Tips for Writing a Great LinkedIn Summary With Examples

Emily Roberts. © The Balance, 2018 

A great LinkedIn summary gives information on your professional background and abilities and helps get you noticed by hiring managers. It's well worth it to spend the time to make your summary section informative and attention-grabbing, so hiring managers will keep reading through to your complete work history. 

LinkedIn Profiles vs. Resumes

Many summaries on LinkedIn read like the summary on a resume. But, the summary section on your resume is actually a very different creature. Ideally, your resume is customized for a specific position for which you are applying. That includes the summary section, too. By contrast, a LinkedIn profile summary must speak to all the positions for which a candidate wishes to be considered. Therefore, a resume and its summary must be specific and targeted, while a LinkedIn profile summary should appeal to a more broad audience.

Tips for Writing a Great LinkedIn Profile Summary

The challenge, though, is this: while a profile summary should be more general than a resume summary, if it is too unfocused, it will go unnoticed by employers. An overly general or off-target profile summary means the job seeker will not appear in a search result. 

So how can one write a good LinkedIn summary that strikes the right balance between being general enough to cover your bases and specific enough to show up in search results? Here are tips that will help you get the best result from this slim but powerful section of your LinkedIn profile. 

Consider Your Audience

Of course, your LinkedIn profile needs to appeal to the person reading it, who is often a recruiter, HR professional, or hiring manager. But the other main audience to consider is search engines. Since recruiters and others search LinkedIn to find talent matching their needs, turning up in these search results is clearly desirable. There is an entire science to this discipline: search engine optimization (SEO).

Although the specifics of search engine optimization are beyond the scope of this article, the governing concept is a simple one: use keywords wisely. 

Which Keywords Should You Include?

Identifying the right keywords to use in your LinkedIn profile summary can seem daunting at first, but there are resources available to help you find them:

1. Go Up the Org Chart

If there is a more senior, well-respected professional in your field, look at that person's LinkedIn profile. Copy and paste his or her summary into your favorite word cloud site (Wordle.net is a popular one) and see what keywords are most prominent.

Do the same with the summary you are currently using, and compare the results. Repeat this process with others, and a pattern should emerge. You can examine the profile pages of peers, too. 

2. Check Out Job Postings

Job postings are also keyword-based content, making them a great resource for the savvy job seeker. Once you identify what your next job title should be, look at job postings for the job title and its variations. From there, review the terms that appear often, as above.

3. Tie It All Together

It goes without saying that one should avoid keywords that cannot be applied truthfully. In addition, a great profile not only has the right keywords, but is also appealing to a human reader. Take the time to pull the keywords and the narrative together, so your profile is engaging and easy to read.

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How to Optimize the Appearance of Your Summary

There are two major ways in which a LinkedIn summary will be viewed: desktop or mobile. In the desktop version, a few hundred (~300) characters are visible. The mobile version is even more truncated. To view the full copy, readers will need to click "show more." 

That means you want to really maximize the impact of the first sentence of your profile. Make sure to use the first sentence to convey the most important information about your experience and talents. 

What Hiring Managers Look For

When hiring for permanent positions, hiring managers and other decision-makers have a strong preference for prospective employees who are a good culture fit and can easily fit into the team's dynamic. Some teams are of a more congenial character, and prefer collaborative interactions. Other groups are comfortable with direct confrontation when views differ. Yet others prioritize individual initiative to a greater or lesser extent.

Try to use your profile to convey what type of worker you are, but avoid over-used words and phrases like "team player," "detail-oriented," and "motivated." 

Be Authentic: Don't be afraid to communicate something authentic and personal, while remaining positive. 

Share Metrics and Successes: Numbers are always your friends when it comes to job-hunting. If you have a wow-worthy accomplishment — like increasing sales 30% year-over-year or reducing employee churn by 10% — include that in your profile. 

Talk About Your Talents: What are you good at? The profile is an opportunity to broadcast your skills. It's also a helpful place to talk about transferable skills, explain a career change, or highlight a talent that you've used in several positions. 

Tell a Story: You want your profile to be keyword-rich, but you also want it to tell a story about your career. Whether your profile discusses your whole work experience in broad terms or focuses on your current position, it should be engaging and interesting. 

Review LinkedIn Profile Examples

These examples are the beginnings of LinkedIn summaries that illustrate these principles.

Business Analyst Summary Example

A business analyst, Reggie suspects that due to an impending acquisition of his employer, his position will be eliminated soon. As he is pulling together a resume, he begins looking online for other BA job postings, and begins to notice that at least 33 percent of the job postings mention user acceptance testing — but in the office, it's always been referred to as user sign-off testing. He makes a mental note to verify what language is unique to his current employer vs. what is widely accepted.

Driven BA whose business requirement documents & technical specifications *always* pass UAT! I'm a high energy, experienced business analyst, passionate about working hand-in-hand with developers & users to produce requirements and specifications that accurately reflect business needs and are technologically achievable. We will not over-engineer: the true test of successfully eliciting requirements, producing business requirement documents, and releasing technical specifications is when the user acceptance testing (UAT) is completed on schedule.

A veteran of the automotive industry, my exposure to Lean Six Sigma manufacturing keeps me focused on opportunities to improve processes.

Specialties include:

  • Clear communications with team leads
  • User Acceptance Testing
  • Requirement Elicitation
  • Business Requirement Documents
  • Technical Specifications

Project Manager Summary Example

Mary just received her Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute. An eight-year veteran of the profession, she is interested in taking the next step in her career but her current employer doesn't have a suitable role. Mary decides to review the LinkedIn profiles of directors of project management offices and studies them carefully, learning how to represent her experience as both an individual contributor and a leader.

My projects stay on schedule and on budget! My PMP is the product of eight years in the trenches, filled with valuable lessons learned. It is tremendously rewarding to leverage my strong influencing skills to ensure resources remain available as expected to ensure my projects hit schedule and budget benchmarks. Equally comfortable with Agile, Scrum, and Lean Six Sigma methodologies, my projects succeed because I remain focused on the big picture while ensuring project members have the resources necessary to achieve milestones.

In fact, it's been my privilege to train several talented project managers, whose successful careers began as members of my projects.

Areas of Focus:

  • Enterprise Software Implementation: on-premise and Cloud/SaaS
  • Preventing scope creep
  • Herding cats

Career Change Summary Example

When Jeff was laid off from his last position, it was a surprise: accounts payable was all he knew. As he gradually worked through his shock, he came to realize that that wasn't true. While he was skilled at AP, he was much more passionate about another field: human resources. In the past, he identified several new hires, and helped a few colleagues who were applying for H1B visas, drawing upon his personal experience with the process. Jeff used some of his severance pay to fund a course to prepare for the PHR certification exam. After consulting with a reference librarian, he reviewed postings and LinkedIn profile summaries from others, then making a list of keywords.

Where Human Resource programs fall short, my work authorization and recruiting experience shine! My title was Accounts Payable, but I've been interested in Human Resources all along. Over my career, I have referred several people who became employees, and also aided several colleagues who were applying for H1B visas, drawing upon my own personal experience. This gives me practical, hands-on experience in talent acquisition/talent attraction/recruiting and with immigration/work authorization. Ever since childhood, I had an aptitude for numbers.

But as I got older, I came to understand that the numbers are only one piece of the puzzle — there is a story hiding behind them. And this is why I wish to continue my career in this new direction.

I will soon sit for HRCI's PHR exam, with every expectation of passing. I am confident and proud of my past, and look to take the next step into the future.

Particularly skilled in:

  • Work authorization
  • Talent acquisition/talent attraction/recruiting
  • Seeing beyond the numbers to the human story behind them