A great LinkedIn summary gives information about your professional background and abilities and helps get you noticed by hiring managers. It's 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.
Many summaries on LinkedIn read like a summary on a resume. However, the summary section on your resume is a very different creature. Ideally, your resume is customized for a specific position for which you are applying, and that includes the summary section. 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 broader audience.
While a profile summary should be more general than a resume summary, it will go unnoticed by employers if it is too unfocused. Overly general or off-target profile summaries can lead to job seekers not appearing in search results. A good LinkedIn summary should strike the right balance between being general enough to cover your bases and specific enough to show up in search results.
The prominence of online sites like LinkedIn and online application processes has changed the nature of writing resumes. It's important to focus on what is good about LinkedIn and similar sites and find ways to work through the bad.
Easily editable content
Apply to jobs using LinkedIn profile
Opportunity for search engine optimization
Ability to compare profile to similar professionals
Limited space in which to grab attention
Needing to balance the general with the specific
Choosing among variable terms that describe the same thing
Getting Noticed on LinkedIn
Your LinkedIn profile needs to show up in search engine results in order to reach recruiters and hiring managers. Identifying the right keywords to help with your search engine optimization can seem daunting at first, but there are resources available to help you find them.
- Go up the organizational 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 a word cloud site such as Wordle.net 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 patterns should emerge. You also can examine the profile pages of peers.
- Check out job postings. Job postings are also keyword-based content, making them a great resource for savvy job seekers. 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.
- Tie it all together. Focus on keywords that can be applied truthfully and are appealing to human readers. Take the time to pull together the keywords and the narrative so your profile is engaging and easy to read.
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How to Optimize the Appearance of Your Summary
LinkedIn summaries are viewed on both desktop and mobile sites. In the desktop version, about 300 characters are visible. The mobile version is even more truncated. To view the full copy, readers will need to click "show more."
This 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.
- Be authentic. Don't be afraid to communicate something 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.
- Describe 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 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.
Business Analyst Summary Example
A business analyst who suspects his position will be eliminated soon is pulling together a resume. He begins looking online for other BA job postings and notices that at about one-third of them mention user acceptance testing, referred to as user sign-off testing where he currently works. He makes a mental note to verify what language is unique to his current employer vs. what is widely accepted. His summary might look like this:
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 and 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.
Clear communications with team leads
Business requirement documents
Project Manager Summary Example
An applicant 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. Her summary might look like this:
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 that 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.
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
Career Change Summary Example
An applicant was caught by surprise when he was laid off from his last position. Accounts payable was all he knew—he thought. As he gradually worked through his shock, he came to realize 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. He 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, making a list of keywords. His summary might look like this:
Where human resource programs fall short, my work authorization and recruiting experience shines! My previous job was in 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 have had an aptitude for numbers.
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:
Talent acquisition/talent attraction/recruiting
Seeing beyond the numbers to the human story behind them