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Buzzword makeover

Buzzword makeover
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First Published: Thu, Dec 23 2010. 09 13 PM IST
Updated: Thu, Dec 23 2010. 09 13 PM IST
Dear dynamic, motivated readers of this column, I have received some alarming news last week.
Now, remember the time, years ago, when you made your first resume or curriculum vitae or bio-data or whatever it is that you sent to companies? In all probability you were helped by father, uncle, friend, Internet café operator or some such intimate person. They must have told you that resumes are of vital importance. That a good one got you great jobs, while a poor one led to ridicule, unemployment and perhaps even a life of violent crime or cricket administration.
Then they sat with you and talked you through the structure. Firstly, your name in large block letters. Then address and contact details. Then a brief paragraph called “objective” in order to impress the prospective employer:
“My objective is to set new benchmarks when it comes to Indian corporate stewardship. And after nurturing my organizational skills in your esteemed organization, I hope to spread more independent wings and ripen as an entrepreneur. This is why I think I am a perfect fit as a provisional temporary summer intern in your despatch office in Vikhroli.”
Eagle-eyed employers use this “objective paragraph” to identify resumes with good potential for high positions in the one-sided paper pile next to the Xerox machine.
And so on and so forth. Everything from educational details to 5th standard shot putt championship is then packaged inside a Microsoft Word template.
This is the crude implement with which we started our careers.
Unfortunately, dear reader, it appears that when it comes to resumes and such professional profiling, our intellectual development stopped at that very moment in that Internet café. How do I know this?
Last night, the insightful people at LinkedIn.com sent me some data.
LinkedIn, as you no doubt know already, is a matrimonial site for corporate people. The site helps you upload detailed professional profiles. And then network with people who have similar likes, such as “marketing” or “green tech” or “strategy” or the highly popular “salary”.
It helps recruiters find prospective employees and even do background checks. To this extent, the site has an interesting testimonial system where users can vouch for each other’s abilities.
Arvind: “Sidin is an innovative, dynamic and motivated individual who has a passion for people. He is a joy to work with and is well liked by his co-workers. But most of all, he has a superb ability to deliver. Sidin is an excellent gynaecologist.”
Now Arvind discreetly asks Sidin to leave him a testimonial in return. Sidin: “Arvind often came to office on time. He also leaves excellent testimonials. I highly recommend him for some things.”
As you can see, this has enriched both their profiles.
In fact, a few months ago, this column told you how to make impact-ful LinkedIn profiles. But sadly very few of you have been listening. Recently, the LinkedIn analytics team decided to analyse the profiles of all their members, on an international and national basis. One of their aims was to figure out what words people used most when describing themselves.
The results are quite disturbing. And have several levels of irony in them.
Look at the most commonly used buzzword. In four of the 11 countries for which I received data, the most commonly used term in a LinkedIn profile is “Innovative”! (I am both crying and laughing a bit now. Like when you walk into a lamp-post and other people notice.) “Innovative” was the No. 1 word in France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. (Maybe it is a European thing.)
Tied for second place, with three top-ranks each, were two words. “Dynamic” was numero uno in Spain, Brazil and India. (Emerging cum submerging economies?) “Extensive experience” topped it in the US, Canada and Australia. (The only trend I can see here is substandard cricketing ability.) And the 11th country was the UK, with “Motivated”.
Let us focus on India for a bit.
The top 10 over-used buzzwords in Indian LinkedIn profiles are: Dynamic, Innovative, Extensive experience, Team player, Motivated, Proactive, Proven track record, Value add, Skill set and Out-of-the-box.
This exhibits an utter lack of imagination. And it looks like many of you are still using things from your first resume made way back in that Internet café.
There was a time when Out-of-the-box meant something. That was in the 1990s. Please stop now. And don’t even get me started on Proactive, which makes you sound like upmarket yoghurt or shampoo. Or yoghurt shampoo.
Your profiles need some radical making over. And you guys need to come up with new exciting terms. I will set the ball rolling by suggesting some tweaks on those clichéd old buzzwords: “Innovative with audits”, “Proven track record in not getting phone tapped”, “Out-of-the-box when it comes to service tax payments”, “Full spectrum skill set” and “Dynamic ability to import near-duplicates from China”. I have also coined an exciting new word to encapsulate the last one: “Chynamic”.
Kindly use these with restraint. I eagerly look forward to seeing fresh profiles on Monday.
Cubiclenama takes a weekly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at cubiclenama@livemint.com
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First Published: Thu, Dec 23 2010. 09 13 PM IST