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December 10, 2012

The most used (and overused) buzzwords in LinkedIn profiles, 2012


As is now an end-of-year tradition, LinkedIn has again released a list of the buzzwords most used by members in their profiles: the world’s most popular professional network, which has 187 million subscribers (compared with 135 million at the end of 2011, when the last ranking was drawn up), “scanned” the pages of its users from 21 countries in order to identify the terms that occur most often, and which are therefore overused.

As in 2011, the most overused word at global level is again “creative”. The adjective, which also tops various national rankings, is undoubtedly positive, but objectively a little generic: “If you want your profile to stand out, you need to distinguish it from millions of others” says Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s career expert. "If millions of people say they are creative, perhaps it’s better to set yourself apart by describing projects on which you worked and highlighting how they were unique. The creative element therefore becomes clear from the context, and is more convincing than simply saying ‘I am creative’”.

Here is a list of the most overused buzzwords in profiles for each of the countries monitored:

  • Australia: Creative
  • Brazil: Experimental
  • Canada: Creative
  • Egypt: Multinational
  • France: Responsible
  • Germany: Creative
  • India: Effective
  • Indonesia: Multinational
  • Italy: Responsible
  • Malaysia: Motivated
  • Netherlands: Creative
  • New Zealand: Creative
  • Saudi Arabia: Motivated
  • Singapore: Creative
  • South Arica: Motivated
  • Spain: Specialized
  • Sweden: Creative
  • Switzerland: Analytical
  • UAE: Motivated
  • UK: Motivated
  • USA: Creative

“Creative” tops the list in eight countries: it is no coincidence that they are all advanced economies, where the added value people can contribute probably lies in their capacity to innovate, change and think of new solutions. 

In Italy as in France, the most overused buzzword is “responsible”, which perhaps reflects the need to convey the idea of solidity and reliability. Last year, the term most used in Italy was “problem solving”. Note the use of “multinational” in two emerging economies (Egypt and Indonesia), as local professionals perhaps seek to highlight their capacity to work on a global level and deal with international players.

Here are the ten most overused words in US profiles:

  • Creative
  • Organizational
  • Effective
  • Motivated
  • Extensive experience
  • Track record
  • Innovative
  • Responsible
  • Analytical
  • Problem solving

Overall, the most overused buzzwords are “creative”, “organizational” and “effective”. The use of “responsible” and “analytical” has increased, while "dynamic" and "communication skills" that were in vogue last year have slipped out of the top ten. Finally, this year, “motivated” is used more often than “extensive experience", which topped the list in 2010; which perhaps goes to show how the buzzwords on LinkedIn profiles hold up a mirror to the market.


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