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5 Secrets to a Knockout LinkedIn Profile Summary

By Laura Smith-Proulx

Want to quickly distinguish yourself from job-hunting competition on LinkedIn? Look no further than your LinkedIn Summary.The "elevator pitch" of your social media profile, a powerful Summary can compel employers to take a second look at you for their needs.

Crafting Your Knockout LinkedIn Summary

So how do you craft a knockout message of brand value for your LinkedIn Summary?

First, you’ll need to master the concept of writing for an online audience and take the principles of SEO into consideration, then wrap your content into an attractive package.

To rework your LinkedIn Profile Summary into a power-packed description that elicits attention from recruiters, start fresh with the following steps:

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1.  Pump up the keyword volume.

LinkedIn SEO doesn’t have to be a mysterious concept. Basically, to rank strongly in searches for employees with your skills, you’ll need to add more Connections (which helps your Profile become more "important" in LinkedIn’s perspective), and you’ll need to use better keywords.

The keywords most important on LinkedIn are what employers use to find a candidate like you: job titles, skills, industry names, and other related terminology.

As an example, an Operations Director who finds production, Lean Six Sigma, manufacturing, process improvement, and cost savings in job descriptions could add this achievement to her Summary:

Leveraged Lean Six Sigma for process improvement and 31% cost savings on manufacturing production line upon promotion to Director of Manufacturing Operations.

The benefit of keywords? They’ll bring your Profile more traffic from interested employers, and when woven into your success stories, demonstrate how you used these skills to produce results.

With space for 2,000 characters available, your Summary is a great place to inject keywords into each sentence, repeating them for greater density.

[Related: Double Your LinkedIn Visitor Traffic with Keywords and Choosing Exactly the Right Keywords for You.]

2.  Skip the dense paragraphs.

Dense paragraphs of 4 lines or longer are hard to skim in a LinkedIn Summary. Remember, you are writing for the web, not a piece of paper!

Instead of plopping your long-winded resume summary or bio into LinkedIn, break up those large paragraphs. Short, easy-to-digest sentences reel in all types of readers, especially those with short attention spans, and bullet points highlight important information for people scanning a webpage.

In addition, shortening your descriptions of career success stories will also force you to write tight, keyword-rich content, which is perfect for online reading.

As an example, this LinkedIn Summary for a Chief Operating Officer ("COO") uses brief statements to outline the scope of his authority and describe career accomplishments:

After my recruitment as XYZ Company’s first COO, I led 500+ reports to deliver:

  • $32M revenue improvement from new sales channels
  • Strategic alliances with manufacturing and supplier partners
  • M&A integration for acquisition of AB Company

3.  Use borders to break up lines of text.

Did you realize you can add borders of varying sizes and thickness on LinkedIn? By using special characters (+, _, ~, #, among others), a border can be used to "box off" or distinguish important aspects of your background and qualifications.

The following example shows how to use borders when introducing a new section on your Profile:
===============================================
Achievements as CTO and Technology Director include:
===============================================

You can also add a border as a "title" for a group of achievements:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Manufacturing Strategy
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
• Decreased production cycle time, with accompanying 16% drop in costs.
• Sourced global suppliers meeting stringent quality standards.

A border can be used to add emphasis to a specific sentence:
▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
As a COO leading manufacturing industry turnarounds, I’ve created millions in profit.

4.  Give readers an idea of your ROI.

If you are hired, emphasize the employer's Return on Investment (ROI). Your LinkedIn Summary offers one of the only glimpses into your personal brand – so make it memorable!

  • What business problems do you solve?
  • How are you unique among others in your field?

Instead of copying "Highly accomplished professional with more than 15 years of sales expertise" from your resume, kick things up a notch with "I’ve brought employers a competitive edge (and up to 53% more revenue) by building executive relationships inside Oracle, Bank of America, Sony, and AIG Insurance."

Adding up your years of experience or rattling off a list of your skills doesn’t help employers figure out where you add value.

Tell them – in powerful, keyword-rich sentences that include metrics – why you’ve advanced in your career, and how you can meet their needs:

I’ve earned quick promotions for improving software revenue reporting, trimming headcount 28%, and implementing new IT systems… preparing me for a Controller role in the tech industry.

As IT Operations and NOC Manager, I’m considered a go-to expert for global connectivity strategy, eliminating 24% in vendor costs and improving bandwidth between Frankfurt and Chicago offices.

Note the keyword content (NOC Manager, software revenue, IT systems, Controller, IT Operations, global connectivity) leveraged throughout these sentences.

5.  Convey your ROI in first-person language.

Social media is all about engagement and relationship-building, right? Then foster some rapport with the people who read your Summary.

First-person language ("My work as a CFO affords the opportunity to become involved in complex financial reporting and modeling") turns your Summary into a conversation, rather than a stilted, uncomfortable description ("Mary launched her career in supply chain management at ABC Company").

The other benefit of writing your Summary in first-person? You can inject some energy and personality into your thoughts, showing readers why you’d make a great connection or employee:

You might believe a CIO’s job is to select the best technology, but I ensure the business need drives this decision, whether the goal is faster service, better quality, or more profit.

Sales has been my passion ever since I realized I could help businesses select the right enterprise software tools – adding continual value to customers long after the deal is closed.

The Bottom Line

Your LinkedIn Summary is a make-or-break section of your Profile!

Take every opportunity to add a meaningful picture of your ROI in this section, with extra steps to boost your keyword content. The result will be better findability and renewed employer interest.

Understanding Keywords:

Keywords in LinkedIn Profiles:


About the author...

Job-Hunt's LinkedIn for Job Search Expert Laura Smith-Proulx, Executive Director of An Expert Resume, is an award-winning executive resume writer, national columnist, author, LinkedIn and SEO enthusiast, and past recruiter. Laura is author of How to Get Hired Faster: 60+ Proven Tips and Strategies to Access the Hidden Job Market. Connect with Laura on Twitter at @ResumeExpert, on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/laurasmithproulx, and on Google Plus.


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