10 Brand-Diluting Phrases That Weaken Your LinkedIn Profile

by Meg Guiseppi on February 4, 2013

Brand-diluting phrases

Many of us resist change.

We’d like some things to work the same way forever.

It’s so much easier than having to learn new ways of doing things.

If you’re in an executive job search for the first time in, say, 5 years or so, you’ve found that it doesn’t work the same way as the last time you looked for a job.

If you’re wise, you’ve learned about and embraced the new ways.

Several years ago, workplace and career expert Liz Ryan wrote an article listing these 10 boilerplate phrases that kill resumes:

  • Results-oriented professional
  • Cross-functional teams
  • More than [x] years of progressively responsible experience
  • Superior (or excellent) communication skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Met or exceeded expectations
  • Proven track record of success
  • Works well with all levels of staff
  • Team player
  • Bottom-line orientation

These are time-worn phrases that have been overused across executives’ career marketing materials for more than a decade.

Nearly five years after she wrote the article, the same hackneyed phrases are still being circulated in hefty doses.

Other vague, overused, and ineffectual phrases include:

  • Responsible for . . .
  • Demonstrated success at . . .
  • Proven abilities in . . .
  • Forward-thinking
  • Team Leader

When I first started writing career marketing materials for job seekers, the phrases above were new and little-used, so they DID help to make executive job seekers stand out . . . but that was about 20 years ago.

What’s wrong with using these phrases in your LinkedIn profile?

Two things:

  • Non-specific, anemic phrases waste precious space and don’t help define the unique value you offer. Differentiation (not sameness) positions you to land.
  • The right relevant keywords (not fluff) need to be in the right places in your profile if you want to be found by recruiters and hiring decision makers.

Especially in today’s competitive executive job market, your personal marketing materials (online profiles, resume, biography, and other career documents and web pages) need to differentiate you, generate chemistry and precisely distinguish the value you offer your target employers over others competing for the same jobs.

Using the same anemic phrases, and sounding like everyone else, won’t pique interest, and reinforce your brand and good-fit for those employers.

Let the people you’re trying to attract know specifically how you’ll positively impact their organization.

Do the back-end personal branding work to help you clearly define what makes you unique and valuable, and come up with differentiating words and phrases to showcase your value.

Pay special attention to how you brand your LinkedIn professional headline and summary section. Don’t waste valuable real estate by using any of the anemic phrases above in your headline. Recruiters and hiring decision makers won’t search “results-oriented executive” to find candidates like you.

They search using relevant keywords and phrases. Make your LinkedIn headline SEO-friendly by including the right relevant keywords.

Related posts:

Social Recruiting and Your Executive Job Search

LinkedIn Guide for Personal Branding and Executive Job Search

How to Get Your Personal Brand Into Your LinkedIn Profile

photo by Pink Sherbet Photography

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg Guiseppi February 5, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Thanks for bringing up a good point, Bob.

If a job description contains certain function- and skills-related relevant keywords — such as “Operations Management”, “Supply Chain”, “Procurement” — those words need to appear in the resume.

But would a phrase such as “results-oriented professional” be an important one that scanning systems would look for?

2 Bob Simmons February 5, 2013 at 11:21 am

As a fellow Professional and Published Resume Writer, I read with interest your comments on overused words that weaken both your resume and Linkedin Profile. What happens if these are buzz words that appear in job postings, that the Optical Scanning Recognition (OCR) and Applicant Tracking System (ATS) would pick up through Word Cloud?

3 Bob Simmons February 5, 2013 at 11:21 am

As a fellow Professional and Published Resume Writer, I read with interest your comments on overused words that weaken both your resume and Linkedin Profile. What happens if these are buzz words that appear in job postings, that the Optical Scanning Recognition (OCR) and Applicant Tracking System (ATS) would pick up through Word Cloud?

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