- The Washington Times - Monday, December 26, 2011

For job seekers, 10 popular words could be making their resumes “invisible.”

LinkedIn, a social network for professionals, released a study this month that shows the most overused buzzwords that tend to make your resume “blend in,” rather than stand out.

Stay away from such overused terms as “creative,” “extensive experience,” “motivated,” “innovative,” “problem-solving” and “dynamic,” the site warned.

“There is nothing wrong with these key words,” said Jeff Kagan, a wireless and telecommunications industry analyst based in Atlanta. “The only problem is, everyone uses them.”

Many of these qualities are already expected from professionals; therefore, they go without saying, LinkedIn spokeswoman Krista Canfield said.

“It’s really not helping you stand out,” she said. “If there are things that are typically going to be a given for a professional, then it’s really not helping you. It’s probably not doing you any favors.”

LinkedIn started measuring buzzwords in 2010. The social network reviewed more than 135 million professional profiles from its members in 2011. The top three words — and four of the top 10 — on this year’s list are new.

“Creative” is the most popular word used on resumes in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia. So while people think that being “creative” sounds good, it more likely will push a resume to the bottom of the pile.

In some cases, it can even make a positively bad impression.

“I don’t think there’s too many people looking for creative accountants out there,” Ms. Canfield said.

Other new buzzwords on LinkedIn’s list include “organizational,” “effective” and “communication skills.”

“Organizational” is the second most popular word used on U.S. resumes, while “effective” ranks third in the U.S. and also is the top word on Indian resumes.

“What’s going to be more useful for you rather than saying, ‘I’m effective,’ is to actually spell that out,” Ms. Canfield explained. “Talk about the projects you’ve worked on that actually demonstrate you’ve been effective. As a salesperson, have you met your quota six months in a row, or have you brought new clients in? They’re probably going to go with the person that’s being more specific.”

Many job seekers aren’t getting the message. Six of the top 10 buzzwords in the U.S. remained from last year’s list, although last year’s top five all dropped spots in the rankings.

“Extensive experience,” last year’s most popular buzzword, came in fourth. “Motivated” and “innovative,” last year’s third and second most popular buzzwords, dropped to sixth and seventh, respectively. “Dynamic” fell to 10th from the fifth spot last year.

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