The LinkedIn summary or “about” section is often under-utilized by LinkedIn users. Many leave it completely blank or type in a short tagline better suited for a LinkedIn headline or a resume summary. But whether you’re using LinkedIn to find a job, market your business, or build your professional brand, the summary section is important real estate.
Whereas the headline allows just 120 characters, there are 2,000 characters available in the LinkedIn profile summary. This “about” section could give you between 300-350 words to strengthen your profile by adding some personality, optimizing your search terms, telling your career story, and inspiring action from readers.
Writing a great LinkedIn profile top-to-bottom is the easiest way to set yourself apart from half a billion other LinkedIn users. Even if you’ve uploaded a great profile photo, customized your headline, created a cover story video, and detailed your work and education history, leaving the summary blank is a huge missed opportunity for a number of reasons.
The LinkedIn profile summary is one of the first things people see when they visit your profile. It’s part of the introductory business card at the top of your profile that also includes your name, photo, headline, most recent company, education, and contact information. This information is “above the fold” on both desktop and mobile, meaning it’s one of the first elements visible on your profile and someone doesn’t have to scroll down to find it.
When most users visit your profile, they’ll see the first 300 characters or so of your summary (and can then click “Read More” to open up the full description. However, LinkedIn Recruiter shows the entire summary by default.
Compared to other social networks, LinkedIn carries a certain expectation of decorum and professionalism. This expectation varies from industry to industry; regardless, the profile summary section is your best opportunity to inject a little personality into your profile. In an age where culture fits or culture adds are top of mind, the LinkedIn summary is where you can really let prospective employers see who you are and what you care about.
More than any other LinkedIn profile section, the summary provides an opportunity to address the reader directly and share multiple sides of yourself — from professional accomplishments to life motivations.
When recruiters search for you on LinkedIn, summary content plays into the results. Your summary is not weighted as heavily as your headline or the job titles and descriptions in your work experience section, however, they can still strengthen your searchability and help you rise above similar candidates.
Using the LinkedIn summary to include terms that a recruiter might plug into a search bar — hard skills, job titles, or industry keywords — increases your visibility and reveals opportunities.
As alluded to above, a few things that should go into your summary include a catchy hook, your personal story, and optimized keywords.
By default, LinkedIn shows only the first three lines of your profile summary before readers have to click to see more. This works out to around 290-310 characters. That means that those first 300 characters need to be strong enough to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to learn even more about you.
If you’re a creative writer you might start your summary with a catchy hook that invites readers to click “See More.” Otherwise, top load your LinkedIn summary with the number-one thing you want recruiters or hiring managers to know about you.
What sets you apart from everyone else? What combinations of skills help you achieve results? Why do you love your work? Answering these questions can help you uncover a compelling opening statement.
Recruiters search for a combination of job titles, skills, and other keywords to find the right candidates. LinkedIn even shows you some of the search queries used to find your profile. On your profile, check out the dashboard underneath your summary. One of the stats will be “search appearances.”
Click on it to see a report detailing your searches. For example, this week some of my searchers found my profile by using these keyword combinations:
If you don’t see any search appearances or relevant search terms on your profile, it means your profile keywords aren’t optimized for recruiter searches. Review job descriptions that interest you take note of recurring hard skills and keywords. If applicable to you and your career goals, add these words to your summary and profile.
rapidezwriter's LinkedIn Optimization service helps automate this process by comparing your profile to three or more relevant job descriptions. It then shows you which keywords you’re missing. These specific keywords tend to be the search terms used by recruiters when looking for candidates.LinkedIn Optimization results for my profile.
If you’re not much of a writer — and you don’t need to be for most jobs — using your summary to list your most important skills and technologies in a bulleted list format is a smart alternative to crafting a narrative.
Your LinkedIn summary isn’t the same as a cover letter and it definitely isn’t the place for your unabridged biography. However, it is the perfect place to add context to your career trajectory, show off your accomplishments, and dig into what makes you great at your job. This is information that recruiters and prospective employers are interested in knowing.
Leave hints as to why you moved from one company to the next. Recruiters want to know if the position they’re filling makes sense as your next step.
“I want to see the progression of not only what job title and what company you were working for, but also a snapshot of the progression of your career,” a healthcare recruiter told Jobscan. “I’m also looking for the logic of why you went from this job to the next job. What caused you to make that transition?”
Much of this will be detailed in your work experience sections, but you can use your summary to control the narrative. For example, you might use your summary to share your interest in a specific discipline within your field. Or how you motivate and enable your team as you look to move into a management role. Or your desire to work with companies that make an impact on a specific segment of the community. Placing these ideas in your summary will help color your entire career history.
Controlling the narrative of your career might also look like explaining career gaps or changes, or skills learned through a university setting if you have minimal or no work experience. There are many different ways to express your value and abilities from personal experiences, volunteering, and other training opportunities.
Specific accomplishments should be peppered throughout your work experience sections, but the summary is a great place to combine your greatest accomplishments into a highlight for additional impact.
You can also generalize and get creative with presenting accomplishments in this section in ways you can’t in your work experience. For example, if you’re a sales manager who has worked with three different companies, you can say, “Increased regional sales by an average of 72% in my first year at three different companies.”
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