The favoured buzzwords of the year speak to the increased demands for verification of skills and experience.
What words are professionals using to describe themselves in 2018? LinkedIn recently released their annual list of “buzzwords”, compiled from analysing user profiles, and there have been some notable changes from last year.
“Experienced” came out on top, followed by old favourites “specialise” and “passionate”. Meanwhile, “excellent” and “focused” have disappeared completely, and “skilled” and “expert” are notable new additions. You can find the full list of buzzwords used in Australian profiles here.
Shiva Kumar, LinkedIn’s Head of Brand and Communications in Australia and New Zealand, says the shift in terminology can be linked to changing employer requirements.
“Experience is in demand, specialist skills are in demand, so that’s why people are including the words in their profile, to advertise how much they know and how much they can bring,” he says.
According to Kumar, words like “focused”, which appeared in the LinkedIn list for the past 10 years, are no longer in vogue because, ironically, they are bit unfocused or vague.
“We’re seeing a shift towards more specialised words that people can then marry up with their skills and experience,” says Kumar.
But if candidates think throwing in a buzzword willy nilly will improve their chances of landing a plum role, they should think again, advises Kumar.
Take “leadership” for example, a trait employers are seeking out more and more in candidates. “If you use the word leadership, then include some projects you’ve led, or jobs where you’ve managed a team,” says Kumar. “But don’t go overboard, you don’t want to include too much unnecessary detail or alarm bells will start to go off.”
Why “experience” trumps the lot
In times of economic uncertainty and decreased job security, employees and candidates need to verify their experience, rather than come across as easy going and authentic. It’s no longer about a self-assessment of your personality traits, hence the expulsion of the word “driven” and “organised”. Employers are apparently interested in concrete terms like “skills”, “experience” and “expertise”.
Sociolinguist Rodney Jones, a Professor from the University of Reading, says this can be attributed to societal and industry pressures.
“This type of language can be viewed as a wider comment on how society is searching for accountability and verifiability – in part, a reaction to the fake news surrounding the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit referendum,” says Jones.
What about “soft skills”?
Interestingly, there were no “soft skills” (or core skills as HRM prefers) mentioned in the top 10 list of buzzwords. Yet we often hear that they are more in demand than ever. They appear to fall into the too-vague basket (think “positive attitude”, “team player” and “self-confidence”). HRM addressed the lack of core skill referencing last year. According to DeakinCo. CEO Simon Hann, “People don’t have the confidence to claim skills that they are not able to verify”.
So how do you distinguish your core skills on your LinkedIn profile or CV without stringing together a list of no-longer-popular buzzwords? Well, if you want to highlight communication skills, present your profile with warmth and clarity. Have a “positive attitude” when you discuss challenges you faced at work and how you handled them. Articulate solutions you came up with to display your “problem solving” skills.
It all boils down to backin’ up that buzzword with evidence, or not using it at all.
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