LinkedIn Profile

7 Phrases To Delete From Your LinkedIn Profile

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An interesting practice seems to have cropped up among self-written social media profiles. Phrases that are taboo on resumes like, “Self-motivated team player,” are creeping back into lists of job hunter credentials on LinkedIn.

Unfortunately, these mundane, dry, and redundant phrases can make it difficult for you to maximize the power of LinkedIn in a job search. It’s also challenging for recruiters and employers to see past these overused terms when looking for your value proposition!

Phrases To Delete From Your LinkedIn Profile

However, with a little ingenuity, you can pull the lackluster phrases out of your profile and replace them with powerful writing that conveys your personal style and energy. Here are some of the worst offenders lurking among LinkedIn profiles, along with suggestions for alternative wording:

1. Accomplished Professional

If this is really true, then show (don’t tell!) your readers about it. This phrase is likely to prompt more annoyance from employers than appreciation.

Instead, consider using a sentence or phrase that speaks specifically to your achievements, such as, “Sales rep honored for closing 147% of quota during 2009 and 2010,” or, “IT Director heading multimillion-dollar outsourcing contracts at major banks.”

In addition, you can add accomplishment data (right in the Summary) that cuts to the heart of what you do and why you’re good at it, with sentences like, “Sales manager honored for coaching 3 Top Producers,” or, “Operations manager promoted for increasing production line efficiency.”

2. Results-Driven

Most companies plan on hiring someone who fits this description, and they weed out anyone who doesn’t perform to their expectations. It’s almost to your detriment to point this out in your profile.

You might try adding information that actually PROVES your drive for results, with mention of how you’ve earned a promotion in just six months, or the ways in which your performance has outpaced that of your peers.

3. Exceptional Communicator

The trouble with this phrase is it’s not only tough to prove, but that the person using it often misspells one or more words (really).

Since your LinkedIn profile gives you plenty of opportunity to demonstrate your writing skills, you’ll have the opportunity to convey complex concepts or perhaps distill a major project into a short description… both of which would speak louder about your communications skills than this phrase ever will.

4. Proven Success

Well, employers would hope so. After all, why mention your success unless you have some proof to back it up?

Here’s where you’re better off noting some metrics, as in, “Exceeded quota for 7 out of past 8 years,” “Brought company to 87% market share,” or, “Met 100% of project budget constraints despite limited resources.”

These achievements can help online readers understand the scope of your work and the reasons behind your career progression.

5. Experienced

Ahem… of COURSE you are.

Even worse, “Successful experience,” is so redundant you’re wasting space and LinkedIn keyword optimization by even thinking of these phrases.

One way to replace this word is to simply specify the number of years you’ve worked in the industry.

However, be careful here, “15 years of experience in sales,” doesn’t quite have the same ring as, “Generated 23% average over-quota revenue throughout progressively challenging sales roles.”

6. Responsible For

Just like a resume, there is no reason to clutter the landscape of your profile with a phrase that is largely assumed.

Rather than use this phrase, you can just skip to the relevant facts, “Managed $500K budget,” “Supervised staff of 10,” and save everyone’s time.

7. Microsoft Word Skills

There’s no advantage to listing basic skills that nearly all candidates possess. Unless you are seeking an entry-level role requiring clerical duties, employers will be more surprised if you don’t have these skills, than if you take the time to list them.

You’re much better off researching target jobs and noting the skills (keywords) required for the position, then using these terms to show your competency.

To summarize, back up and take a long look at your LinkedIn profile. Are you committing the same mistakes that have been appearing on resumes for years?

If so, it’s time to refresh your approach and provide specific details on the high points of your career—information others can readily relate to (and even use to hire you) from your LinkedIn profile.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Laura Smith-Proulx

Multi-credentialed executive resume writer Laura Smith-Proulx of An Expert Resume is the #1 U.S. TORI resume award record-holder and a published global expert on executive branding and LinkedIn strategies.

28 comments

  1. Deleting those “key” phrases certainly encourages one to become more creative. Surely, showing an ability to be flexible in your mode of expression can’t hurt your chances in getting hired! Great post!

  2. “OUCH” ~ You Cut Me, and I’m Bleeeeeding…LOL! Thank you for this article, Miss Laura; as, for me, it was both timely and Right-On! “Accomplished Professional” is my current LinkedIn profile header! I am also guilty of using two additional LinkedIn phrases in need of deletion; my-oh-my, is it time for an update! In actuality, it’s time for me to first ‘create’ my own profile. Initially, (years ago), LinkedIn was just an app I used to reconnect with former associates, etc. Only recently have I understood the value of this profile, and even most recently, have I understood the value of its use. Thank you for words of wisdom, aka, “Seven Phrases to Delete From Your LinkedIn Profile”.

  3. Great article but I’m in a field where I produce content for an educational field and quantifiable numbers don’t apply….any ideas?

    • Frank, how would you have the “buyer” of your services sort out the candidates for the position? If you were the hiring manager what would you be looking for?

      Since you produce content, that is quantifiable. Here are some potential metrics:

      Volume of Articles per time period (month/quarter/year.
      Accuracy of content
      Reader satisfaction with content
      Percentage of rework after review
      On time delivery of content

      All jobs have measurable outputs. Sometimes we just have to stretch our thinking.

  4. What if you are not in a job where you’d be privy to the quantifiable statistics? I see this as a tip for resumes all the time, but I have never been in a position with access to company numbers like that.

    • You do not need the company’s statistics but you do need your own. How do you or would you measure what you produce? You don’t tell us in your note what position(s) you hold.

      From a company perspective, if you/they cannot measure what the results are of your activities, then how do they know you are actually delivering anything? How would value your contribution? Every job has something it produces. The key is in learning how to measure it.

      Start with thinking about:
      What do you do more effectively than the last person?
      What do you do more efficiently than the last person?
      What is the impact on the organization if they eliminated the job? (what will be accomplished)
      Why does the job exist? It exists to do a specific task(s). I would guess

      Howard

  5. I wish someone would answer the question above. I’m not in sales or manufacturing, or in a quantifiable career. How should I write my profile, résumé and letters to reflect that the jobs I’m applying for are looking for someone with expert Microsoft office suite skills and great communication? I keep reading that employers use computerized search mechanisms to find potential candidates, so wouldn’t I want to be found when someone searches for communication skills?

    • Laura Smith-Proulx

      Beth,

      Good question! If you’re applying to a position requiring advanced expertise in Microsoft Office, then you should list skills proving your proficiency – but take it far beyond the typical MS Word or Outlook. This includes Excel, Project, Visio, or Access, as well as non-MS tools used in the course of your work.

      The point is to show hiring managers your ability to navigate, use, and learn these skills. Many people use Word in their daily tasks, so mentioning proficiency in it will not distinguish you from others. However, noting HOW you use it (reports prepared for the President, press releases, technical documentation, etc.) can make a difference.

      To your point about quantification: everyone is in a quantifiable career field. How many customers does your company serve? How many clients do you handle – and what are their budgets (or revenue impact to your company)?

      What projects do you support, and how many users do they affect? By what percentage has the company grown or consolidated since you worked there – and what impact has it had on your workload? You’ll need to look at the larger picture to add metrics.

      In addition, if you can estimate how much faster you’ve completed projects than your colleagues, the resulting percentage will show your value-add. Even if you’ve had to pick up work from a laid-off co-worker (a reality many people face), you can add metrics around the amount of extra responsibilities you have – showing how you save costs for your employer.

      These are just a few ideas. I hope they’ll spark some additional ones of your own.

      Kind regards,

      Laura

      • Thank you Laura, that was a helpful response. I work in mid level management in public higher education. I need to take out my strategic planning in non-profit management notes from grad school and remind myself of how to sell my value added. I sometimes worry that accentuating the quantities devalues the quality of my work. Yes, I help a lot of students, faculty, and staff… But what’s more important is that they frequently say they can depend on me to have the answers they need. You see my problem?

        • Beth,

          Think in terms of the “buyer”. What do you offer that they will see as a solution to their needs? It is your burden to show how you are better than the other 100 candidates that they will review. The folks that can articulate their value will be the ones that are considered. No time to be shy here. Your competitors won’t be.

          Howard

  6. LOVE the content from Careerealism.com! Thank you!

    I call this kind of stuff “white noise”. Things everyone else says. Great to avoid if you can!

  7. The advice about not using worn-out meaningless phrases in resumes or applications is excellent. However, many recruiters use these phrases themselves in their own advertisements!

    • Yes! I see many postings that list “exceptional communicator” or “exceptional communication skills” as well as proficiency in MS Office. If you’re using keywords from the ad in your application, it’s not always easy to know whether to include those terms or not.

      Then again, those are tailored applications for specific postings/companies rather than one’s profile page.

  8. I think the “stock-shot” of the HR lady selecting candidates has her shirt undone too far. I find myself offended by her blatant sexual display.

    • Annette:

      You have every right to be offended.

      Just consider that there are other possibilities to what you are looking at. For example have you considered these possibilities:

      1. She is not part of HR.
      2. She is casually working from home.
      3. She is not selecting candidates.

  9. Always good to look at the LinkedIn profile, cover letter and resume from time to time. I am regularly tweaking all three and adding what I think is pertinent information that will attract an employer. It’s really a work in progress to keep these documents sharp, polished, clear and up-to-date.

  10. I totally agree. With the social media playing a substantial role in deciding ones employment we just can’t ignore (even if we don’t like) these platforms. The seven points you mentioned can be judgmental in getting selected. It is also equally important to get an attractive headline done for LinkedIn.

  11. These are great suggestions for someone whose career is based on numbers. How should a high level administrative person promote themselves without the mundane statements?

  12. Very informative, Laura, thank you.

    Question: In this current economy trying to stand out fro the pack seems to be the best way to be recognized during the job search process but what IS the most efficient way to do so?  Cover letters (I find that most of these phrases are found in cover letters as a selling tool)?

    Any samples of an ideal cover letter NOT related to sales?

  13. Recently I heard an author and expert of LinkedIn speak and he talked about how in order to really make the most of your LinkedIn profile to tell stories providing examples of how your exceptional communication skills have helped you on the job. It makes so much sense! Now I just have to start that…

  14. Very refreshing to see all these great tips!  

    If you say that you are a great communicator, why used tired and over exaggerated verbiage to describe your features and benefits? If you want to look like an atypical selection, why use the typical buzz words and phrases. I have to admiti laughed out loud at “successful experience”… Do you really need to make note that you have an experience that was successful on a profile designed for networking?

  15. Very refreshing tips! I think people too often see those phrases as powerful adjectives, when they really just muddy down a resume or in this case a LinkedIn profile.

  16. Good article, Laura.

    An additional issue I see on LinkedIn is that people tend to list out “everything” they have ever done professionally (including the stuff they did not like and don’t want to do again).  I recommend you focus your profile on things you want more of in the future you are are attracting the “right” employers, recruiters, etc…

    • Laura Smith-Proulx

      Exactly! Just the same as you would in a resume. Otherwise, it’s difficult to identify what a candidate does best, and wants to pursue in the future (I’m a big fan of forward-looking LinkedIn Profiles).

  17. This is great advice for the breadth and depth of a resume or profile. But what about in a summary, when details are an unaffordable luxury?

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