With 500M+ members, LinkedIn remains the top platform for passive job searching, which means that if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile with decent summary, you could be missing out on opportunities. It is somewhat like not having a door that opportunity might knock on.
Not only does LinkedIn offer a controlled space where you define your personal brand and convey it to a targeted audience, it also performs as a social media platform. This means that your LinkedIn profile content can be much more authentic, narrative, and conversational than your resume.
The Summary is my personal favorite section of LinkedIn, because it’s perfectly suited to a splash of creativity. You can say whatever you want about yourself, you have complete control over the message, and you aren’t hemmed in by position titles, dates, and company names. However, that vague openness can be daunting to a lot of job seekers. Where to start? How to proceed? Here are a few tips on how to write Summary content that will engage hiring managers and recruiters.
As opposed to your resume, which uses the telegram style of writing to pack as much information into as short a document as possible, on LinkedIn a much more conversational, down-to-earth tone is possible.
That means you can bring the personal pronoun out of retirement and focus more on sounding true to your own voice.
It also means that you don’t need to write in the third person. The LinkedIn profile summary is all about establishing your personal brand while connecting with the reader. That is much easier to accomplish when you use a natural approach to writing as opposed to stiff, third-person text.
It is so easy to fall into the dense, corporate speak of your own industry, which for many people is easier than the sort of writing that will optimize your LinkedIn content. But consider the difference in these two opening paragraphs for the same Medical Strategy Director:
“Provides pharmaceutical medical strategy including business case development, product development, product launches, and post-launch lifecycle management.”
“As a Medical Strategy Director, I have driven exciting new pharmaceutical products from concept to launch by harnessing my passion for science and medicine, my analytical mindset, and my business savvy.”
The first option isn’t terrible; we’ve included some of the important keywords, but you can imagine that if the entire profile continued that way—a laundry list of industry keywords without any emotional connection or narrative—it would get very boring, very quickly.
In the second version, we learn
– the position title
– important keywords (pharmaceutical, product, launch)
– that the speaker enjoys her work
– which traits the speaker has that make her good at this job
– a sense of the speaker’s voice and personality
This sort of rich, packed content not only says more, it also enables that important emotional connection. Wouldn’t you rather hire someone who is passionate about their work over someone who just does the work?
Including a personal detail about where you come from or what drives your success can be deeply effective, but it can also be uncomfortable for a lot of people. There is a great deal of power in storytelling—especially if the story is true!
The trick is getting just personal enough to differentiate yourself from others and give the reader something to remember. Usually, a detail from your background is all you need.
I can think of so many examples, from the sales trainer who got his start teaching his elementary school friends how to bargain for more playground time, to the CTO who got in trouble as a child for taking his toys apart. These rich details can transform a flat, generic LinkedIn profile into a vital expression of your personal brand.