Your brand will suffer if you don’t differentiate yourself from competitors.
Today is a big day for professionals: 21 January is traditionally when people kick-start their New Year job hunt. During the past few years, we’ve seen a significant spike in activity on LinkedIn on this day, as members revamp their profiles and look to take control of their careers.
But despite all the time and effort spent honing their professional brands, too many people use the same generic, overused words and phrases – and are potentially walking into a career cliché.
If there’s such a thing as “jobseeker jargon,” these buzzwords would make up its vocabulary – and if you describe yourself as “motivated,” “creative,” or “enthusiastic”, you’re by no means alone. Other over-used words and phrases in 2014 included “passionate”, “track record”, “driven”, “extensive experience”, “wide range”, “responsible”, and “strategic”.
At LinkedIn, we often talk about creating a professional “brand,” because thinking about your profile in branding terms can be helpful. If you were launching a new product or firm, it’s unlikely you’d describe it in the same terms as a competitor organisation. Equally, if you’re hoping to secure a new role or bag a promotion, standing out is better than blending in. A few simple steps can help you to avoid “Buzzword Bingo”:
Streamline your summary. The secret to beating the bland isn’t in the pages of a thesaurus; there’s no point embarking on a buzzword purge only to replace them with terms that are just as hackneyed. A better approach is to include specific examples to illustrate your core competencies. If you want prospective employers to know you’re motivated, include results that your motivation has brought about, whether it’s driving a project or going above and beyond in your everyday role. To showcase your “creativity,” upload examples of your work so people can see it for themselves.
Turn the heat up on your headline. One of the dangers of going buzzword berserk is that it’s hard for recruiters or employers to work out what you’re really about. Don’t bury the story, and work on creating a strong, concise headline that sums up what you want people to take away from your profile. If you’re actively seeking a job (and don’t mind your employer knowing) then include it in your headline.
January and beyond. New Year updates shouldn’t mark a single peak in attention for your professional brand; spending as little as nine minutes a day on LinkedIn can have a huge impact on your network across the year. In particular, getting involved in groups means people in the industry don’t have to rely on catch-all terms to get an idea of where your expertise lies.
Showcase your skills. Listing your skills makes your profile more than 13 times more likely to be viewed on LinkedIn and is a more digestible way of explaining what you can do. Be sure to include some niche skills too, so that you appear in targeted searches.
If you’re one of the thousands heading online to begin your New Year job hunt today, take some time to consider how you want your professional brand to look – and make a pledge to banish buzzwords.
Darain Faraz works at LinkedIn.
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