For the fourth year in a row, LinkedIn has released its annual list of buzzwords – the most overused words and phrases in members' profiles. While "creative" held the top spot in 2011 and 2012, this year, the No. 1 most-overused buzzword globally is "responsible."
Of course you are responsible – it's a key description many people find essential to include on their LinkedIn profile and convey to prospective employers and clients. But the problem with buzzwords such as "responsible" is that the more they are used, the less impact they have.
Consider your LinkedIn profile a tool to advertise your professional brand. When it comes to getting noticed by prospective employers or clients, it is critical to differentiate yourself by strategically selecting words, skills and experiences that help you to stand out from the crowd.
Not that you should eliminate buzzwords from your LinkedIn profile and professional vocabulary altogether, but aim to use them selectivity and with careful consideration to how they can help you outshine other professionals you may be competing with for career or business opportunities. Here are five of this year's most overused buzzwords and tips for how to best incorporate them into your LinkedIn profile or résumé.
Get a second opinion. The most effective way to showcase your responsibility is to get those in your professional circles, particularly those you report to, to vouch for your talents. Ask for endorsements or recommendations from clients, colleagues and most importantly, managers. Unfortunately, recommendations can be too general, such as, "Bill is a great guy to work with." When seeking recommendations, ask your references to speak specifically to your ability to perform responsibly and ideally tie in examples of successful outcomes you helped facilitate.
Demonstrate your experience. If you are claiming to be an expert, you must demonstrate a range of extensive experiences that put you in a position of knowing more than others. One way to showcase this is to fill out your LinkedIn profile in its entirety to display the work you've done and your areas of expertise.
Broaden your expert voice. Make sure to build a broad social profile and stellar reputation that credits you as a true expert. Contributing to blogs, sharing articles with your expert commentary and speaking at high-profile events are all great ways to demonstrate your expertise by sharing it with others.
Let others vouch for you. Finally, one of the highest-impact ways to demonstrate your expertise is to have others vouch for it. Customer/client testimonials, endorsements and recommendations are the lifeblood of verifying true expert status.
Show results. The best way to showcase your strategic savvy is to do so with tangible examples. Try to quantify the impact of your strategic decisions and show how the outcome of a particular project ties directly back to the actions you helped facilitate. Show off your achievements by uploading examples of your work to your LinkedIn profile, such as photos, videos or presentations. This provides others with tangible, contextual representations of your strategic talents and successes.
Create a compelling summary. You'll want to communicate the information in your LinkedIn summary during an interview and throughout your LinkedIn profile and résumé. Utilize your summary to tell the reader why this career and/or position means something to you. This is an amazing way to differentiate yourself from the other driven candidates in the applicant pool. Here's an excellent example of a personal job description: "Even though I'm a PR person by trade, I'll always be a reporter at heart. I'm incapable of pitching something I myself don't wholeheartedly believe in."
The answer may be right in front of your eyes. Ask 10 people what it means to be creative, and you'll get 10 answers. The best strategy for achieving what a company is looking for in terms of a creative talent is to go to the source. Go to the company's page on LinkedIn and take a look not only at the positions they are offering, but the LinkedIn profiles of existing employees and the descriptions of its products and services. In the majority of cases, the clues to fitting your creative talent into the company's vision will be right in front of your eyes.
Apply these tips when using buzzwords in your professional profile and job applications, and you'll stand out from the other responsible, strategic, creative and driven experts out there.
Nicole Williams is the bestselling author of three books, the latest of which, "Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success," has been optioned by Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, the producers behind the Academy Award winning films "American Beauty," "Milk" and "Silver Linings Playbook." Nicole is also LinkedIn's Career Expert. Nicole's role at LinkedIn is to help professionals understand how to enhance their careers using the LinkedIn network. The company she founded, WORKS by Nicole Williams, is the go-to resource for career-minded young women and was named one of Forbes magazine's Top 10 Career Websites for Women. You've seen her on TV – as a regular guest on "TODAY," "Good Morning America," and CNN – and in print, where her advice has appeared on the pages of ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Marie Claire and the Wall Street Journal.