LinkedIn: 4 Profile Phrases That Will Devastate Your Career

LinkedIn: 4 Profile Phrases That Will Devastate Your Career

It’s been said you only have one chance to make a first impression. In many cases our LinkedIn profile acts as that first impression. Our LinkedIn profile is viewed by recruiters, companies who want to do business with us and our peers.

It makes sense that our profile should be professional and a clear reflection of who we are. Sadly, many blur the line between Facebook and LinkedIn. While Facebook is used for business, it’s primarily for our friends and family. LinkedIn on the other hand is a business networking site.

It’s clear that many people are clueless as to the difference. As an example I recently reviewed a LinkedIn profile where I picked up key career information including; ‘I like mangoes” and ‘I collect things with strawberries.’ If our career objective is to be permanently unemployed this is the type of important facts that can contribute to the successful accomplishment of our goal.

Another blatant misstep involves broadcasting our junior high nickname in our profile header. It may be nice for the guys at hunting camp to know we go by ‘Digger’ or ‘Peanut,’ though it shreds any prospects of us being taken seriously as a business person. I highly doubt Melissa Gilbert goes by ‘Half Pint’ or Emmanuel Lewis as ‘Webster’ in their LinkedIn profiles.

We’re going to take it for granted that our sagacious readers know better than to pitch their careers off a mountain top and shatter their employment dreams to pieces. Instead let’s focus on 4 phrases that should be outlawed from everyone’s LinkedIn profile.

 (1) Results Oriented: It should be a given that you’re goal oriented and produce results. If you have to state that your goal is to achieve results, likely you don’t and your profile will be used by recruiters as a punch line to a joke.

(2) Driven: The word driven makes one think of an employee pulling up in a limo with a chauffeur to open their door each morning. It gives visions of Driving Miss Daisy, rather than a person who is highly focused on success.

(3) Team Player: If you’re a member of 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals or another such franchise you probably qualify to use this term, otherwise it screams I don’t play well with others and should not be hired.

(4) Competent: This word gives more of a negative connotation than anything else. A person can be ‘competent to stand trial,’ though you probably wouldn’t hire them. One meaning for competent is ‘adequate, though not exceptional.’

 In Conclusion: I consider myself a team player, who is driven and competent, while being results oriented.

  -å lights•ut company


24 thoughts on “LinkedIn: 4 Profile Phrases That Will Devastate Your Career

  1. I agree that all of these terms imply a “take my word for it”. None of these things are tangible. They are all assumed, and one must trust that these qualities exist. What belongs in the profile are examples that are specific and can be proven.

  2. The only point I would quibble with is that “results-oriented” is a bland and non-specific term. I expect salespeople to be “results-oriented”. However, that term could be contrasted with the term “process-oriented”. One may excel at fleshing out a process, while another may shine at working the process (producing “results”). Neither is intrinsically better than the other, I suppose, and anyone who’s worked in a large, complex organization will probably recognize that it takes a few process-oriented folks toiling away in order to facilitate the success of all of the results-oriented souls. So marking oneself as “results-oriented” may be a signal to the savvy recruiter that person in question is not process-oriented.

  3. Great comments by all…and one more –

    In December of 2011, LinkedIn released their “most overused words” list:
    LinkedIn just released the most overused words in its 135 million user profiles. They are:

    1. Creative
    2. Organizational
    3. Effective
    4. Extensive experience
    5. Track record
    6. Motivated
    7. Innovative
    8. Problem solving
    9. Communication skills
    10. Dynamic

    The company says to completely eliminate these in your resumes or cover letters, and instead replace them with specific examples of how you’re a problem solver, etc.
    Sound familiar? This article is merely a regurg of what has been said over and over since this LI article was published.

    If we all stop using these words, what replaces them? And won’t the same thing then happen again? C’mon- with so many poorly educated, unable-to-spell, should-not-have-graduated graduates in the marketplace, I’d be delighted to see these words, as long as they were spelled and used correctly. At least I’ll know my new hire can compose a proper email.

    Some people just have too much time on their hands.

  4. Now one has to acknowledge that when you want a job you write your resume in a way that a HR specialist understands it and not the actual future supervisor. Because the shortlisting is done by the HR specialist the applicants experiences and detailed knowledge play only a secondary role in the first shortlisting. It is more important to place keywords and phrases as well as have the spelling right.
    In favour of the HR specialist one has to say 80% of the applications are missing the requirements anyway – unfortunately in this 80% there is always afew people who would be ideal for the job but never make it to the second round because the HR specialist does not understand the described particulatities. One spelling mistake and the best applicant is out already.

  5. I disagree with this article. Anyone, if so minded, can nitpick any word that one uses to describe oneself.

    ‘Results oriented’, ‘team player’, ‘driven’ and ‘competent’ are all positive words.

    While they may be used with great frequentcy, they are valid and succinct descriptions of positive traits that employers value. The negative spin presented by the above article springs from someone whose job is based on screening OUT job applicants, rather than screening people IN. The majority of headhunters and HR recruitment people are, in my opinion, lousy at making good screening decisions on behalf of the businesses they serve. Such people should look harder at the substance, rather than the form, of applications that they have to sift through. If you do a job like this, and are easily bored by words that crop up many times, and you are not looking hard enough for the unique substance of the person behind the CV, then you should probably do another job. It is worth remembering, if you are a university drop-out head-hunter, that the vast majority of the CVs you have the privilege of screening through belong to people far more accomplished than you. That is why they generally have a better CV than you do.

  6. So tired of reading “I am a creative, dynamic, self driven and results-oriented person with strong and effective communication skills.”

  7. And the reason why these terms are often used, is of course….because all the “How to make a CV” manuals recommend you to do so.

    Like with anything in life, it takes practice and experience to know these mistakes.

  8. Interestingly enough, you can find those same phrases listed in almost every job description companies put out there. So it is no wonder that people put that on their CV/Resume, they think it is what employers want to hear.

    1. You will also find these on many of the lists of words to use in your resume. So use or not use? If in the job description, I would include. If not, up to you.

      1. Stick to results oriented adjectives – not superfluous terms (this is from one in the staffing industry) Good article –

  9. Except, of course, when the JD asks for a driven, team player who is goal oriented. These are the words which the screening software will be searching. They will likely be the words that will get the resume noticed. Otherwise, I enjoyed reading your blog.

  10. There is nothing much in digging on a word itself. Though every word in English carry an excellent verbal meaning, it is not really carried for a CV as it is just an expression of ones capacities and skills.

    When it came to Human Resource Management from Personnel Management, lot of researches are done on the words to be used in CV. It is just a propaganda which is adhered by some HR Managers, which is implemented to filter candidates and create more openings to Resume writers.

    Can any one agree that by substituting any of these words will increase ones capacity?

    1. I completely agree. this is click bait BS crap. the article is utter drivel.

      a) there have been no peer reviewed (just the idea of HR people doing ‘studies’ let alone peer reviewing anything is laughable) studies showing that use of these terms leads to not being hired.

      b) conversely there is no study that the demonstrates that hiring someone who uses these terms leads to a “bad hire.”

      Therefore, this article is self-serving conjecture based upon a specious premise written by a hack hoping to garner clicks.


  11. Nowadays I only recruit sales superstars. However, when I used to recruit IT people these phrases and words used to make me laugh alongside “solution-oriented” and “customer focused.”

    After all almost everyone puts a massive amount of spin on their CVs.

    I use a completely different approach now so I don’t wade through CVs until after I whittle the sales superstars applicants another way

  12. I think this is a great article. As someone who spends a lot of time sifting through resumes, I know the painful bore of reading another template resume with the keywords thrown in. However, I would never dismiss someone because they use these phrases. If they are used well and in context, rather than just thrown in to the text then the candidate might make it to round two.

  13. Team Player and Results Oriented are the only phrases here. The others are words. I think that either should be used in the right context honing in to further describe a particular set of skills. I also think that nothing in this world is an be-all, end-all for anything….our world is dynamic, not static, so openess to change and adaptability is the most important. If these words, or phrases are used alone as a description of who the person is, then it might prove to be hurtful, but only to a certain degree…

  14. Well, no. If we are to use your logic, nobody is anything they say they are. Instead, they must lie and say they are something they are not, so others will believe they are, what they say they are not.

    Now, that’s just a mouthful.

  15. Excellent notes, I would love to hear your comments about my CV. Thank you

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