Make your LinkedIn profile work for you. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
LinkedIn is an incredibly valuable resource, not just for job-hunting and networking, but also as a platform to develop your professional profile and image.
One of the biggest challenges you'll face when you create your LinkedIn profile is deciding what to include in that dreaded "summary" section, which has a limit of 2,000 characters.
Your summary is usually the first thing a profile viewer sees, which makes it one of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile – a good summary encourages readers to scroll down and learn more about you.
Here are some tips to help you create a great LinkedIn summary:
Blank is not an option
If you have limited experience, you may feel inclined to neglect writing a summary, convinced that you don't have anything to share.
However, a summary is a great place for you to talk about your future goals and aspirations, which can help you when you're trying to network or land your first job.
Even if you aren't actively using LinkedIn or looking for work, having a complete profile shows that you appreciate the importance of online presence and self-representation.
It's important to remember that your LinkedIn profile is always visible, and that leaving your summary blank sends a strong message to a prospective employer.
Tip: Identify the field and industry you're interested in working in, then identify different ways you're building the skill-set for success – even if that's just through research and self-teaching.
Use up that character limit
You have about 2,000 characters to share with the LinkedIn world. Put them to good use. The summary section of your LinkedIn profile is your time to shine!
Share things with your network that don't fit in other sections of your profile.
For example, you may possess unique skills or experience that you haven't used in a workplace context – talk about them here.
Your summary is also a great place to show some personal character. While LinkedIn is an online representation of your professional self, your summary can show off some of the traits and attitude that make you unique (and a promising hire).
Tip: Look over job applications you've sent out in the past. What do you wish you could add to your resume or cover letter? What would you have liked to "say" directly to the reader? Your summary can be a platform for that info.
Provide variety, but make it flow
Your LinkedIn summary can provide lots of different information about you, provided you use a clear structure.
Many people don’t have the time to read a giant paragraph of text, so break your summary into different sections with bullet points and sub-headings. These make your summary easy to read and help a reader identify information at a glance.
Having trouble getting started? Look for inspiration! Check out the LinkedIn summaries of professionals in your field. Do you notice certain details or styling appear frequently? Take note.
Tip: Evaluate your profile as you work on the different sections of your summary. Does the information in your summary act as an introduction and a "funnel" to the rest of your profile?
Keep your audience in mind
As with any writing task, it's important to think about the people who will be reading your work, and plan the message you want to send them.
Identify the goal of your LinkedIn profile and use that information to plan your approach.
Think about how you can tailor your summary to speak to your audience, and what they would want to know about you. Don't rehash everything in your profile,but provide enough information that a reader comes away from your summary with a clear understanding of your major skills, what you are searching for, and a sense of your individual character.
Tip: Ask for feedback from a family member with professional experience or a friend who knows about your career goals. They may not be experts in your field, but they will probably spot details you'd like to change, or push you to share more of your skills and accomplishments.
Write in the first-person
You may encounter LinkedIn summaries written in the third-person. Use the first-person instead.
Reading a summary in first-person is more engaging and natural to a reader, because it sounds more like you talking about yourself.
Using first-person allows for your profile to be more personable, and doesn’t make the reader feel as if someone else created it for you.
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