After you’ve put together the basics of your profile, it’s time to focus on two very important sections: Your summary and skills.
Out of your entire LinkedIn profile, your summary is the section that has the most potential to either wow readers, or leave them unimpressed. In order to make sure that you’re accomplishing the first rather than the second result, follow these guidelines:
1) DON’T Leave It Blank: Though this may seem obvious, you would be surprised at how many LinkedIn users skip this section. Don’t make this mistake. This is your opportunity to tell the reader everything about you that makes you a fantastic candidate, and why they should hire you. If you have 2,000 characters to emphasize how great you are, then use them. Although writing a good summary can seem daunting, putting in the effort to make it impressive will differentiate your profile from the rest
2) Break It Up: Use headlines, sub-headers, bullet points and white space to break up your summary so that it looks less intimidating to read. Just because you pack your summary full of great information, doesn’t mean that it should look like a miniature novel that scares readers away rather than invites them to learn about you in the first place. After all, when was the last time that you saw a massive block of text and got excited to read every last line? You probably can’t remember
3) Tell a Story: Don’t just list off who you are and what you’ve done–go to the effort of engaging your readers about not only what your credentials are, but who you are as a worker and a person. Now when we say this, we don’t mean starting off with “It all started at the hospital where I was born…”–keep it related to your professional history. Choose the angle that you want readers to see you from, and go from there. After reading from top to bottom, they should have a sense of who you are, and how you approach the work that you do.
4) Make It Pop: Again, this may sound obvious, but this is your chance to stand out from the other millions (literally, millions) of profiles on LinkedIn. If you fill your summary with generic phrases that are cliche, mundane, or just painfully common, then you are wasting your time. Put thought into every sentence that you write, making sure that it serves a purpose and contributes to the brand that you’re building for yourself.
5) Use Keywords Strategically: Sprinkle your summary with key search terms that will have your profile popping up when searches are performed; the more people who stumble across your profile, the better. Look at the different positions that you might be interested in as well, and use terms that are included in those job descriptions to describe yourself. If the companies that you’re applying to want innovative thinkers with can-do attitudes, then it would behoove you to include those terms when describing yourself. Remember too to think like an employer–if you were looking to hire someone, what words would stick out to you?
6) Focus On Accomplishments: The summary is your chance to brag a little (within reason, of course–maintain a balance between pride and humility). It’s important to remember that employers who are reading your summary are looking for workers to take their company to new heights. Show them that you’ve successfully accomplished tasks in the past, and that you can do it for them in the future.
7) Include Mulitmedia: Although LinkedIn offers you a chance to include outside links in various places throughout your profile, the summary section is perhaps one of the most strategic. If you’ve got an online portfolio, a professional blog, or a site that links to past work that you’ve done, include that hyperlink. Outside material is interesting for readers to browse through, and provides credible proof that your work actually does reflect everything that you say about yourself.
8) First vs Third Person: There are many conflicting viewpoints about whether it is better to write your summary in first or third person. Some users claim that third person is better, because writing about yourself and your accomplishments in first person sounds too pretentious, like outright bragging. However, others argue that writing in first person allows the reader to feel more connected to you, as if they’re hearing it from you in person. This is more of a stylistic, personal choice. Whichever one you choose, just be sure that it aligns with the message you want to send, and that you have a reason for writing it the way you do.
Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be sure to be on your way to an outstanding summary section. Below are some examples of good summaries to get you thinking.
1) Kristina’s summary tells a story that both engages readers and informs them about herself as a worker and an individual. She effectively brands herself by focusing on her mindset and experience as a designer, ensuring that as readers continue to scroll through her profile, they remember her for her work in design.
2) Claudine’s summary focuses on her accomplishments throughout her career history, so that when readers finish reading, they immediately have a taste for what she can do and what work suits her. Her summary is also brimming with keywords that are likely to come up in employers’ searches, ensuring that her profile will fall before the eyes of potential employers often.
Skills & Expertise
The Skills & Expertise section is a great way to showcase what you excel in, and prove through the endorsements of your connections that you do them well. When choosing which skills to showcase, be sure to choose skills that are relevant to what you want readers to take away from your profile. For instance, if you’re getting a minor in history and know all about every war that’s ever been fought, but you’re searching for a job in computer science, save your extensive history knowledge for the Interests section, and stick to skills that are relevant to what you’re looking for.
Be specific with the skills that you list. When filling in your skills, LinkedIn will provide automatic options for you to consider including. However, just because LinkedIn suggests them, doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily the best option to choose. Just like in your summary, stray away from being vague or generic. For example, listing “writing” as a skill is too general; listing “travel writing”, “creative writing”, or “academic writing” is much more effective. Instead of listing “Research”, consider instead “Market Research”, “Legal Research”, or “Qualitative Research”. These skills tell readers much more about you and create a stronger impression.
Ex: Instead of listing general, blanket terms that apply to her major, Kristina lists a handful of specific skills that apply to different areas of her job field
Remember to continue thinking about how to brand yourself as you build your profile, so that when a reader gets all the way to the bottom of your page, they can’t get you and your brand off their minds!
One way to accomplish this effectively is to pay close attention to your skills. Right from the top of your profile, you should be emphasizing your strengths, and what you can best do for an employer. You can start to weave a common theme throughout your profile by including key skills in your headline, sprinkling those same skills strategically throughout your summary, emphasizing past positions and experience that you’ve had that have utilized those skills, and then including them in the actual Skills & Expertise section. The goal is that if you’re a strong writer (for example), by the time a reader reaches the end of your profile, the fact that you’d be a great candidate for a position that involves a lot of writing should stick out in their mind.
That’s it for this week’s challenge! If you haven’t already done so alrady, remember to join the Boot Camp Fall 2013 group on LinkedIn to register. Our Career Consultants, CCO Ambassadors, and CCO Interns will evaluate profiles for completion of challenges. Stay tuned for next week’s challenge, featuring.