Linkedin’s five most overused words

Buzz words crop up in classwork all the time.  Here are five to avoid, culled from Linkedin’s research. I’ve edited, and added my own comments:


As one might expect, they’re terms that sound awfully nice but say almost nothing specific about a person.

Dynamic is at No. 10.

At No. 9 is communication skills, and at No. 8 we have problem solving. Both of these guarantee nothing more than the person not being paralyzed by the prospect of a conversation or an empty stapler. Innovative is No. 7 and motivated is No. 6 — two more generic adjectives suggesting attributes that an employer would probably like to take for granted.

Track record is at No. 5. Note that it is not specified whether this track record is good or bad, though this person definitely has a track record of some kind. More important, a curriculum vitae is a track record in and of itself.

At No. 4, we have extensive experience. (Please see above paragraph.)

At No. 3 is effective, a promise that when you are being dynamic, you’re really making the most of it. And in second place,  organizational — it’s like saying one is punctual or has neat handwriting.

And the No. one most overused professional buzzword is creative. This attribute, like many of the others, is one that is better shown than told. As LinkedIn’s connection director put it in a release, “Give concrete examples of results you’ve achieved whenever possible and reference attributes that are specific to you.” And please, never use the word synergy without your tongue firmly pressed into your cheek.


I haven’t done the kind of research Linkedin has done, but perhaps the second most common writing error in essays in my classes is lack of specificity (see creative above). Yesterday I asked a student, “What do you mean when you write ‘Living in America is so awesome?'”  When she and her peer group stumbled over reasons, I said “If you can’t think of specific reasons why living in America, as opposed to living in, say, Australia or France, is awesome then you shouldn’t use that phrase.”  (They came up with some pretty good ones once they put their minds to it.)


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