Like your resume and your cover letter, you know that a LinkedIn profile is must-have in your job search. It’s not only a great platform for job seekers to showcase their work, but it also has the added benefit of having recruiters crawling all over it.
So, it makes perfect sense for people to optimize their profile’s potential. However, a surprising number of people ignore the most flexible and, arguably, most useful part: the “Summary” section.
I get it, though. It’s open-ended, and a blank canvas can be scary. To help you get a sense of what you can—and should—get across with your summary, here are three fantastic lessons (plus three great examples) to learn from.
1. Make Sure Your Personality Shines Through
From Jenny Foss
My business cards say such things as career strategist, recruiter and resume writer.
But when you get right down to it, I’m much more—I’m a marketer, an entrepreneur, a blogger, a social media strategist and a technical geek (ask me anything about robots, 18-wheelers or applicant tracking systems, seriously).
I’m also a big believer in the power of branding.
I believe that we, as humans, don’t buy “stuff.” We don’t make decisions based on features and benefits. We make decisions based on emotion, “gut feel” and brand promise.
We buy when we are moved. We buy when we are captivated and engaged to the point that we drop whatever it is we’re doing and say, “Oh, heck yes. I need me some of THAT.”
And so I teach people and companies how to create that reaction. I teach job seekers and corporations seeking new talent how to communicate their brands in memorable, engaging, and high personality ways, so that they will attract the right audiences and move them toward their core goals.
Specialties include: Job search strategy, career coaching, resume writing, recruiting, LinkedIn makeovers, copy writing, corporate outplacement, public speaking/presentations, social media marketing and branding. I’m also very good at Scrabble and I make a mean margarita.
I’m right over at firstname.lastname@example.org if you ever want to talk careers, job search or marketing. You can also find me at JobJenny.com.
Jenny Foss’ summary is unbelievable. It manages to cram so much personality into 250 words (or less!) that I feel like she’s a close friend, even though I’ve never met her before. Yes, LinkedIn is a professional social network, but that doesn’t mean you have to speak in the third person and drone on and on about how many years of experience you have.
Secondly, Jenny (see, I think I’m on a first name basis with her) has carefully woven in a pitch for her services without make you feel like you’re being sold something. The summary, rather than the experience section, is the perfect place for you to let people know what you have to offer. In fact, you don’t necessarily need to go into your experience too much since it’s right below the summary. Instead, dive further into your beliefs, motivations, or values—the intangibles that are generally harder to convey in your experience.
2. Make Sure You Have a Strong Pick-up Line
I’m not your average editor.
Of course, I have strong writing skills, geek out over traffic spikes, and proofread my own text messages. But I’m also a project manager, community builder, and team leader (and pretty good party planner, so I’ve been told).
My background, while extensive, isn’t traditional. As editor-in-chief and first official employee of The Muse—the career and job search platform that helps millions of people figure out what they want to do and thrive once they get there—I have built our publication, The Daily Muse, and fast-growing community from the ground up.
In the past three years, I’ve recruited an incredible team of 500+ freelance writers, career experts, and lifestyle contributors, garnered awards such as Forbes Top 100 Sites for Women and Top 75 Sites for Your Career, and created editorial content that readers truly, truly love. I’ve also significantly increased our audience (4 million UVs/month) and managed syndication partnerships with Time, Inc., Mashable, and Forbes, to name a (notable) few.
Currently, I oversee all digital content strategy and creation, including 50+ articles/week, videos, branded content, and The Muse’s education platform, Muse U. Previously, I worked at a university of a different sort, managing print and digital communications and editorial strategy for the George Washington University Medical Center.
In a nutshell, my passion for content is coupled with a love for big-picture planning and daily operational management. I’m not the editor who just wants to write. I’m the editor who actually wants to edit—and plan, ideate, and lead. This is what I do best and love most.
When I first saw Adrian Granzella Larssen’s summary, the idiom, “hook, line, and sinker,” came to mind. There was no way I wasn’t going to read the entire thing after that first line. If you want someone to take the time to go through your whole summary, consider writing an irresistible opening line, and then tying everything back to it. An old trick perhaps, but it works.
As the Editor-in-Chief of The Muse, it’s no surprise that Adrian has racked up some impressive accomplishments. That’s not what makes her summary so interesting, though. It’s actually the numbers that really bring the huge scope of the work she does to life. Don’t underestimate what a few numbers can do to highlight your skills and experiences.
3. Make Sure You Connect All the Dots
From Scott R. Murray
I got my start writing poetry and teaching fiction. I’m good with words and I get stories. Need a website that works, a brand that resonates and social media that's human? I can help.
I have over six years of experience in higher ed and academic non-profit communications. I’ve also clocked five years of grad school, which totals thousands of writing hours. I’ve honed clever, clear and concise, so I can create content that informs, delights and inspires.
Teaching taught me the most: to work with people where they are, figure out their needs and show up prepared to add value to their lives. It takes passion and guts to run a classroom, imagination and humor to keep folks checked in, and empathy and patience to provide useful feedback.
I now employ these strengths in managing successful content processes, developing digital resources, and connecting virtual communities.
Below are links to projects I’m proud of: website collaborations, social media campaigns I’ve managed, news articles I’ve written, and shout-outs my work has earned. See something you like? I’m an InMail away. (Or a tweet @strangewander.)
I frequently present with Scott on how to best use LinkedIn, and we always use his summary as a model. His paragraphs are pithy, with each serving a clear purpose. Scott has a pretty unconventional background for a communications guy, but somehow, he’s managed to tell one cohesive story connecting his writing, teaching, social media savvy, and communications expertise.
That’s exactly why I constantly show off his summary and refer to it. The summary is the place for you to connect the dots of your experience—and this is an example of exactly that done incredibly well.
There are plenty of good LinkedIn summaries out there, but these three just happen to be my favorites. They also happen to be longer than many. You might not necessarily need to write as much to get your story across. But, whatever you do write, remember to imbue some of your personality, have a hook, and tie it altogether. It’ll make all the difference.
Photo of happy woman courtesy of Shutterstock.
Lily Zhang serves as a Manager of Graduate Student Professional Development at the MIT Media Lab where she works with a range of students from AI experts to interaction designers. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author