LinkedIn has become the world’s largest professional network and it is a fantastic tool for job seekers and for employers looking for new recruits. Whether you’re actively looking for a new job, or just looking to build a stronger network of professional contacts, your LinkedIn summary can make you stand out from the crowd. It could even be how your dream employer finds you!
Employers who are researching candidates, or looking for new employees, will be searching the internet and LinkedIn profiles are likely to be in the top few results. The summary section is the most read piece of these profiles, so it should never be left blank. We all know that first impressions count, but with just 2,000 characters (and that includes spaces!) allowed, how do you create compelling content? Here’s our tips to writing or updating your LinkedIn summary.
- Enticing summary
Start with an opening which will make people want to read on. This doesn’t mean you need to write something overly witty or clever. That often looks like you’re trying to hard anyway! Simply summarise who you are and what you do e.g. include the industry you work in, the level you work at, how many years of experience you have and examples of companies you’ve worked for. This will make people want to read on as it will quickly establish if you are someone with the skills and experience they want in their network, or within their organisation.
- Avoid jargon and over-used buzz words
When you are putting words in black and white there is a temptation to use technical industry jargon, or to rely on over-used buzz words, because you are not sure what to write. This can sound really unnatural. Think about how you would describe yourself, and what you do, if you were chatting to someone face to face, and try to use a similar language and style. This will make your summary far easier to read and will come across as much more authentic.
- Be yourself, just at your best
Just like your CV, your LinkedIn summary is a time to promote yourself. It’s important to highlight your achievements, experience and skills. Make sure it is an accurate reflection of yourself, but don’t be shy about showing what you have to offer new business contacts or potential employers. Always write in the first person, but if this makes you feel too much like you’re bragging, break it up with some external examples, e.g. people say I am…
- Balance personal with professional
Your summary is a great opportunity to express your personality and to include details about your values, passions and life experiences. Potential employers will be interested in looking at how you would fit with their organisation’s culture, as well as at your skills and experience. Keep it balanced so your personal achievements don’t overshadow your professional ones by aiming for a 70% professional, 30% personal, split. You can also express your personality and personal working style when explaining more about your professional career path. Think about including references to why you love what you do, how you got into your career or why was it something you wanted to do from a young age.
- Write for people - not robots
Many articles about writing LinkedIn summaries focus heavily on including lots key words to make it as search engine friendly as possible. There’s a danger that if you become too focussed on this you will end up repeating words unnecessarily or squeezing them in when they’re not really needed. This won’t sound natural, or make for appealing reading. As long as you include details about job roles, the industry sector you work in, the skills and qualifications you have, the key words which could help potential employers or business contacts find you will all naturally be in there.
- Break it up
Even with a limited word count, it is important to make your summary as clear and easy to read as possible. Make the key points jump out and break up the text with sub headings, for example include a heading of ‘career highlights’ and then list examples in bullet point form.
- Keep it up to date
Once you’ve gone to the effort of writing a good summary, make sure you keep it up to date. Your summary should evolve with you and your career. Don’t forget about it until the time comes to update your job or employer details. Review it regularly and add in any new achievements or highlights.
Gill is a founding Director of Pure and has worked in recruitment since 1988, including eight years of specialist recruitment experience within an international specialist recruitment company and five years working within financial services recruitment in Sydney, Australia. Gill’s approach is to provide clients and candidates with the highest quality of service. She has a consultative style which has led to her building long-term relationships with both clients and candidates.