How many times have you read someone’s LinkedIn bio and wondered, “What in the world are they talking about?” It’s full of jargon, terms, and acronyms foreign to anyone outside the bio subject’s industry.
“The Curse of Knowledge” is what Chip and Dan Heath call this “symptom” in their book, “Made to Stick.” To an industry insider, these terms are common, used daily, and understood by all involved. So much so, that to anyone outside the industry, it’s confusing and just plain gibberish.
In the above picture, you see typical everyday terms used by human resource professionals (HR), eCommerce, Accounting, Marketing Communications (MarComm), and Chief Executives (any Chief-level role is considered a “C-Suite” professional). Were you lost in translation looking at the picture? While Google can help define the terms, people wanting to hire you or work with you won’t take the time to Google it. Instead, they’ll move on to the next bio whose writer makes things easy to understand.
How can you avoid the “Curse of Knowledge?” Have a family member or non-industry friend read your bio BEFORE you put it on LinkedIn or other social networks or your book jacket or use it as a speech introduction. (Can you imagine a person introducing you who is not familiar with the jargon?) If your mom has no idea what you’re talking about, you’ve got “The Curse of Knowledge” and need to reword the bio.
If you must use some jargon, spell it out first, then use the acronym afterword. Like this, Full-Time Employee (FTE). This is actually a cool benefit, because you’re using good keywords (think search terms) twice. That way, depending on who’s conducting the LinkedIn search, you’ll have a greater chance of getting the call.