Benign to five

Top 10 words in Australian LinkedIn profiles (and why they're wrong)

Not long ago, LinkedIn, which must have missed the article where I called it a "quag of frauds, oversharers and time-wasters" sent me a list of the most commonly used words on  profiles of their Australian users.

They are as follows: experienced, specialise, passionate, skilled, leadership, motivated, expert, strategic, successful, creative. "Drive", "outcomes" and "scale" must have been erroneously removed from the data.

If we assume "experienced" is used predominantly as a descriptor, that's seven adjectives, one verb, one noun and an in-betweener ("expert").

Now, if you're a Benign to Five devotee, you'll know I'm not shy about liberally scattering adjectives and adverbs across my column like truffles over a pasta dish. At first glance you think "There are too many! Surely they'll overpower the dish. But on closer inspection ... magnifico!

Adjectives and adverbs, however, when not employed by a master, often come across as unpalatable, or even obnoxious. 

Think of the zillions of companies who've borrowed Apple's "Think different" tagline pattern from 1997 and now demand that you, "Eat interesting", "Drive sexy", "Drink gorgeous", etc.  Stella Artois tried to replace the adjective with a noun - "Be legacy" - and it was even worse.

In the case of LinkedIn, it's not some multinational deploying adjectives to create nonsensical instructions, but professionals offering earnest, heavily-varnished opinions of themselves. Here, the adjective is reprehensible because a person's enthusiastically positive verdict on their own level of success, motivation or skill is rhetorically laughable.

I love adjectives. But they're of limited value on LinkedIn. Stick with verbs. Here are some safe ones: swashbuckle, incandesce, lament, entreaty, fulminate, masticate, altercate, rabble-rouse, jangle. Magnifico! 

Jonathan Rivett is an experienced, passionate, motivated, strategic, creative and highly successful freelance writer at