadership” worked its way into the top ten, with the job-seeking site revealing the word has become increasingly popular on the profiles of young professionals.
“Leadership is an important word because it shows that you can excel and with more workers moving between jobs, it’s a skill that employers are on the hunt for,” reveals Mr Kumar.
“But with a word like leadership you must be sure to back up your claims,” he adds.
I know a little something about leadership – I was head Library Monitor during all of primary school – but unfortunately, Mr Kumar believes including those types of details might backfire.
“If you use the word leadership, then include some projects you’ve led or jobs where you’ve managed a team,” says Mr Kumar.
“But don’t go overboard, you don’t want to include too much unnecessary detail or alarm bells will start to go off.”
Proving that a little passion never goes out of fashion, “passionate” stitched up a top ten spot as well. While I personally find the word “passionate” to be an immediate red flag, especially when it comes to talking about work, Mr Kumar can’t get enough of it!
“Passionate is my favourite word of this year’s list,” declares Mr Kumar, passionately.
“It allows you to show some of your personality, you can touch on your passions and explain how they can help in the workforce.”
“It can also reveal a bit more about yourself to a potential employer and that might be the difference between you and the other person going for the job,” he adds.
So while you might think that no one cares about your secret passion for Korean pop music, perhaps it’s time to let a little more of yourself loose on your LinkedIn profile.
Now before you go and start busting out these buzzwords to anyone who will listen, Mr Kumar has some final words of warning.
“I think the thing to remember about all buzzwords is that they exist for a reason,” he advises.
“It’s not that you shouldn’t use them, but use them sparingly and carefully.”
And he should know, he’s an experienced expert.