Make a strong first impression on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the place online where you can connect to other professionals in your field and build your network. It's an essential tool for your career ‒ and job search ‒ so you need to make the most of it. That means creating a detailed, comprehensive LinkedIn profile ‒ including a profile summary.
Also considered your 'About' section, your LinkedIn profile summary is the space on your profile where you introduce yourself to the digital world. It is your opportunity to share who you are as a professional, what makes you unique, important accomplishments and even some of your personality. You can also take advantage of key search terms that will increase the likelihood that your profile will turn up in search results. You can consider it a less formal version of the personal statement you include on your CV.
Because your LinkedIn profile summary is your first chance to make an impression on the social networking site, you should make it the best it can be. Take these steps to create an introduction that makes you can stand out.
Target the audience you want
A hundred different people may end up reading your LinkedIn summary, but that doesn't matter if they're not the right people. Ask yourself a simple question: Who do you want to read your summary and, crucially, what do you want from them?
For example, if you're on the hunt for a new role, you may be targeting recruiters and business owners. In that case, you should be writing a LinkedIn summary that sells you and your skills. Much like your CV, this brief overview needs to show people that you absolutely have what it takes to take the next step in your career.
Before you even dream of writing that first sentence, consider who will be reading it. Having a clear audience will help you find a core message and avoid a long-winded, boring description. Instead, you'll be able to write something truly compelling.
Be authentic, honest and concise
It should go without saying that lying on your LinkedIn profile summary is a recipe for disaster. For one thing, everyone can see your page and someone can easily call you out on those little 'white lies' you're telling. Plus, there's the fact that you have to back everything you write up with facts and evidence.
So be yourself! It might sound cliche, but it works. When writing your LinkedIn summary, it's important that you are authentic and honest about your experience. Avoid writing too much though ‒ no one wants to read your life story. Save those minor details for your autobiography instead.
Let your personality shine through
The recruiter reading your LinkedIn profile summary has not met you face to face. They have no idea of who you are or how very charming you may be. This is where your LinkedIn profile summary differs most from your CV, because you can let some of that award-winning personality shine through in your writing. This technique is used in the best LinkedIn profile summaries, and it can really work wonders when you get it right.
Take a look at this example. Craig Japp, a solution leader, knows how to write a summary that really flows. Here's part of his LinkedIn profile summary:
'After the realization set in that I will not be making it as a pro footballer or Wimbledon great (I wasn't close), I spent many evenings trawling the local press and digital job boards seeking the dream role that was out of reach. So it is no surprise that I now work in an industry which rewards me for helping people realize their potential and setting them on their way to achieving great things.'
Whilst you may think that starting with a joke is risky business, Craig manages to make it work. Whether you're a comedic genius or just a warm and friendly person, you need to show that to the reader in your writing.
Note: The key word here is 'show'. Don't make the mistake of writing: 'I'm a funny, warm person…' in your summary. Let it come through naturally!
Explain what you do (briefly)
What exactly do you do, anyway? Your regular job duties may cover a whole range of things, but you shouldn't babble in your LinkedIn profile summary. Instead, condense what it is that you do down into a manageable paragraph. Be concise and clear. The best summaries give a taste of the person's expertise and previous roles without getting too bogged down in the everyday, nitty-gritty details. Dedicate just a couple of sentences to your role and be clear.
Show off your talents
You know your profession better than anyone else, right? Well, then show that to those who look at your LinkedIn page. For example, educator Adam Buchbinder does an excellent job of showing off his talents and knowledge in his LinkedIn summary:
'I am an educator passionate about leveraging podcasts to improve listening skills and narrow educational disparities. Research shows that we spend up to 90 percent of our time listening but only 10 percent of us listen effectively. This has serious consequences on students' long-term educational attainment and career readiness.'
By departing knowledge in the form of statistics, Adam shows that he has done his research and knows his stuff. These are qualities that recruiters are looking for, and so he's certain to get attention from the right people.
Master the art of a 'closer' line
Now that you've got to the end of your LinkedIn profile summary, what is the takeaway message you want to leave with the reader? This final closing line should be both neat and memorable. Salesperson Micah Day nails it with this one-liner:
'My superpower is my grit and my personal mantra is “Never leave anything to chance.”'
Rather than leaving the reader with the bland 'Connect with me now!' message, Micah decided to add a little pizzazz to her profile. This sentence shows that not only is she driven and hard-working, but that she also has a creative, humorous side too.
Make an impression with your LinkedIn summary
Elevator pitch, CV personal statement, LinkedIn profile summary ‒ these are all different ways through which you introduce yourself as a professional. On LinkedIn, that means a careful balance of professionalism and personality, all in the endeavour to make someone interested in learning more about you. With the right LinkedIn profile summary, connecting with HR managers and industry professionals alike will be a breeze.
Whilst your LinkedIn profile will help you connect with professionals, a compelling CV is essential to your job search. Find out if your CV makes the grade with our free CV review!
This article was updated in September 2020 by Lauren Settembrino.