People turn to LinkedIn for several reasons. The most obvious one is job hunting. Even with a labor shortage, it still often feels like an uphill battle to get a new job. That’s especially true when you wish to change careers or advance into management. After all, lots of people want to do this, and you need to set yourself apart from the competition to clinch the deal. Recruiters are always looking for the next great candidate.
Alternately, a B2B salesman might want to convince potential customers that they’re the people to call for their next piece of equipment. While calling people and following up on leads has been effective for years, a good LinkedIn summary can help draw additional leads and even messages. Sometimes, a simple LinkedIn search finds just the right person, and sales professionals need to show up in search at the perfect time.
Finally, corporate executives use LinkedIn to build their professional brands (and find people). Even though their roles seem less competitive, it’s always important to have a great personal brand on LinkedIn. Career transitions can come at any point, sometimes when they’re unexpected. In addition, these people are considered the faces of their companies and need to put their best foot forward.
How can you put your best foot forward? Well-crafted basic profiles are just the beginning. For better results, you’ll want a LinkedIn summary. In this article, I’ll look at how to write a LinkedIn summary and why it’s important. Then, I’ll give you some prompts and tips.
What is a LinkedIn summary, anyway?
A LinkedIn summary, simply put, is a 2000-character section that you can write and post on your LinkedIn profile. It’s a place where you can talk about your career accomplishments, highlight your talents, and reveal your goals for the next job. You can even give a career-appropriate look at what interests you. In other words, this summary lets you tell people what makes you unique in about 300 words. Great, right?
Why Your LinkedIn Summary is Critical
In short, a LinkedIn summary is the best way to let yourself stand out above the noise and make connections-and get found on LinkedIn. However, when you do a deep dive into the opportunity to tell your story, it’s easy to see that knowing how to write a LinkedIn summary is so important. Let’s look at some of the reasons this summary is valuable.
It’s Your First Impression
Perhaps the most important point is that the LinkedIn summary is a great opportunity for a first impression. You can tell people what makes you special, rather than just a generic opportunity-seeker. Show some personality, though, rather than just a matter-of-fact narrative. For example, recruiters, in particular, want to see that you’re potentially a good “culture fit.” By showing people what you’re like, there’s a higher chance that you’ll get the contacts you need to succeed.
It Validates What You Say in Your Professional Headline
Knowing how to write a LinkedIn summary means you can back up the claims made in your professional headline. Look at it this way: it’s one thing to claim that you’re the best computer programmer out there, and another to give evidence. If you know how to write a LinkedIn Summary, then you can give recruiters a good look at your experience.
Doesn’t your work history tell the story, though? Not necessarily. For many people, volunteer opportunities, hobbies, and participation in community groups can help establish your professional chops. This is especially true if you’re trying to change careers, gain a promotion, or account for gaps in your resume. When people get a better chance to understand your qualifications, it’s a major step towards your next opportunity.
Of course, this principle isn’t limited to job seekers. Any time you are building a personal brand, giving people extra information about the “real you” can help reinforce that brand. And in turn, you can get unparalleled opportunities for advancement, whether it’s a big sale, important placement, or promotion.
It Gives You a Chance to Tell Your Story in Your Own Words
Resumes and CVs do one thing well: give the reader a quick survey of what you’ve accomplished professionally. However, they don’t tell a personalized story, and in some situations, the backstory can be important. For instance, adult children often drop out of the workforce or take a less demanding job to take care of their aging parents. While there’s definitely a TMI factor to a LinkedIn summary, you can potentially mention your experiences as a reason for someone to hire you.
It’s Part of How You Get Found in the LinkedIn Search Engine
Strictly speaking, everything you put on your LinkedIn profile helps with LinkedIn SEO. If you know how to write a LinkedIn Summary effectively, then you can insert keywords that will help your profile get found. This is important for everyone. However, if you’re using LinkedIn to promote your business or get a job, then great SEO is critical to boosting success. You can only apply to so many jobs, or manually gain a certain number of sales leads, each day. Beyond this, people need to find you through search.
9 LinkedIn Summary Writing Prompts
I believe that there is a yin and yang with your personal branding on LinkedIn as showcased in your summary. You want to showcase your strengths, but you also want to emotionally connect with the reader as if they were in the same room with you. As sales professionals say, “people pay people, not companies.” Or hire people, for that matter. That is why I have chosen writing prompts that include a little bit of both, in hopes that you can include both elements in your own uniquely branded LinkedIn summary.
1. Explain Your Current Role – in Your Own Words – Focusing on How You Help the World Around You
Especially on LinkedIn, people are mostly concerned about facts and figures: what job you have held, which degrees you earned, which conferences you’ve spoken at. But this is only part of the picture that’s you. Rather, people like to know about the impact your job has on your company and the community as a whole. Not only does this help explain your role, but it also helps position you as a professional.
Let’s look at a concrete example: mortgage bankers. Bankers often get a bad rap for the money that they collect in interest, denying someone a loan, or foreclosing on a property. But there are two other sides to the coin. First, mortgage lending is a profit center for many banks. And secondly, mortgage bankers collaborate with Realtors and other professionals to make homeownership a reality for those who can afford it. In turn, they have many grateful clients who are satisfied with the deal they were given. Many bankers will tell you that gratitude results in the satisfaction that no paycheck can give.
2. What are You Passionate About / What Makes You Tick?
Most people have a favorite aspect of their job. For instance, the mortgage banker above likely loves helping a first-time homebuyer get the keys. Other people choose their careers because of what they’re passionate about: teachers and social workers are great examples of this phenomenon. By highlighting the junction between work and passion, professionals can further define their personal brand.
3. Connect the Dots of Your Past to Showcase Your Unique Brand
For most of us, our job and education history tell a story. Maybe you switched careers or took time out for the family. Some professionals also take “survival jobs,” especially in economic downturns or when a particular industry is struggling. Part of how to write a LinkedIn summary is knowing when telling readers how each piece of the puzzle fits together. It’s all part of building and defending your personal brand.
4. Highlight the Defining Successful Moments of Your Career
Most of us have career successes that we’re especially proud of. For younger workers, it’s often landing that first great performance review. On the other hand, people who have worked for several years likely can talk about how they increased sales, or earned employee of the month, or maybe even landed a competitive promotion within the company. Part of how to write a LinkedIn summary is knowing what accolades to mention, and which to save for an interview.
5. Tie What You Do to a Bigger Mission as to What You Stand For
This idea is more about values than anything else. For instance, you might be someone who believes it’s best to sell the right product to the right person, rather than whatever’s fashionable and hope it works. For the right company, this approach towards sales can be a major selling point. It goes without saying that sales professionals always have quotas, but there are different ways to meet those benchmarks.
6. What Makes You Uniquely Successful at Doing What You Do?
Even in highly-regulated or regimented jobs, most of us have a special way to do something. For example, a chef might have a special technique for making an omelet. Most sales professionals have a particular way they try and connect with prospects. Even customer service representatives have different ways to build rapport or calm down an angry caller. Whatever that “special sauce” is, you might consider it for your LinkedIn summary.
7. What Are Your Unique Skills and Expertise (with Real-Life Examples)?
Part of how to write a LinkedIn summary is convincing people that your personal brand is unique. For many of us, special skills or areas of expertise can be a valuable part of that brand. In some cases, recruiters will seek you out for that skill. Let’s say you’re a special education teacher. There are many different types of disabilities that these teachers work with, but a major one these days is autism. For that reason, autism specialists are in high demand, and someone who has that expertise should definitely mention it in their LinkedIn summary.
8. What are You Passionate About Inside and Outside of Your Career?
Everybody has a life outside of work. Or at least, they should. So, how do you spend your free time? A lot of professionals talk about a sport that they play or brag about their passion for fine dining, for example. Sharing those interests gives you an opportunity to connect with someone who has the right opportunity on a personal level.
9. What is Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
Simply put, why are you better than the competition? Or as an interviewer might put it, “why should I hire you rather than the other guy?” By mentioning your USP, you’ll answer that almost upfront and hopefully get the call or message you’ve been waiting for. Even if you’re a “soft” candidate, showing your value to companies is an important part of how to write a LinkedIn summary.
9 LinkedIn Summary Tips
Now that you have some writing prompts you are well on your way to writing an epic LinkedIn Summary, but also keep these other important points in mind. Sometimes, it isn’t what you say but how you say it that matters. In addition, it’s always important to remember that your LinkedIn summary is an important opportunity for the best first impression.
1. Write in the First Person
In other words, this is your opportunity to speak of “I” not “we” or “you.” Because you’re talking about your personal brand and your professional accomplishments, you need to drive home that YOU are the face behind the branding. Otherwise, you risk people missing the point.
2. Who is Your Target Audience?
Always know who you need to attract with your message, as that helps determine how to write a LinkedIn summary. For instance, as a job seeker, you most likely want to attract recruiters and hiring managers. Within that category, you need to appeal to those professionals in your target industry and at the target job level. This way, your chance of interacting with the right people is much greater.
3. Grab People in Your First Few Lines of Text
Writers talk a lot about a “hook,” or the initial text that makes people want to read on. Remember, only the first few lines of your LinkedIn summary display in search results, so you want to attract that click. Once people are intrigued, they’ll often read the rest of your LinkedIn summary, where you can “sell” your brand.
4. Be a Storyteller
You might think of telling stories as content marketing for LinkedIn profiles. Part of how to write a LinkedIn summary is making it compelling. So, rather than writing along the lines of “first A than B,” try to make the summary an interesting read. As an added benefit, you’ll make your overall profile more memorable. When people remember you, you’re more likely to get access to an opportunity they hear about.
5. Sprinkle Important Keywords, Including Industry-Specific Ones, in Your Summary for the SEO of Your LinkedIn Profile
Before you write your LinkedIn summary, do a little research and find out what your best keywords are. For instance, a computer programmer will likely mention different programming languages that they’re proficient in. There may also be other relevant keywords that correspond to the type of opportunity you are looking for, such as “manager” or “supervisor.” Part of how to write a LinkedIn summary is knowing which keywords will get your profile found through the right searches.
6. Include Numbers, Where Possible
Depending on your industry, career level, and company policies, you might be able to give some numbers. For instance, “I helped my company acquire a product that boosted sales by 50%.” Or maybe, “I exceeded my sales goals by a million dollars my first year.” These numbers let other professionals see your successes and capabilities in concrete terms, which in turn helps you stand out from the competition.
7. Make It Easy for People to Read by Using Shorter Paragraphs and Bullet Points
Large blocks of text can be harder to read and, therefore, discourage people from reading the entire LinkedIn summary. To avoid this problem, consider using short paragraphs and bullet points. Remember, LinkedIn gives you a set number of characters, not a limit on the number of lines. Space out your text for the best results.
8. Make Use of All of the Real Estate That LinkedIn Gives You
Right now, the LinkedIn summary length limit is 2,000 characters. Typically, that adds up to about 300-350 words. This sounds like a lot, but if you do a good job of telling your story, the characters add up fast. Part of how to write a LinkedIn summary is knowing how to maximize your character count. Make it compelling and informative: you have the space. In so doing, you’ll maximize your opportunities.
9. What’s Your Call-to-Action?
You DO have a goal, right? Whether you want recruiters to contact you about the next great job, or decision-makers to reach out for information about your company’s products, be sure to express it in your LinkedIn summary. Of course, you don’t have to sound pushy. Something as simple as “check out this website” or “message me with great opportunities” will work just fine. But remember, the way you frame your CTA will reflect on you as a professional.
Sadly, a lot of people didn’t know how to write a LinkedIn summary without reading this post. And, unless you’re in a niche that requires a lot of networking on LinkedIn, you might not have even known what the Summary is. Luckily, by following the tips in this article, you too can write a compelling, effective LinkedIn summary. Try some of these tips today for the best results.
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Hero photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash