Do you remember watching the Charlie Brown cartoons? In those cartoons, whenever the teacher would respond to one of the kids, we as the audience would hear “wa wa wa wa wa”. Much like what kids hear (or don’t hear) when their parents or teachers tell them to do something. Or, much like us when we read or hear the same buzz words over and over and over and over again!

Each year, LinkedIn releases the latest overused buzzwords that it recommends you remove from your profile if you want to stand out. And with only five to ten seconds to impress someone viewing your profile, why would you want to blend in?

The intention of this list is for you to update your LinkedIn profile but it is also a good guide to use for updating your website and social media and marketing copy. Here is the list:

  • Specialized
  • Leadership
  • Passionate
  • Strategic
  • Experienced
  • Focused
  • Expert
  • Certified
  • Creative
  • Excellent


Professionals often use these words because it can create the perception of being knowledgeable, allows you to fit in with what “everyone else is doing”, and because novices may conduct searches for people who have these terms in their profile—all of these reasons have the right intention even if it is the wrong approach to take. It’s the wrong approach because it makes you blend in and come across as a me-too brand.

So How Can You Stand Out?

Talk in first person. I, me, my, and myself are perfectly acceptable in today’s business market and especially on all social media platforms, they’re preferred! In fact, writing (or filling out your profiles) in third person sends the message that you do not manage your own profile and are not interested in building relationships. As for emojis, I personally don’t recommend them. They can be used in moderation during messaging, but leave them out of your profile and marketing materials if you want to be taken seriously.

Focus on your customer. What are the problems that your customer or team faces and how did you help them solve them? Were you a part of a team or did you manage a team? Clearly create the before and after so the viewer can relate.

Tell stories. We already established that buzz words make the viewer tune out, so focus on the story and the actions behind the buzz words. Make the viewer feel like they were right there with you when this situation was happening. Let them feel the struggle, pain, and frustration and then let them feel the reward, success, and relief.

Use these tips to reframe your expertise so your next client or next employee see you as the passionate expert that stands out instead of the me-too brand that blends in “wa wa wa wa wa”.