How to Write a Recruiter-Grabbing LinkedIn Summary
Hands down, LinkedIn is one of the top social media channels for job seekers. From making new connections (and rekindling old ones), it’s a place for professionals to network and be seen. And that’s the thing. Recruiters are often on LinkedIn, but that’s also why you need to have your LinkedIn profile fully optimized.
Even though you may think the work experience section in your LinkedIn profile should do all the talking for you, it doesn’t. With its top billing on your profile, your LinkedIn summary is the place recruiters will focus on first when considering whether to reach out to you.
Why You Should Write a LinkedIn Profile Summary
Think of the summary as your introduction. It’s likely the first thing recruiters look at when they visit your profile.
Maybe you think that the summary section is overkill. After all, your work history and education can speak volumes. And, it’s probably easier to let the work history do the talking, instead of summarizing your important career highlights.
That may be true. But, beyond leaving a positive impression, there are other reasons to fill out your LinkedIn summary.
Even when you’re not actively job-hunting, a job may be looking for you. Recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates to fill their open positions. They do this by searching through candidate profiles (like yours), using various search methods.
The thing is, complete profiles are more likely to appear in LinkedIn search results. If you skip the summary section, LinkedIn considers your profile incomplete, making it less likely you’ll show up in a recruiter’s search results.
Connects the Dots
In some ways, the LinkedIn profile summary tells the story of who you are and why you do what you do. It can also help employers understand how and why you are good at your job, with specific examples of your achievements.
However, not everyone’s career is a straight climb up the ladder. Some people have held a variety of jobs in different fields at different levels, and the LinkedIn summary can help you tie them together.
For example, if you’re a career changer, you need to show that you’ve got skills that work in other fields. The summary is the perfect place for you to highlight and draw attention to your transferable skills long before the recruiter gets to your work history. This helps them understand that even though you don’t have the “traditional” job history for a given job, you do have the “right” skills.
How to Write a Strong LinkedIn Summary
There are plenty of ways to write an outstanding and unique professional summary. However, creating a summary for your resume is different than creating one for LinkedIn.
Don’t Reuse Your Resume Statement
In some respects, creating a LinkedIn summary is the same as creating a resume summary. You use action verbs on either summary, so recruiters get immediate information about your skills (results-oriented and strategic marketer, for example). And, on either summary, you should incorporate job-specific keywords.
However, there are some important differences between your LinkedIn summary versus your resume summary. And those differences are the reason why you do not want to copy and paste your resume summary as your LinkedIn summary (and vice versa).
First, your resume summary should always be unique and tailored to the job you’re applying for. Every time you apply for a new job, you want to include specific keywords mentioned in the job posting into your resume summary (and work history).
But you can’t rewrite your LinkedIn summary every time you apply for a job. That makes it impossible to include job-specific keywords on your LinkedIn profile. Instead, you need to include industry-specific keywords to help recruiters find you when they search for candidates.
Secondly, the length of the two summary statements can (and should) differ. On a resume, space is at a premium. Therefore, your resume summary should be no longer than four well-crafted sentences that summarize your top skills.
But on LinkedIn, your summary statement can be much longer—up to 2,000 characters (approximately 250 words or about three to four paragraphs). Clearly, that won’t fit on a resume! And while your LinkedIn summary should also be brief, it doesn’t need to be nearly as brief as your resume summary. So, take advantage of the extra space and use it to paint a compelling portrait of you as a candidate.
Create a Unique Brand Statement
While you have several paragraphs for your profile summary, LinkedIn will only show the first 300 or so characters. Because those 300 characters are approximately four sentences, you need to create an enticing brand statement to grab recruiters’ attention and entice them to click the “see more” link.
Think of these four sentences as your “elevator pitch.” You want to hook the reader and get them to learn more about you. Start with the skills and achievements you most want recruiters to notice. Then, if you aren’t sure where to go next, highlight the things that are unique to you and help explain why you are so good at your job.
Keywords are an essential part of any LinkedIn summary. The trick, however, is not to simply add keywords for the sake of adding keywords. You have to use your keywords selectively and correctly to have the most impact.
Recruiters can search for potential candidates by filtering for keywords. Assuming your profile is complete and contains the searched keyword, your profile will appear in the results. However, you can’t randomly add keywords you think recruiters are searching for.
Because you can’t customize your LinkedIn profile for every job you apply to, you need to optimize your profile for your industry. This means selecting commonly used keywords that your industry prefers. Check out job postings and see what keywords are used most often. Then, find ways to incorporate those keywords into your summary statement.
While it is important to get the right keywords in your summary, don’t overthink it. On the one hand, the right keywords will help you land in recruiter searchers (which is why you use them). But, sometimes, two keywords are industry favorites (like client versus customer). That’s a time when you shouldn’t overthink it. Choose one and be consistent. The rest of the keywords on your summary will help you appear in search results.
Avoid Vague Phrases
Recruiters are looking for specifics on your LinkedIn summary, not fluff. Avoid using mundane or overused, yet popular phrases. These could include “team player,” “great communicator,” or “established expert.” Recruiters are looking to know how you are a team player, and what makes you an expert.
Highlight the presentations you’ve made at industry conferences and add videos of those presentations (or links to transcripts). Include the presentation materials you’ve created. And, consider using a picture of your presenting at one of these conferences as your banner picture.
Also, make sure you avoid slang of any kind. For example, don’t say that you’re an “out of the box” thinker. That’s “industry slang” and doesn’t mean anything (unless you’ve got phenomenal examples to back that up). Instead, try using words that summarize your thinking ability. “I’m an innovative and collaborative problem solver who searches for creative solutions to client dilemmas.”
Talk About What Excites You
No employer wants to hire someone who’s only “kind of” interested in their job or career. Employers want to hire people who are passionate and excited about what they do. That doesn’t mean you have to be the kind of person that bounds into work every Monday morning. But, it does mean that you have to have a deep interest in what you do.
The LinkedIn summary is a great place to explain why you do what you do and why you keep doing it. Use the space to talk about what excites you about your career and what keeps you interested in it. Do you like solving challenging problems? Helping customers find the right product? Whatever it is, use the summary statement to tell a compelling story.
How to Format Your LinkedIn Profile Summary
Now you know exactly what to say. But, there’s more to writing than choosing the right words. When you create your LinkedIn summary, you want to think about formatting, too. There are best practices you want to follow, and some formatting extras you can only do on LinkedIn.
Use First Person
Consider writing your profile in the first person. This can help your writing sound more natural and realistic. That, in turn, will help your profile be more natural and realistic.
Think of it like this: when you meet someone at a party, and you’re talking about yourself, you don’t do it in the third person. Do you say, “Jane did this and Jane did that,”? Or, do you say, “I do this, and I do that”? Treat your LinkedIn profile like you’re speaking to someone you just met, and you’ll find the writing sounds more natural and more like you.
Add Rich Media
Not everyone is a wordsmith. And while you’ll still need a keyword-rich and well-written summary, consider adding rich media to fill in the gap. This doesn’t have to be a professionally produced video of you at work. It could simply be an image or link to an article about you and your accomplishments.
Adding samples of your work in addition to your summary helps you demonstrate your skills and abilities without having to describe them. Not only does this make things easier on you, it helps the recruiter see proof that you’ve got the skills they’re looking for.
Use White Space
A big part of a recruiter’s job is to read resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles over and over and over and over. Even with perfect vision, staring at words on screens (or even on paper) all day starts to hurt the eyes and the head.
To make things easier on the recruiter, use a lot of white space in your summary statement. White space simply means breaking up large portions of your text into smaller portions. This makes it easier for recruiters to read and remember your summary.
For example, if you’ve got a six-sentence long paragraph, consider breaking it up into two three-sentence paragraphs. These shorter paragraphs are easier to read and comprehend, thanks to the break in the middle.
Bullet points can help with your formatting. However, you should be aware of some of the pros and cons of using them.
On the pro side, some people feel bullet points are:
- More user-friendly than long summaries with multiple paragraphs
- Help the points stand out and be remembered
- Help break down complex ideas and make the material easier to understand
See how that works?
However, bullet points make it harder to tell a story about yourself. Bullet points are just that: points. In some respects, bullet points are not different than a list of accomplishments. If you’re trying to tell a cohesive story about your career, you may not be able to do that with bullet points.
Using Your LinkedIn Summary to Grab Attention
Telling a compelling story about your professional self in 300 words or less isn’t easy. But, if you frame it as a story about who you are, why you love what you do, and how you are good at what you do, you might have an easier time telling recruiters why they should hire you.
And, if you’re ready to find your next job, FlexJobs can help. Take the tour and learn about everything FlexJobs has to offer.
Jessica Howington and Jennifer Parris contributed to this article
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
A version of this article was originally published on January 26, 2015.
Don’t forget to share this article with friends!
Rachel Pelta is a Content Coordinator for FlexJobs. With professional experience in job placement and as a manager, she creates content to help people succeed in their job search, and to help managers get the best out of their staff.…Read More >
We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions. Please leave a comment below! All fields are required.