Phrases to Avoid in Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is the world’s largest business networking site, with more than 15 million active job listings and millions of job seekers visiting the site weekly. Overall, LinkedIn has more than 930 million users.
The site has become the top place for recruiters and employers to look for potential job candidates. In fact, over 90 percent of hiring managers use it for this reason.
LinkedIn is the place to show off your skills and experience to hiring managers and recruiters. So what should you do on LinkedIn to be successful?
Josh Waldman, author of “Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies,” says, “as a job seeker, your primary focus is to stand out of the crowd on LinkedIn and be seen.”
One way to do this is by using clear, well-defined text in your profile, detailing your work history and achievements without resorting to ambiguous or meaningless phrases. Here’s a list of phrases that you shouldn’t use in your LinkedIn profile.
Don’t Highlight the Table Stakes
Recruiters will automatically assume that job candidates have at least a basic proficiency with word processing – after all, they probably used it to write a cover letter to apply for the job. Also, most office workplaces these days use spreadsheets.
If you have intermediate or advanced skills in specific Microsoft programs, such as PowerPoint or Excel, definitely highlight these skills in your profile.
Don’t Date Yourself
This is a very fast way to date yourself. If you are an older worker, a recruiter can do a quick assessment of how old you may be from your LinkedIn profile. Despite age discrimination being illegal in hiring it is, in fact, rampant.
Kerry Hannon, the author of “Getting the Job You Want After 50 For Dummies,” said in a Mic interview, that she tells her clients to “strip their age from their resumes and only include the most recent 10-15 years of jobs.” She said that older workers are consistently discriminated against.
This is especially true for workers in their 50s and 60s. Many employers feel that they will need to pay a lot for someone in this age bracket, with their long experience. They also may be worried that the older person may retire in a few years and leave a new vacancy to fill.
Don’t Be Vague About Your Wins
This phrase that doesn’t really mean much, and may mean different things to different employers. Your current boss might define success as meeting your sales quotas every quarter. Another company might define success as exceeding quotas.
Put specific action words in your profile to show past accomplishments. For example, say when you exceeded goals and targets, or if you saved money in your department. Saying “brought project in 20 percent under budget,” or “consistently finished projects well before deadline,” helps recruiters to clearly see your past career highlights and better understand how you can benefit a new employer.
Don’t Be Vague About Your Ability to Communicate
This one is really hard to prove. Unless you actually work in a communications role, you’re expecting recruiters to blindly accept your word.
Best to use your LinkedIn profile to demonstrate that you’re an effective communicator by avoiding cliches and vague phrases, and by using clear, concise language.
If you want outside testimony from past co-workers or managers, request they endorse you for certain skills in the Skills and Endorsements section of your profile. Even better, LinkedIn offers space for you to upload videos of any past presentations.
Don’t Be Obvious
Companies want to hire people who are driven, motivated and results oriented. You’re only stating the obvious if you use this phrase. You would be more convincing if you can prove that you are driven, instead of simply stating that you are.
Can you show how your performance topped that of other team members? Did you increase customer numbers? Did you beat your KPIs consistently every quarter? Were you promoted on a regular basis?
These are all ways to demonstrate clearly that you are motivated and driven, without needing to use those words.
Don’t Be Meaningless
This is another meaningless statement. If you’ve held down a steady job, and managed to do it well, a recruiter or hiring manager will assume you’re a professional. A statement like this can actually annoy people reading it because you are pointing out the obvious.
Consider using a list of past accomplishments to highlight just how well you have done in your profession.
Putting information such as industry awards or recognition you’ve received is a better way of showing how much of a professional your peers consider you to be.
Also, don’t forget metrics. Numbers rule when showing off your achievements. Consider using data that proves your professional accomplishments, such as “Sales Manager who grew customer base by 30 percent in all territories,” or “Led customer service team with 150 percent increase in staff retention over previous year.”
Build up a network of peers and managers on LinkedIn who can vouch for just how professional you are and how you’ve progressed in your career.
Don’t Be Vague About Your Social Skills
These days, you can’t simply state that you are a team player: you need to prove it. Employers are increasingly seeking people who have strong social skills.
People like this will be in higher demand in the future, and workers who have both strong technical and team skills will get higher wages, according to research by David Deming, a professor of education and economics at Harvard. “Today’s job market favors those who have the skills to be good team players,” he said.
This means that learning to do the job will be equally as important as getting along with fellow employees. In fact, says Deming, getting along with other team members may be a determining factor in how well you learn to do a new job.
So how do you prove you are a solid team player? One way is to ask past co-workers and managers to post recommendations on your LinkedIn profile, highlighting your social skills. Another is to post any personality assessments you may have taken (such as a DISC Behavior Inventory or Myers-Briggs) that clearly show you are really as good as you say you are with people.
Don’t Be Vague About Your Past Actions
This phrase is too vague and should be replaced with stronger action words that actually describe what you did in past job roles.
If you managed a team, oversaw product development or supervised a department, then a recruiter can safely assume that you were responsible for all these things happening. Better to use specific language — managed, supervised, led, developed, etc. — that illustrates better just what it was that you actually did.
Don’t Shine a Light on Your Job Status
This statement can be a red flag that you are currently out of work and looking for a job. Sadly, many employers are reluctant to hire someone who isn’t working, because they assume that you must not have been a top employee if you were let go or laid off, according to recruiter Harry Urschel, who blogs at job-hunt.org.
Much better to use the phrase “Open to new opportunities,” which could indicate that you are in a job but seeking to make a change. However, if you are currently employed, you may not want to alert your company that you’re planning on leaving.
You’ll find several popular hashtags on LinkedIn that indicate that you’re open to moving on, but in a more subtle way, such as #ONO (Open to New Opportunities). Or turn on LinkedIn’s Open Candidates feature for your profile. This will discreetly signal recruiters that you are actively job-hunting.
Or, you can trust what Robert Hellmann, a career consultant, wrote in Forbes: "Recruiters are always searching LinkedIn for candidates that match positions they need to fill. Even if your profile doesn’t show you’re looking for work, they will still reach out to you to see if you might be interested."
Don’t Act Like an Amateur
Never use this phrase. It’s redundant and somewhat amateurish.
“Your track record should be apparent in your profile,” said Aaron Taube, in Business Insider. By detailing each position you’ve held, as well as your responsibilities and successes, you are clearly demonstrating your track record without explicitly saying so.
Don’t Oversell Yourself
Very few people are truly unique. By using this expression, you are, in essence, claiming to be another Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or Steve Jobs. Worse, you may give a recruiter the impression that you’re a diva and not easy to work with.
Remember, in coming years, employers will be seeking people who work well with others, fit together as part of a team and have strong social skills, not big egos.
The former CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner, said that what all employers actually want most right now in all new hires is solid “written [and] oral communication, team-building and leadership skills.”
Really, Don’t Oversell Yourself
As with the previous phrase about being unique, there are few real game changers in the world. That title is reserved for people like Jack Ma, Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk.
What you can do instead on your Linkedin profile is spell out the ways in which you have made an impact in past roles and created change for past employers. Those details will impress a hiring manager, as he or she can see that you are someone who goes beyond a job role and tries to have a larger impact across a company. Those are the kinds of people that recruiters are looking for.