As a Fortune 500 recruiter turned personal branding consultant, I have read hundreds (if not thousands) of LinkedIn profile summaries. In today’s technology age, LinkedIn is where recruiters source 75%+ of their candidates, so having a strong LinkedIn profile summary is paramount to grabbing your future employer’s attention.
From reading the good, the bad, and the hands-down winners, I am here to share with you 10 Tips from a Recruiter for Writing Your Best LinkedIn Profile Summary.
Tip #1: The 1st Person vs 3rd Person Debate
One of the first questions people wonder when embarking on their LinkedIn writing journey is “Should I write this in 1st person or 3rd person?”
For those of you that were sleeping during English class, 1st person is when you write a narrative through your own eyes, using pronouns like ‘I’ and ‘We’. 3rd person is when you write a narrative from an outsider’s point-of-view, using pronouns like ‘He’, ‘She’, ‘It’, and ‘They’.
If you do a quick online search, you will see there is a fiery debate about which to use for your LinkedIn profile summary. Well I am here to tell you that there isn’t a blanket answer and it really depends on your seniority and profession.
1st person narrative should be used for entry to mid-level professionals in creative or customer service-based fields. For these professionals, having the right culture fit is extremely important for potential employers, so you need to use the 1st person to show off your character and personality.
3rd person narrative should always be used for executives and high-level managers (Directors, VPs, etc.) 3rd person should also be used for professionals in what I will call “straight-laced, corporate” roles where your performance is strictly based on metrics and achievements, not relationship building or personality.
Tip #2: Never Copy & Paste from Your Resume
As we know, when writing a resume, we always include a professional summary. Although it may be tempting, you should never copy and paste your resume’s professional summary into your LinkedIn profile summary. These are two very different beasts.
Your resume professional summary should be tailored to each position you are applying to, while your LinkedIn profile summary needs to attract readers who might be considering you for a varying range of positions. Your LinkedIn profile summary also needs to be more personal and creative, while your resume professional summary should be direct and straightforward.
Tip #3: Start With A Powerful Opening Sentence
When viewing LinkedIn profiles on a desktop, only the first 300 characters of your summary are shown. To read the rest of your summary, the reader needs to be interested enough to click ‘See More’. While on a mobile device, your LinkedIn profile summary is truncated even more.
This means that you need to grab the readers attention in 300 characters or less. You should also be aware that when you search your name on Google, your LinkedIn profile shows up, and the first line of your LinkedIn summary is shown directly in the search results.
Your opening sentence needs to be powerful while also provide an accurate snapshot of your background. You need to think, “From reading just the first sentence, will a potential employer understand what I do?”
That’s why the strongest opening sentences include your position title, your industry, and a fun selling point or two. Here are some of my favorite examples:
Senior Account Executive at Wistia where I help businesses make their marketing more human with interactive video solutions.
Ex-corporate lawyer and current non-profit founder dedicated to solving problems faced by third-world citizens, so we can move towards a more global community.
Educator and Sales Superman at ListenUp passionate about leveraging podcasts to improve listening skills and narrowing educational disparities.
Tip #4: Add a Personal Touch
From summaries to profile pictures, LinkedIn allows us to connect with other professionals in a more human capacity than a resume. Although it depends on what type of profession you are in, those in customer-facing positions, like sales, HR, and marketing, need to add a personal touch to their LinkedIn. Additionally, before client or customer meetings, many people will look you up on LinkedIn first, so you want to create a warm and friendly vibe to set the stage for meeting in person.
To bring some humanity into your LinkedIn profile, you can add some humor or tell a story about your background. Check these examples out:
Spent 8 years as a stand-up comedian, until I realized my children didn’t enjoy starving- So now I sell software.
Nothing satisfies me more than meeting new people, developing new relationships, and contributing to the overall growth of a business. Which is why last year I started ConnectUs, a new start-up dedicated to connecting like-minded businesses.
Tip #5: Include Your Passions
Your LinkedIn summary is the perfect place to add your hobbies and personal interests. That being said, please make sure you never add these to your resume- It is viewed by recruiters as extremely unprofessional.
For a LinkedIn profile summary, it is appropriate to add one or two lines talking about what you do in your free time. Just make sure these are things that won’t look bad to an employer, like spending all day playing video games or binge-watching Netflix. Here are some tasteful examples for adding passions to your LinkedIn profile summary:
City dweller who loves to travel, partake in outdoor activities, and find new adventures.
As the son of a meat distributor and chef, in my free time, you can usually find me poolside grilling.
Tip #6: Recap Your Professional Experience
After your powerful opening sentence, it’s time to recap your professional experience. Not everyone takes the time to read through your work history line by line, so a strong summary paragraph of your background is necessary to get the reader interested.
Much like in your cover letter, you need to point out your selling points and differentiators. The reader should know by reading your LinkedIn profile summary if you are a good fit for their team, so make sure to include a paragraph or list of your abilities.
Tip #7: Highlight Your Accomplishments
Not only do employers want to know what responsibilities you have handled, but they want to know what you have actually accomplished. Numbers and figures always stand out, so try to incorporate as many metrics as you can.
Some examples would be an award that you won, the amount of revenue that you brought in, or the budget of a projects that you worked on. You can either incorporate this into the body of your LinkedIn profile summary or include a separate ‘Notable Achievements’ section at the bottom. Check it out:
– ‘New York Best Company To Work For’ 2018 recipient
– Promoted 4 times in 3 years
– Increased quarterly revenue by 20%, from 100k to 120k
Tip #8: Optimize for Search Engines (aka SEO)
Search engine optimization, otherwise known as SEO, isn’t just used for Google. Recruiters have access to a special portal on the LinkedIn platform, called ‘LinkedIn Recruiter’, where they type in keywords to source the candidates they are looking for. To make sure your profile pops up, you need to optimize your LinkedIn by incorporating the same keywords recruiters will be searching for.
To know what keywords to use, search for some job descriptions that you are interested. Then go through and highlight any words or phrases that are used over and over again. The keywords will typically be variations of the position title, as well as any skill or technology requirements.
For example, if a recruiter is looking for a Project Manager for a technology company, they might use the following keywords: IT Project Manager, IT PM, Project Management Professional, PMP, MS Project
Once you have a solid list of keywords, go through your LinkedIn profile and incorporate them into your headline, summary, and professional experience sections.
Tip #9: Use 2k Characters or Less
Before you go writing a novel, you should be aware that your LinkedIn summary must be 2,000 characters or less (including spaces). My suggestion is to craft your summary on a Word document first, so you can check your character count, and save the disappointment of LinkedIn not saving your hard work.
Tip #10: Be Easily Accessible
The easier you can make it for recruiters to contact you, the better. Which is why I always suggest adding your contact information to the bottom of your LinkedIn profile (yes, I know it is already in the contact section). To make sure you come across as approachable and accessible, you should also include a line about being open to networking along with the best way to reach you. Like this:
I love networking and am always interested in hearing about new engagements and opportunities. Feel free to connect via LinkedIn or drop a line using one of the contact methods below!
Cell – (555) 123-4567
Email – John@Gmail.com
Happy LinkedIn Networking!