Neglecting your LinkedIn profile is like neglecting to exercise: it may not cause you problems in the short term, but you can bet it will bite you in the butt over the long-haul.
Like exercise, your LinkedIn work is never done.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to focus in on each section, improving your technique to reap greater benefits.
Your LinkedIn Summary section is one of the most critical sections of your profile, it’s an area where you can get a maximum return on effort .. if you know what you’re doing.
So what’s the difference between a profile summary that produces yawns and one that’s irresistible?
1. A Great LinkedIn Profile Summary Shows & Tells.
Here’s a secret most recruiters won’t tell you: if your LinkedIn summary describes you as a ‘highly motivated leader with extensive experience and a passionate, results-driven approach,’ you’re pretty much asking for an eye-roll.
Recruiters can see straight through overused buzzwords and hollow, self-appointed titles.
Simply stating how great you are does nothing to demonstrate the depth of experience and personal insight recruiters look for when hiring for the best roles.
Rather than telling the reader your greatest career hits, take a page from your pre-school days and embrace the ‘show and tell.’
Start by weaving quantitative and qualitative achievements throughout your profile summary, demonstrating the qualities and experiences that are most valued in your industry or function.
If you find yourself struggling to come up with a list of achievements, remember that not all achievements have to be backed by numbers: “Selected among peers for a competitive secondment leading Program Y” is just as telling as “Achieved 110% to target in FY14.”
2. A Great LinkedIn Profile Summary Is Relatable & Human.
Face it: nobody wants to work with an automaton; even those really cool Japanese robots are more ‘strange curiosity’ than a viable customer service solution.
Which is why I’m always so confounded by (the vast majority of) LinkedIn profile summaries that are beige, vanilla, and boring.
In my experience, people get so caught up in sounding professional, they shoot themselves in the foot by making themselves indistinguishable from everyone else…not exactly a positive quality in a highly competitive job market.
So how do you set yourself apart as likeable, competent and professional without also inducing a strong urge for an afternoon nap?
The key is to weave a story throughout your LinkedIn summary.
When I work with clients to create a LinkedIn profile that reflects their personality and brand, my consultations approach almost Braveheart lengths: I spend a massive amount of time digging into a client’s personality, drivers, strengths, problem-solving style, accomplishments, USP .. the list goes on.
I want to know if my client has wanted to work in marketing since she was 12, if he became an accountant because he finds the innate precision of numbers satisfying, or what makes her leap out of bed in the morning.
Those are the personality gems I weave throughout profiles: stories from someone’s life and experience that offer insight into who they are and what they’re like to work with.
While there’s no step-by-step recipe for adding a human element to your LinkedIn profile, try to write using first-person ‘I’ language, add at least one ‘story’ driven paragraph and one keyword-laden ‘professional experience’ paragraph, and use less formal language than in your résumé.
3. A Great LinkedIn Profile Summary Is Easy To Scan & Read.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: recruitment is fast-paced and hectic.
The nature of the job, combined with the fact that the way we read has been completely transformed by the Internet, means recruiters are 99.9% likely to only scan your LinkedIn profile, looking for keywords and chunks of information they find relevant.
If they like what they see and invite you for a meeting, they might go back and read in more detail. Emphasis on ‘might.’
What does this mean for you?
The most irresistible and moreish of LinkedIn summaries are the ones where the recruiter doesn’t have to work hard: short, snappy sentences and paragraphs, and keywords and phrases that are easy to spot.
In other words, you need to follow the rules of writing for the web.
My team tends to write between 4 and 6 paragraphs for our clients’ LinkedIn summaries. Each paragraph is between 1 and 5 sentences, no more.
And we mix the paragraphs up: some are more focused on the client’s story, drivers, and insight into their personality, and others focus on their career, duties, skills and accomplishments.
Please don’t take this as a recommendation to dumb it down. Good business writing is concise, precise and easily digestible. Think readable, not simple.
If you’ve put any of these ideas into practice with your own LinkedIn profile, I’d love to hear about it.
As a final thought (and shameless plug), when in doubt, call a professional (cough-cough, nudge-nudge). With professional social networks like LinkedIn providing 59% of the global recruitment industry’s best hires, it’s too important to muck up.