MBA grads and professionals, to make your LinkedIn profile rock, every section of it has to stand out. I wrote about the LinkedIn photo and branding headline and how they can contribute to your personal branding. Now I’ll address one of the most important LinkedIn sections, the summary. In my mind this section is neglected by far too many people, greatly reducing their personal branding potential.
Let’s look at three points to consider when branding yourself with your LinkedIn summary.
Don’t recite your résumé summary. Some jobseekers, against the advice of Professional Résumé Writer Tracy Parish, use their summary as a dumping ground for their résumé’s summary. In other words, they copy and paste the summary from their résumé to their LinkedIn summary. Is this utter laziness or poor branding? Both.
Tracy writes, “The summary section on LinkedIn is probably one of the main places people miss out on a great opportunity to showcase what they have to offer. This is NOT the place to copy and paste your résumé, and it’s not the place to skimp on critical information. As a jobseeker, it is critically important to create a ‘Wow Factor’….”
One major difference between the two summaries is the number of characters allowed on LinkedIn and the number of characters your résumé’s summary should contain. You are allowed 2,000 characters for your LinkedIn profile. So use them! On a résumé this number of characters would take up three-quarters of a page, much too long for a two-page document. A proper number of characters for a résumé should not exceed 1,000 if written well.
You have a voice with LinkedIn. You’re given more freedom of expression on LinkedIn; use it! Be creative and make the employer want to read on. This is what effective branding does, which includes your voice. It should be some of your best writing and can be written in first person or even third person.
Most pundits lean toward first person, as it expresses a more personal side to you. A summary written in first person seems to invite others into the writer’s life. To me, the first person voice is more natural. Look at Jason Alba’s summary written in first person. It is personal and makes you feel like you know him. Jason is the author I’m on LinkedIn, Now What??? and founder of JibberJabber.com.
Not many people pull off the third person voice well. In my opinion, the third-person voice can sound stilted; but if done right, it can make a powerful branding impact. Dan Schawbel is one person who makes it work, primarily because he is a reputable branding expert. His Summary brands him extremely well.
Decide how you want to deliver your personal branding. How you brand yourself through your summary depends on the type of work you’re pursuing, your skill set, the story you want to tell, what you want to reveal about your personality, and other factors.
Darrell Dizolglio, a Professional Résumé Writer who also writes LinkedIn profiles, says it depends on his clients’ talents and career goals. “I have found by helping hundreds of clients over the years that the greatest results come when you use the LinkedIn summary to open yourself up to multiple opportunities/positions, while your résumés can zero in on just one position very effectively. Naturally, you can/should have multiple targeted résumés out there at work for you. However, you are allowed only one LinkedIn summary per person.”
If you want to state your accomplishments in the summary, this can be an effective way of grabbing potential employers’ attention. This is the “Wow” factor of which Tracy speaks. Some prefer to use the work history section for presenting their accomplishments, and, in fact, the history section should be all about accomplishments. Save the mundane duties for your Job Scope on your résumé.
Wendy Enelow , author of numerous job search books and a world renowned Careers Industry Leader, gives us her take on using the LinkedIn summary for telling a story. “If I’m working with a client who has a really great career story to tell, then I’ll definitely use the LinkedIn summary to tell the story. Perhaps they were promoted 8 times in 10 years with IBM, or moved rapidly from one company to another based on their strong financial contributions to each organization.”
Martin Yate says it all with his summary. He combines an out-of-the-gate introduction of himself, with a little bit of philosophy on the direction of your job search. Martin is the author of the Knock ‘em Dead series. Here’s a snippet from his summary:
“I make it my business to teach you how to navigate [the career search]. Over the years, it’s become my mission to show you how to survive and prosper through the twists and turns of a 50-year career. Whether it is in a book, on the radio, during a webinar or a video – my goal is to provide advice, actionable takeaways, and integrated strategies, because you have no time to waste and just one chance to get it right!”
As for my summary, I decided to use more of a philosophical/functional approach, describing my strongest skill areas. I put most of my effort into the summary section of my profile but don’t skimp on my work history. While every section is important, it is a heinous crime to neglect the summary section of your profile. Next I’ll talk about the work history of your LinkedIn profile.
Bob McIntosh is a career trainer at the Career Center of Lowell, where he leads more than 20 workshops on the career search. He is often the person jobseekers and staff go to for advice on the job search. Bob has gained a reputation as the LinkedIn expert in and around the career center. As well, he critiques resumes and conducts mock interviews. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. These he considers to be his greatest accomplishments. Please visit his blog and connect with him on LinkedIn.