If your LinkedIn profile includes the terms dynamic, motivated, results-oriented or innovative problem solver with a proven track record, it's probably time for a profile makeover. Before Christmas, LinkedIn released a list of the top 10 overused buzzwords in U.S. member-profiles—descriptors, LinkedIn says, that are ambiguous and really don't say anything.
"These are the buzzwords that people see frequently in media, so they're reflecting what they read and hear," says Lewis Howes, author of LinkedWorking: Generating Success on the World's Largest Professional Networking Website. "They automatically go to these words because they think it's what people want to hear. Really, though, everyone is using them, and you need to find a way to stand out."
The United States isn't alone in its affinity for buzzwords, though. People in the U.S., Canada, and Australia all overuse the phrase extensive experience, according to LinkedIn. Job hunters in Brazil, Spain, and India excessively use the word dynamic, while Brits overuse motivated. In France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, the number-one overused word is innovative.
Want to start the New Year off fresh? Here are three quick changes you can make right away to your LinkedIn profile to ensure your profile sets you apart.
1. Keep your profile simple
Read through your profile. Are you guilty of using too many buzzwords? If so, remove them and start your profile from scratch, focusing on the simplicity of what you say. When you're finished, ask yourself if a 12-year-old would understand the basis of what you do, says Howes.
"The key is to use simple words to tell others who you are, what you're doing and how you can help others," he says. "That's the message you're trying to convey, so keep it clean and make sure it's easily understood."
2. Keywords are key—revisit them often
One of the most common mistakes, says Wayne Breitbarth, author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success, is joining LinkedIn without a goal. "If you don't know why you're there, how are you going to come up with a strategy?" he says.
Breitbarth recommends taking some time to determine what you hope to accomplish in using the service and then develop a set of appropriate keywords that people could use to find you on LinkedIn. If you're an IT consultant, those words might be IT, consultant, and technology consultant. Use these keywords throughout your profile, but be sure not to overdo it, he says.
3. Add to your profile with LinkedIn add-ons
LinkedIn offers a number of Apps and labs to choose from to help pump up your profile. One that's a must-have, according to Howes: the SlideShare Presentations app, which lets you upload a video of yourself.
"If you can differentiate yourself from other business professionals, then you're going to be noticed," Howes says.
Record a one minute to 90-second video of yourself that summarizes the content of your profile. Include a quick introduction of who you are, what you do, how you can help others and the best way people can get in touch with you, whether it's via phone, Skype or e-mail, Howes says. And make sure you dress professionally, record your clip in good light, and thank everyone for visiting your page, he says.
To upload your video to LinkedIn, visit the Upload page on LinkedIn's SlideShare app. Once the video is uploaded, you'll be directed to a video page where you can share the video on LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networks.
Kristin Burnham covers Consumer Technology, SaaS, Social Networking and Web 2.0 for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham . Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline . E-mail Kristin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story, "LinkedIn: Three ways to polish your profile for the New Year" was originally published by CIO.