How Not To Be ‘Responsible’ on LinkedIn

Linkedin_ChocolatesLinkedIn recently published its top 10 overused profile buzzwords for 2013. This is something the company began doing four years ago, and “responsible” tops the latest list. In fact, it was overused twice as much as any other word, including such overused holdovers from 2012 as “creative,” “effective” and “analytical.” (“Experimental,” “motivated,” “multinational” and “specialized” didn’t make the list this year.)

Here are the top 10, in descending order:

  1. responsible
  2. strategic
  3. creative
  4. effective
  5. patient
  6. expert
  7. organizational
  8. driven
  9. innovative
  10. analytical

As Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s career expert, told’s job search site leader Alison Doyle: “Building your professional brand is an important step to being successful in the workforce. But if you sound like everyone else, you won’t stand out from other professionals vying for opportunities. Differentiate yourself by uniquely describing what you have accomplished in your career and back it up with concrete examples of your work by adding photos, videos and presentations to your profile that demonstrate your best work. Providing concrete examples to demonstrate how you are responsible or strategic is always better than just simply using the words.”

LinkedIn also suggests letting others vouch for you by seeking out endorsements or recommendations from colleagues or former co-workers. And, most importantly for the purposes of this blog and Two Lakes Media Group — which celebrates the fact that “words still matter” — LinkedIn encourages the use of active language to demonstrate how, for example, “innovative” delivered results.

Granted, that’s not always easy to do; it’s much easier to simply type “innovative” and hope the person viewing your profile gets the gist of what you’re trying to convey. To help you break that habit, here are each of the 10 words on this year’s list again, followed by two alternative terms that, when used in the proper context, will look better on LinkedIn — and thus make you look better on LinkedIn.

  1. responsible > oversee > focused
  2. strategic > savvy > intelligent
  3. creative > imaginative > clever
  4. effective > resourceful > efficient
  5. patient > accommodating > flexible
  6. expert > skilled > accomplished
  7. organizational > departmental > administrative
  8. driven > motivated > resolute
  9. innovative > enterprising > inventive
  10. analytical > precise > perceptive

Spend some time reflecting on word choice when writing or updating your profile. Words exist that describe practically everything, so surely you can find a solid substitute for “expert.” When in doubt, consult an online thesaurus. This one is my favorite.

What so-called alternative words do you prefer?

(Photo by Nan Palermo)