The Rhetoric of Employability

Tracking interesting signals, ideas and questions in the field of economics and society at large.

The most used buzzwords on LinkedIn profiles around the globe in 2014 were as follows:

  1. Motivated
  2. Passionate
  3. Creative
  4. Driven
  5. Extensive Experience
  6. Responsible
  7. Strategic
  8. Track record
  9. Organizational
  10. Expert

The irony is that many of these words—creative, passionate, driven—speak directly against the kind of intellectual laziness that they enact.

Though lists like this are common, they offer a lesson in the elusiveness of what it means to think. No catchphrase can ever bottle up and subsequently release the magical potion that is a thoughtful mind. A word baselessly asserted—least of all one mindlessly grabbed from the ether—is no substitute for structured argument and hard evidence.

LinkedIn isn’t the only hotbed for clichés and cheap rhetoric. listed “swag,” “bae,” and “Netflix and chill” as top buzzwords in their 2015 Time Capsule.

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