The top 10 resume buzzwords—and what they mean for students

LinkedIn analyzed their user profiles to identify the 10 words people around the world use most often to describe their work experience. The top 10 "global buzzwords" are:

  1. Specialize
  2. Experienced
  3. Skilled
  4. Leadership
  5. Passionate
  6. Expert
  7. Motivated
  8. Creative
  9. Strategic
  10. Focused

Over the past five years, people have used fewer words related to personal qualities, such as "successful," which was among the top 10 words until 2015. They're replacing those with words that describe skills and experiences, such as the No. 3 word, "skilled," which entered the top 10 for the first time this year.

The shift reflects a transition in the real world. As jobs become more specialized, resume language must become more specific, says Rodney Jones, a professor of sociolinguistics at the University of Reading.

The top 10 list also includes a few notable soft skills: leadership, motivation, creativity, strategic thinking, and focus.

This reflect another change in the job market—the rise of soft skills. Soft skills are becoming a key hiring qualification among U.S. employers. While employers still place an emphasis on technical prowess, they want to know that their employees have the interpersonal skills necessary to work collaboratively and ultimately grow the business.

Some colleges are tweaking academic programs to give students more opportunities to practice soft skills. For example, incorporating group projects into classwork can help students develop the interpersonal skills fundamental to building and maintaining workplace relationships. Group projects foster collaboration, delegation of workloads, and responsiveness to peer review and criticism (Faraz, LinkedIn blog, 1/24).

Read more: 3 in-demand soft skills—and how colleges can help students build them

Next in Today's Briefing

The majors least likely (and most likely) to vote in elections

Next Briefing

  • Manage Your Events
  • Saved webpages and searches
  • Manage your subscriptions
  • Update personal information
  • Invite a colleague