How to write a powerful LinkedIn summary

The most important part of your LinkedIn profile may be the headline (learn more here) but a very close second is the summary section. This is the first thing people see when they click through to your page and it\’s vital that it makes a stellar first impression on recruiters and hiring managers.

I’ve been writing profiles for clients since LinkedIn first launched and along the way I’ve learned a few key pointers for making them work. Here are four of my best tips for creating a summary that really grabs attention.

Write in the first person

Many people write their LinkedIn summary in the third person, meaning they write about themselves as if they were someone else. For example:

Louise Fletcher is a former HR executive, professional resume writer and President of Blue Sky Resumes. Prior to starting her business, Louise …

I suppose they do this because we have seen professional bios written this way and it sounds like the way we’re supposed to write. But this type of bio doesn’t work well on LinkedIn for a few reasons.

First, communication on the web has always been more informal than print communication. Second, everyone reading your LinkedIn profile knows you wrote it yourself (unlike a professional bio which is generally written for you by someone at your company). Therefore, it looks a little odd to write about yourself in the third person. Lastly, third-person summaries put a wall between you and the reader at the very time you want to make a connection.

So instead of this:

Louise Fletcher is a former HR executive, professional resume writer and President of Blue Sky Resumes. Prior to starting her business, Louise …

My bio should read:

I’m a former HR executive, professional resume writer and President of Blue Sky Resumes. Prior to starting my business, I …

(For quick and easy LinkedIn summary templates to follow, click here.)

Communicate some of your work style and personality

It’s important to tell people a little bit about the way you work.

First, it helps communicate your strengths, and second, it injects a little bit of personality into your profile.

As an additional benefit, describing how you work can be a turn-off to employers where you wouldn’t fit –- and this saves you from wasting time on interviews with companies you wouldn’t choose to work for.

So, for example, you might say, “I do my best work when I’m challenged and then left to figure out the solution on my own” or “colleagues describe my leadership style as high-energy and entrepreneurial. If there is a new and better way to do something, I’ll find it.”

Include results in your LinkedIn summary

Many people think they should save results for the job description section of the profile, but it’s very effective to include them in your summary because some recruiters won’t read your whole profile.

I like to think of the LinkedIn summary as a mini resume – basically a snapshot of your key selling points – and past results are one of your most effective selling points.

If you don’t want your current employer to know you’re looking for a new job, you may not want to sound overly self-promotional in your summary. But this is easy to avoid. Simply phrase your results as a team effort (“since joining XYZ, my team has increased sales by 12% or “I am proud to have contributed to increasing productivity 5% over the prior year”) or soften the impact (by saying something like “I am thrilled to have been given the chance to improve system reliability by 25% in the first year.”)

However you do it, choosing a few select results to emphasize will really strengthen the impact of your summary.

Express passion for your current/last job

All recruiters and employers want to hire people who are enthusiastic about their work. Even if you hate your job and your boss, you must not show it! Instead, describe the things you like about your current position (or, you’re unemployed, describe the things you enjoyed about your last job).

You might worry that if you sound happy recruiters won’t contact you, but this is not true. In fact, they’ll be more likely to get in touch because they love to ‘poach’ good employees away from other companies.

In summary

Following these four guidelines will ensure that your LinkedIn summary attracts the attention you deserve, and makes a strong impression on anyone reading it. For more help with LinkedIn, be sure to sign up for our free email series “Get Hired Using LinkedIn.”

If you’re currently working on your LinkedIn summary, these examples and templates will make it really easy.

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