By Meg Guiseppi
Over the years, I've reviewed the LinkedIn Profiles of many job seekers. A great percentage of those Profiles have non-existent or severely anemic Summary sections, even though plenty of evidence supports the importance of a solid LinkedIn Summary.
These job seekers are neglecting a golden opportunity to tell their personal brand story.
Maybe they're not actively job seeking, or just beginning a search. No matter, most anyone with a career or doing business in any way needs a complete LinkedIn Profile.
No job is permanent these days. Those who are easily found online because their LinkedIn Profiles are fully populated with keyword-rich content are way ahead of the game... should they suddenly be out of a job.
The Summary section is where you tell your personal brand story, differentiating the value you offer over your competitors.
LinkedIn provides various sections – Professional Headline, Experience, Skills and Endorsements, Education, etc. – which you’ll use to showcase and describe your many "hard" skills, strengths and achievements. Think of the Summary section similarly. But, don't stop there.
For my clients, I go beyond just the hard skills and weave in "soft" skills too, treating this section like a biography. This approach affords the opportunity for "storytelling."
By "storytelling," I do not mean creating fiction. For job search, storytelling means sharing examples of real situations in your career.
Through storytelling, you can highlight the qualities and personal attributes that show you are a good fit for the companies and organizations you are targeting... that is, showcase the "personal" part of your personal brand.
[To define your personal brand, read My 10-Step Personal Branding Worksheet.]
Storytelling allows you to make a more vibrant connection with people than the dry resume-speak too often used here. Try to get across what you’re like to work with and how you get things done. Generate some chemistry!
Keep in mind that you need to include both your hard skills (or relevant keywords) to boost your visibility and personal SEO (Search Engine Optimization) . . . AND your softer skills, or personal brand attributes.
LinkedIn allows 2,000 characters and spaces in this section. You may be surprised by how much you can do with that.
As you’re compiling and writing this content, remember to pack in plenty of your relevant keywords and phrases, which you uncovered in researching your target employers.
The content in your LinkedIn Summary needs to capture attention and compel recruiters and hiring decision makers to consider you as a viable candidate, and want to reach out to you and learn more about you. It should make them want to read your entire Profile.
Remember that a branded LinkedIn Profile does not replace your resume. It serves several purposes in conjunction with your resume, including:
When you have done the analysis to define your brand and determine what you want to present, follow these tips for creating a powerful LinkedIn Summary:
As with your resume, the LinkedIn Summary section is written in first-person voice. Typically resumes don't include the word "I." Instead, first-person is implied through the verbs.
But, in your LinkedIn Summary, it's a very good idea to speak from the first person ("I am...") to personalize the content and better engage readers. Referring to yourself by name makes it clear you are new to LinkedIn or inexperienced.
Make sure you include the relevant keywords you found when you did company and industry research to develop content for your branded resume. Weave these keywords into your value and metrics driven statements. The more relevant keywords you include, the more potential traffic you'll draw to your Profile.
[See Job-Hunt's Guide to the Best Keywords for Your Job Search.]
Include a stand-alone personal brand statement to make the content come alive, generate chemistry, and give a feel for your personality. Here's an example of one for a Senior Project/Program Management Consultant:
Known as a decisive, intuitive leader with "get it done" smarts, I turn chaos into harmony by leveraging technology and data to improve functionality. You can presume a short ramp up time from me, clear and concise status updates, and execution beyond your expectations . . . even under less than ideal circumstances.
Keep the content in short paragraphs (no more than 3-4 lines) to make it easier to read. Tightly-packed content can be dizzying to readers and can keep them from absorbing all of it. Keep in mind that people may be viewing your LinkedIn Profile on very small, hand-held screens.
One strategy is to start the Summary with a call to action, such as this example for the same Senior Project/Program Management Consultant as above:
Are you looking for a Six Sigma Black Belt business transformation expert who brings greater value to high-growth organizations through broad-based expertise in Process Design, Financial Analysis, IT/Data Systems, and Risk Exposure?
Use short bullet points to distinguish - and draw attention to - specific contributions with metrics, such as:
Don't rely entirely on the built-in spellcheck. Proofread the content very carefully before posting it. A word like "manger" is a common misspelling of "manager," but it won't be flagged as a misspelling because, unfortunately, "manger" is a real word.
Poor grammar and misspellings can quickly sabotage your chances.
Give yourself permission to be bold and authentic in this content. You’re not boasting. Think of it this way – you’re educating people about what makes you a good-fit candidate for the employers you’re targeting.
Meg Guiseppi, Job-Hunt's Personal Branding Expert and 20+ year careers industry veteran, has earned 10 certifications, including Reach Certified Personal Branding Strategist, Reach Social Branding Analyst – LinkedIn Profile Strategist, and Certified Executive Resume Master. Meg is the author of "23 Ways You Sabotage Your Executive Job Search and How Your Brand Will Help You Land." Connect with Meg at ExecutiveCareerBrand.com for c-suite personal branding and executive job search help and on Google+ and Twitter (@MegGuiseppi).