Here's a quick test you can give your LinkedIn summary right now: If you delete your LinkedIn summary, and the information given in your LinkedIn page would be unaffected, you need to revise it. Your summary shouldn't just show where you worked and what you know how to do – that's what the rest of your profile is for. That opening paragraph (or so) should be what draws people in and makes them want to know more. When someone gets your LinkedIn address off of your business card, make sure the first thing they see keeps them scrolling.
Take this summary for Jane Doe, a sloth specialist:
A dynamic sloth consultant for Sloths Inc. Before joining Sloths Inc., she worked as a sloth coordinator for Slow n Steady, and received her degree in Sloth Studies at Anytown University. A people person with a can-do attitude currently looking for opportunities to work with sloths in a management position.
If a hiring manager reads this summary, she's not going to learn anything about Jane Doe that she couldn't have learned without the summary. More importantly, Jane Doe has missed an opportunity to give that hiring manager a glimpse into her personality, and how she might fit in to a company's culture.
How you can learn from Jane's mistakes:
- Don't roughly describe an abstract person ("A dynamic sloth consultant"). Instead, speak in the first person to create a feeling of intimacy and conversation.
- Skip the buzzwords. CareerRealism's "Worst LinkedIn Summary Ever" is full of them, so your summary really shouldn't be. You might actually be a people person with a can-do attitude, but if you say it in those words, you're going to come off as someone deeply uncreative.
- Make sure your summary says something the rest of the page doesn't.
Here's what Jane Doe could have done differently:
I've known I was meant to work with sloths ever since one bit me at the zoo. That's not the way the animal encounter was supposed to go – I wasn't actually supposed to be touching it – but sometimes a twelve-year-old just has to follow her heart and break the rules a little. It probably should have been a lesson in caution, but instead it inspired a lifelong fascination with and respect for the greatest animals on earth.
I'm always on the lookout for new chances to work with sloths. Reach out with any opportunities, questions or if you'd just like to hear a fun sloth fact.
Admit it: you have no earthly reason to need a sloth specialist on staff, but you do kind of want to know what her fun sloth facts are. And if someone in your network mentioned that they had an opening for a sloth manager, Jane is probably the first person who'd come to mind.
Here's what Jane's second summary does that you can bring to your LinkedIn summary revisions:
- Tells a story: You now know that Jane was bitten by a sloth when she was a child. This puts all of her sloth experience in context, and helps build her character as an actual human being.
- Surprising: If you had to guess the root of someone's sloth enthusiasm, being bitten probably wouldn't be your first thought. Jane has found something totally unique about herself to share in her summary, and it makes her stand out.
- Sneaks in important qualities: Jane is willing to take risks if she believes it's worth it. She's also learned that sometimes risks have negative consequences, and how to recover when they do. This summary shows us that, and it's a lot more impactful than a throwaway line about being a "risk-taker" would be.
- Has a call to action: Jane Doe wants to talk to you, even if it's just to chat about how great sloths are. Because of this final line, she is a lot more likely to actually get messages about job offers and opportunities.