How to Write a LinkedIn Profile Summary

Typing that very phrase into a search engine is a sure-fire way to take you a myriad of websites that give you a few basic tips before asking for some outrageous fee to “analyze” your profile and “make recommendations”. Well my friends, that is quite simply a load of bovine excrement.

It would be one thing if the people asking upwards of $300 actually wrote your profile for you and you landed a job soon after, but (as far as I can tell) it doesn’t work like that. Rather, the process seems to function more on basic search engine optimization to increase the odds that you will appear higher in searches.

Unfortunately, paying money for a few pointers isn’t going to help most people, and if you’re adept at writing then you’re better off keeping your money and just using a few pointers. To help make things a bit easier, I’ve compiled a brief list of my top tips to help your profile shine a little brighter.

1. 250 Words Maximum

It seems simple enough, but this area is where most people tend to go way overboard. It’s well known that most people prefer their information at a glance, especially when reading online. When someone clicks on your profile, they want to get a brief idea of what you’re like, so think of this as a brochure of sorts. Give the reader a glance of you: how do you work, what do you want to achieve, what have you done so far?
And keep the paragraphs short and broken up. If print is scattered, it flows faster.

2. Be Conversational

Think about the way you talk. Have you ever walked up to someone and said, “Hello, I am John Smith. I have 10 years of sales experience. I am a team player who is proficient at Microsoft Office, competent at reporting and productive at meetings…”
If you said yes, you might want to consider changing your conversational voice. The problem with writing like that is it doesn’t do anything to help you stand out as an individual. It sounds dry, generic and boring.

How do you get around it? Think of a dynamic and complimentary way to describe yourself right off the bat. I’m not very experienced as a professional, so I try selling myself as someone who is ready to jump into the thick of things. My profile kicks off with the following paragraph:

I’m a small man with big dreams and the work ethic to help me clinch them. Success alone does not drive me as much as the opportunity to excel. Learning new things does not frighten me. Competing with more experienced and accomplished people excites me. I’m a writer with endless creativity, and I possess the will to combine my discipline and gifts effectively.

Confidence is key, but take care not to sound cocky. By taking myself down a peg with a jab at my height (I’m not that short, but I’m not very tall either) there’s a small hint of humility and, hopefully, charm. Concisely communicated are my work ethic, my competitive side and a shallow glance at my abilities.

From there, go on to list your experiences in a way that compliments this. Imagine you’ve got one minute to describe your experiences to a complete stranger. Summarize, summarize, summarize.

     3. Avoid Buzzwords, Get Creative

Terms like “team player”, “dedicated”, “results-driven” and so on were a good thing to list on cover letters and LinkedIn profiles alike right up until every single human being in this lovely world started using them. Now they’re cheap, over-used and feel insincere.
What’s a more articulate and unique way to describe yourself as a team player? Better yet, how could you come across as sincere? I’ve described myself as follows:

a fast-paced worker who works extremely efficiently alone–though I still work very well as part of a team.

This approach kills several birds with a single stone. I’ve mentioned that I can work well in a team; that I can work very competently on my own; that I get work done quickly. Three skills, one sentence, reads conversationally with a dynamic flow.
List off your experiences in a similar, conversational tone.

4. Cut Out Obvious/Excessive Skills – Go For Specialties or Skills of Note

It might seem like a good idea to mention that you’ve got some rockin’ PowerPoint skills and no your way around a spreadsheet, but, in reality, it isn’t necessary and just adds clutter. What are the real skills you possess that are conductive to your profession?
If you’re in sales, broadcast the skills you have for that: if they’re unusual for your trade then you really want to list them.
Similarly, I’m a writer, but I’m familiar with marketing pitches, grant and business proposals, decent with Photoshop, website analytics and know basic html. Specialties of mine would obviously include writing, copywriting, editing and so on.
**Keep it brief, and stow it at the very end of your profile summary.**

5. End With a Call To Action

After you feel like you’ve left a good impression with the rest of the profile, leave a parting note that encourages readers to reach out to you. This can be a formal parting that asks anyone curious to email you, visit your website and or message you on LinkedIn. Alternatively, it can be informal, with you encouraging someone to reach out if they have any questions about business or invite them to talk about a conversation topic.
This is like a conclusion to your summary. You need an ending to keep it from feeling incomplete.
It’s worth repeating that your specialties and skills of note should be listed after this.

6. Give Your Message a Face–A Good One

Profile pictures aren’t going to be a make or break point for some potential employers, but odds are most of them will appreciate being able to match a face to the profile they just read. As such, it’s a good idea to have a respectable looking picture mated to your profile. It may be a simple profile shot of your face or something that shows a bit of charisma.
Just make sure you’ve got your hair sorted out and there’s nothing of disrepute in the photo. I would personally advise against taking a photo of yourself dressed up in a football jersey with face paint–that’s better suited to Facebook.
Avoid bad lighting, stick with a simple smile and pick the broccoli out of your teeth. You don’t have to look like a Hollywood actor, just a person with a friendly grin.

Finally, Keep Your Image Clean

Avoid typos and don’t tell people what you ate for lunch. Your political opinions are your personal laundry: keep them hidden. Don’t swear. Don’t insult other people. Don’t post links to videos that show people farting on their cat. LinkedIn is a professional website, so you should conduct yourself as a professional.
Putting things on LinkedIn that are better placed on Facebook and Twitter may only serve to sour your reputation and turn off employers.

Over To You
Do you have any tips or tricks to help someone spiff up their Profile Summary? Did I miss something? Do you disagree with what I said?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section (no WordPress account needed) or send me a message: contact info can be found in the About Tab.


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