Does the thought of writing your LinkedIn summary cause panic? Confusion? Stress? If so, you’re not alone.
You may wonder why you need to fill this section in at all, thinking people can look at your experience and go through your entire profile to get to know you. But the truth is, your summary is often the only part of your profile that visitors will read (after your headline), so it’s important to make the most of this space and make it easy for your readers get to know you.
What is a LinkedIn summary?
Your summary is the one place you can define yourself in your own words. Not your titles, your start dates, your resume…you. With 2,000 characters available, you can tell your story and showcase who you are as a professional, what makes you interesting, and what makes you tick. This is an incredibly valuable moment for you to connect with your readers by letting them know about your real, genuine self. Seize the moment.
While you don’t need to include all of these tips in your summary, address at least a few to ensure a full story is told.
1. Watch your language.
Yes, LinkedIn is a professional platform. But you’re not trying to appeal to robots, you’re trying to speak in a way that means something to other people. Your language should reflect originality and personality rather than using lingo and jargon.
For instance, instead of beginning with:
Detail-oriented business analyst with strong problem-solving skills.
I wasn’t the kid who tossed my Rubik’s cube aside when I couldn’t figure it out—I was the kid who worked til I solved it. I love that as an adult, my job is all about tackling seemingly impossible challenges.
Most importantly, put great thought into your opening sentence. This is your hook and your opportunity to engage people to continue reading about you.
2. Write in the first person.
It’s ultimately all about generating conversation between people, so speak to people in your summary the way you would in person, which is in the first person. Third person comes off as pompous and (hopefully) you wouldn’t speak like that in conversation.
3. Know your audience.
When you write your summary, think about who you’re speaking to and what they would want or need to know about you. The audience you are MOST interested in attracting and intriguing is the one for whom you should write. Whether you choose to speak about your accomplishments or unique background or other info, remember to let your personality come through.
4. Ask for what you want.
Now that your audience has taken the time to read about you, give them a clear idea of what you’d like to see happen next. An invitation to connect is a great way to end, but depending on your goal, you may ask for something else. Do you want them to call you? Email you? Be specific and you’ll be more likely to get what you want.
5. What makes you tick? Talk.
Passion is the heart of some of the best summaries. Opening up about what you love to do adds context to your career. Think about what excites you most professionally — what drives you besides your paycheck? Some people will connect with you in a whole other way with this insight.
6. Reveal yourself.
Let people see who you are as a person, not only as a (insert job title). What is something about you that everyone compliments you on? A trait you’re known for? Try and weave these things into your summary. Round out your identity by sharing a hobby, interest, or volunteer role. Relate your outside passions to your work if you can. If you share a personal story, be sure it serves to reinforce your professional strengths.
7. Share your work experience.
But try to put your job title aside and describe what you do in simplest terms. What you solve, for whom, and how is a great way to demonstrate your skills and industry knowledge. If you’ve made career pivots or changes, connect the dots so they make sense and explain why this diversity sets you apart. Finally, cite the biggest takeaways from your experience section, looking across roles and combining accomplishments if possible, to avoid a laundry list.
Now you’re ready to make an incredible first impression on decision makers, potential clients, recruiters, other professionals and anyone else who may want to find out more about YOU. After all, you are more than merely a summation of your job experience.
Add rich media. Sometimes it’s easier to explain your impact or achievement using an image, video, or an article — add media to your profile and tee it up in your summary to help extend and convey your expertise.
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