One of the most common errors I see in LinkedIn profiles is the absence of a summary. An educated guess, based on job seekers I talk to and reports from other resume writers, is that many people underestimate the importance of the summary. It’s also the hardest part of the profile to write, so if pressed for time and underwhelmed by its relevance, a job seeker is likely to omit it.
The summary is the heart of your LinkedIn profile. It’s your chance to set the tone of your profile and tell prospective employers who you are and what you can do for them. You have a total of 2000 characters to work with (including spaces), so you can’t write the Great American Novel here. What you can do is introduce yourself, talk directly to the person you want to reach — your future boss, and highlight the most impressive points in your own resume.
Which brings up another misconception: Your formal resume and your LinkedIn profile should not be exactly the same. That’s one reason not to have LinkedIn create your profile out of the resume. Your profile and resume should be cut of the same cloth and complement each other. The numbers should certainly agree, but they are two different documents. A resume is very clipped, to the point, just the facts. It doesn’t even have subjects at the beginning of the sentences! Your profile, on the other hand, is less formal, using first person (I), and more conversational in tone.
You can think of the summary as a kind of cover letter. As the centerpiece of your profile, it is your opportunity to capture the heart of your future employer. What is your new boss longing to hear about you?
- What is your best feature as an employee?
- Why does your current boss love you?
- What did you win the big award for?
- What is your most impressive project to date?
- How has your career path led you to where you are today?
I’m not suggesting you answer all of these questions in your summary, but you can use a couple of them as springboards for the ideas you’d like to get across to your new employer.
If writing your LinkedIn profile sounds like less fun than a root canal, contact me to talk about my writing it for you. I can’t promise it will be highly entertaining, but my clients don’t generally ask for anesthetic.