By Laura Smith-Proulx
An interesting practice seems to have cropped up among self-written social media profiles, where the phrases that have been taboo on resumes (like “self-motivated team player”) are creeping back into lists of job hunter credentials on LinkedIn.
Unfortunately, these mundane, dry, and redundant phrases can make it difficult for you to maximize the power of LinkedIn as an executive job search tool.
It’s also challenging for recruiters and employers to see past these overused terms when looking for your value proposition!
However, with a little ingenuity, you can pull the lackluster phrases out of your Profile and replace them with powerful writing worthy of your career, leadership style, and brand message.
Here are some of the worst offenders lurking among LinkedIn Profiles, along with suggestions for alternative wording:
1. Accomplished professional.
If this is really true, then show (don’t tell!) your readers about it. This phrase is likely to prompt more annoyance from employers than appreciation.
Instead, consider using a sentence or phrase that speaks specifically to your achievements, such as "Pharmaceutical sales leader honored for closing 147% of quota during 2009 and 2010” or "CIO heading multimillion-dollar outsourcing contracts at major banks."
In addition, you can add achievement data (right in the Summary) that cuts to the heart of what you do and why you’re good at it, with sentences like "Sales manager honored for coaching 3 Top Producers" or "Operations Director promoted for increasing production line efficiency."
Most companies plan on hiring someone who fits this description, and they weed out anyone who doesn’t perform to their expectations. It’s almost to your detriment to point this out in your Profile.
You might try adding information that actually PROVES your drive for results, with mention of how you’ve earned a promotion in just 6 months, or the ways in which your performance has outpaced that of your executive peers.
3. Exceptional communicator.
The trouble with this phrase is that it’s not only tough to prove, but that the person using it often misspells one or more words (really).
Since your LinkedIn Profile gives you plenty of opportunity to demonstrate your writing skills, you’ll have the opportunity to convey complex concepts or perhaps distill a major project into a short description… both of which would speak louder about your leadership and communications skills than this phrase ever will.
4. Proven success.
Well, employers would hope so. After all, why mention your success unless you have some proof to back it up?
Here’s where you’re better off noting some metrics, as in “exceeded quota for 7 out of past 8 years,” “brought company to 87% market share,” or “met 100% of project budget constraints despite limited resources.”
These achievements can help online readers understand the scope of your work and the reasons behind your executive career progression.
Ahem... of course you are. Even worse, “successful experience” is so redundant that you’re wasting space and LinkedIn keyword optimization by even thinking of these phrases.
One way to replace this word is to simply specify the number of years you’ve worked in the industry.
However, be careful here: “15 years of experience in sales” doesn’t quite have the same ring as “Generated 23% average over-quota revenue throughout progressively challenging sales roles.”
6. Responsible for.
Just like a resume, there is no reason to clutter the landscape of your Profile with a phrase that is largely assumed.
Rather than use this phrase, you can just skip to the relevant facts (“managed $500K budget,” “supervised staff of 10”, “headed global division”) and save everyone’s time.
7. Microsoft Word skills.
There’s no advantage to listing basic skills that nearly all candidates possess. Especially at the executive level, employers will be more surprised if you don’t have these skills, than if you take the time to list them.
You’re much better off researching target jobs and noting the leadership skills (keywords) required for the position, then using these terms to show your competency.
To summarize, back up and take a long look at your LinkedIn Profile. Are you committing the same mistakes that have been appearing on resumes for years?
If so, it’s time to refresh your approach and provide specific details on the high points of your career—information that others can readily relate to (and even use to hire you) from your LinkedIn Profile.
About the Author
Laura Smith-Proulx of An Expert Resume is an executive resume writer and former recruiter who partners with CEO, CIO, COO, CFO, CTO, SVP, and Director candidates to win interviews at major corporations. A certified Professional Resume Writer, Online Professional Networking Strategist, Career Management Coach, Interview Coach, and Microblogging Career Strategist, she is a multiple award-winning resume writer and author of How to Get Hired Faster: 60+ Proven Tips & Resources to Access the Hidden Job Market.
Check out the latest Career Insider eNewsletter - August 4, 2010.
Sign up for the free weekly Career Insider eNewsletter.