How To Nail Your LinkedIn Summary

LinkedIn has more than 500 million users on its professional networking platform. This means you’re competing with an insane number of people for attention from recruiters, peers, clients, and even the odd stalker. This is the reason why it’s important to pay close attention to your LinkedIn profile. Aside from your headline (the description below your name) your LinkedIn summary is the first thing people read when they click on your page, making it one of the most important elements of your profile.

“Your summary is kind of your place to bring together your story and give context to your experience. Once someone reads it, they should have a better idea about you,” says Kylie Chown, LinkedIn expert, author and trainer.

“It’s particularly helpful if you have different experiences and it may not make a lot of sense [straight away],” she says. “This where you can use your summary to explain how your experience comes together.”

Just remember this about writing a summary: there’s a fine line between coming across as arrogant and confident.

So, you’re awesome – great! Now, here are some tips on how you can show that to prospective employers on your LinkedIn summary.

#1 Think about your audience

The way you structure and write your summary will depend on what you want to achieve. Do you want to be approached for a new job? Do you want to come across as an expert in your field? Do you just want to connect with new clients? Or do you just want an online presence?

While it depends on where you are in your career and what your goals are, your summary should reflect that. Most people use the LinkedIn summary to talk about themselves and they should to a certain degree. Chown advises that one thing people should keep in mind is the person who is reading your profile and what they would want to see. Write your summary with that specific person type in mind.

“It’s an opportunity for you to build your personal brand and take control of it,” she says.

#2 Make it searchable

Let’s face it – in this digital world the majority of us are guilty of Googling a person before we meet them in real life, and what we find online often becomes an anchor point for how we see someone. This includes employers, where eight in ten have admitted to Googling potential employees before they hire them. This is why you need to ensure that your search results match up with the image that you’re hoping to put out in public.

There are millions of accountants out there, so you may want to think about making your profile more specific.

“With a poorly written LinkedIn summary, people miss the opportunity to give a good first impression,” Chown says.

There are a few tricks to make sure that your results actually do show up in the first place. The first, according to Chown, is getting your search engine optimisation right. In other words, making sure pepper your summary with as many searchable keywords as possible. Don’t go overboard, though – it still needs to be readable and sound natural.

“To make your LinkedIn summary SEO-friendly you must identify what words your ideal audience will use to search,” Chown says. “Just remember that the words you might use, might be different to theirs.”

You might also need to make your keywords more targeted if you’re in a competitive industry. For example, there are millions of accountants out there, so you may want to think about making it more specific so it says “tax accountant” instead.

#3 Show don’t tell

As awesome as you say you are, the person reading your LinkedIn summary can only take your word for it. This is why you need to be able to prove it.

Much like how you would write a cover letter, the way you phrase your skills and experience in your LinkedIn summary needs to show how you’re awesome. For instance, instead of saying “I care about the community”, you can say “I volunteer at x, y, and z.”

“Your experience needs to be tangible by referencing things as evidence,” Chown says.

#4 Have a call-to-action

So, you’ve managed to hold the attention of your dream reader, now what? Chown says a lot of people miss the opportunity to use their LinkedIn summary to include a call-to-action, as many assume that automatically the person would want to connect with them, but that’s not necessarily always the case.

She suggests perhaps including a line that says something like, “I’m open to new connections, connect with me.” This will give them a clear line of action so they aren’t left wondering what’s the best thing to do next.

Once you’ve written a killer summary, check out these other ways to pimp your LinkedIn profile.

Aimee Chanthadavong is a Sydney-based journalist and content producer. When she’s not writing about politics and technology, she spends her time consumed in food, travel and lifestyle stories. Find her occasional tweets at @achanthadavong.