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If only you were more like a cat

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Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 8:43 p.m.

If only your LinkedIn profile were more like a cat video.

You know those irresistible distractions that get sent your way, cats that play pingpong or jump 6 feet into the air to retrieve a toy. And two of my favorites are cats that play patty-cake and the baby who can't stop laughing at the cat pawing the ribbon.

You and your profile can be just as irresistible.

If only you think more like, well, a cat and the owners who videotape them.

Why do cat videos get so much attention — besides the fact that they are an occasional harmless diversion from work? They have universal appeal.

Cats and babies do well “because they transcend boundaries,” said Jessica Mason of YouTube for Good at the Social Good Summit in 2012.

She distills their popularity down to three points:

They tell universal stories. They engage regularly. (Apparently, people regularly post their amazing cat feats.) They are surprising, original and action packed.

I'm afraid, though, that most people's LinkedIn profiles don't have nearly the same effect or appeal.

In fact, they can be quite blase. And they aren't particularly surprising, original or action packed either.

For one thing, people's descriptions of their skills and attributes tend to sound like everyone else. Proof is in LinkedIn's overused professional buzzwords analysis.

After going through complex technical machinations — sorting, aggregating and translating adjectives from the descriptions of their 187 million users in the entire world — LinkedIn's data science team found that way too many people describe themselves as “creative.”

That word, they say, is the most overused buzzword in profiles globally.

The second most overused buzzword in the world is “organizational.” By the way, this word is not technically correct. If you're trying to say you're methodical and well prepared, you would be organized, not organizational.

Others on the overused list are “extensive experience,” “track record,” “innovative” and “problem solving.”

Sound familiar?

When broken down by country, the most overused word in Brazil is “experimental.” In Egypt and Indonesia, “multinational.” In France and Italy, “responsible.” In India, “effective.” In Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom, “motivated.” In Switzerland, “analytical.” In Australia, Canada, Germany, United States, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore and Sweden the No. 1 most overused buzzword is “creative.”

Getting back to cats a minute, they face fierce competition on the Internet, Mason says. That's why they need to be surprising, original and action packed.

There's even an international cat video festival in which they compete.

You, too, face fierce competition. So instead of using overworked words that make you sound like the next cat, surprise us with words that describe you like no one else. Not just in your LinkedIn profile, but in your cover letters and resume, too.


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