How to Write a Good LinkedIn Summary With Examples

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What makes a LinkedIn profile summary a good one? How can yours help get you noticed by hiring managers? While they may briefly see your name and profile picture first, the summary of a LinkedIn profile is what the vast majority of viewers first examine in depth. The diversity and richness of experience possessed by its 467 million users is staggering. A great summary provides your professional essence to readers, and if it intrigues them, they will keep reading.

Many of the summaries read like the summary on a resume, and this is understandable: the LinkedIn profile does resemble a resume. But the superficial similarity is problematic. Using the same summary on a resume and a LinkedIn profile summary does everyone a disservice.

The resume is ideally customized for a specific position for which a job seeker is applying. By contrast, a LinkedIn profile summary must subsume the universe of positions for which a candidate wishes to be considered. Therefore, a resume and its summary must be specific and targeted; a profile summary must not.

Tips for Writing a Great LinkedIn Profile Summary

When a recruiter searches on LinkedIn for profiles, an off-target profile summary means the job seeker's profile will not appear in a search result. The impact is clear: the job seeker is never contacted, no matter how strong a match he or she may actually be, and an opportunity never materializes for him or her.

Similarly, that recruiter will go on to work with another candidate who is less strong a match for the role. Everyone loses out.

So how can one write a good LinkedIn summary? Here are questions that will help you get the best result from those 2,000 characters:

Who Is the Audience?

In order to maximize a LinkedIn profile's attractiveness, it is critical to understand the reader and his or her priorities.

Readers will often be a recruiter, HR professional, or hiring manager: the precise people a job seeker wants to impress. So, if the purpose is to impress, the desired content should follow suit.

When writing a resume, the intended audience is another person — but the truth is that when it comes to a profile summary, the writing is more for search engines. Recruiters and others search LinkedIn to find talent matching their needs, so turning up in these search results is clearly desirable. There is an entire science to this discipline: search engine optimization.

Although the specifics of search engine optimization (SEO) are beyond the scope of this article, the key concept is a simple one: keywords and their variations. Anyone who has used a search engine understands how important the search terms can be. And for the same reason, these reasons are highly relevant in a job search.

Which Keywords Should You Include?

Identifying the right keywords can seem daunting at first, but there are too often overlooked resources available:

1. Go Up the Org Chart

If there is a more senior, well-respected professional in your field, look at that person's LinkedIn profile. Copy and paste his or her summary into your favorite word cloud site (Wordle.net is a popular one) and see what keywords are most prominent.

Do the same with the summary you are currently using, and compare the results. Repeat this process with others and a pattern should emerge.

2. Check Out Job Postings

This may be a surprising resource but job postings are also content that is job-oriented and keyword-based, and hence is also a great resource for the savvy job seeker. Once you identify what your next job title should be, look at job postings for the job title and its variations. From there, review the terms that appear often, as above.

3. Tying It Together

It goes without saying that one should avoid keywords that cannot be applied truthfully. In addition, a great profile not only has the right keywords, but is also appealing to a human reader. Take the time to pull them together into a satisfying whole.

How to Optimize the Appearance of Your Summary

There are two major ways in which a LinkedIn summary will be viewed: desktop or mobile.

Depending on which platform, only so many characters will appear of the profile summary:

  • Desktop: the first 220 characters are immediately visible, with the rest requiring a user click on View More
  • Mobile: the first 92 characters are immediately visible

Because viewers will need to take an extra step to see this other content each of those first 92 and 220 characters must pull their weight: 58 percent of LinkedIn's users are viewing it via mobile (LinkedIn 2016 Q1 quarterly results), so maximizing the impact of those first 92 will be especially important. An easy way to identify the 92nd and 220th characters is to use a spreadsheet with the =Len formula in Excel or Google Sheets.

These two broad categories are technically further divisible by platform: on desktop, what web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge/IE, or Safari); on mobile, which OS (Android, iOS or Windows). Sometimes, website information is not displayed uniformly across each platform, OS, or screen size. However, differences are likely to be minor and in the vast majority of cases, difficult to discern.

What Hiring Managers Look For

When hiring for permanent positions, hiring managers and other decision-makers have a strong preference for prospective employees who are a culture fit: those who can easily fit into the team's dynamic. Some teams are of a more congenial character, and prefer collaborative interactions. Other groups are comfortable with direct confrontation when views differ. Yet others prioritize individual initiative to a greater or lesser extent.

Whatever the case, every recruiter and many hiring managers have questions they ask to gauge how strong a culture fit a candidate may be, with those less strong a fit being weeded out by those questions. But as importantly: recruiters are fed up with all of the detail-oriented, motivated professionals. We have read these words far too many times in far too many cases where these terms clearly do not belong.

Be Authentic: Don't be afraid to communicate something authentic and personal: that can make an important difference.

Review LinkedIn Profile Examples

These examples are the beginnings of LinkedIn summaries that illustrate these principles.

Business Analyst Summary

A business analyst, Reggie suspects that due to an impending acquisition of his employer, his position will be eliminated soon. As he is pulling together a resume, he begins looking online for other BA job postings, and begins to notice that at least 33 percent of the job postings mention user acceptance testing — but in the office, it's always been referred to as user sign-off testing. He makes a mental note to verify what language is unique to his current employer vs. what is widely-accepted.

Driven BA whose business requirement documents & technical specifications *always* pass UAT! I'm a high energy, experienced business analyst, passionate about working hand-in-hand with developers & users to produce requirements and specifications accurately reflect the business need and are technologically achievable. We will not over-engineer: the true test of successfully eliciting requirements, producing business requirement documents, and releasing technical specifications is when the user acceptance testing (UAT) is completed on schedule. A veteran of the automotive industry, my exposure to Lean Six Sigma manufacturing keeps me focused on opportunities to improve processes.

Specialties include:

  • Clear communications with team leads
  • User Acceptance Testing
  • Requirement Elicitation
  • Business Requirement Documents
  • Technical Specifications

Project Manager Summary

Mary just received her Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute. An eight-year veteran of the profession, she is interested in taking the next step in her career but her current employer doesn't have a suitable role. Mary decides to review the LinkedIn profiles of directors of project management offices and studies them carefully, learning how to represent her experience as both an individual contributor and a leader.

My projects stay on schedule and on budget! My PMP is the product of eight years in the trenches, filled with valuable lessons learned. It is tremendously rewarding to leverage my strong influencing skills to ensure resources remain available as expected to ensure my projects hit milestones, ensuring that they remain on schedule and on budget. Equally comfortable with Agile, Scrum, and Lean Six Signa methodologies, my projects succeed because I remain focused on the big picture while ensuring project members had the resources necessary to achieve milestones. In fact, it's been my privilege to train several talented project managers, whose successful careers began as members of my projects.

Areas of Focus:

  • Enterprise Software Implementation: on-premise and Cloud/SaaS
  • Preventing scope creep
  • Herding cats

Career Change Summary

When Jeff was laid-off from his last position, it was a surprise: accounts payable was all he knew. As he gradually worked through his shock, he came to realize that that wasn't true: while skilled at AP, he was much more passionate about another field: human resources. In the past, he identified several new hires, and helped a few colleagues who were applying for H1B visas, drawing upon his personal experience with the process. Jeff used some of the severance to fund a course to prepare for the PHR certification exam. After consulting with a reference librarian, he reviewed postings and LinkedIn profile summaries from others, then making a list of keywords.

Where Human Resource programs fall short my work authorization and recruiting experience shine! My title was Accounts Payable, but I've been interested in Human Resources all along. Over my career, I have referred several people who became employees, and also aided several colleagues who were applying for H1B visas, drawing upon my own personal experience. This gives me practical, hands-on experience in talent acquisition/talent attraction/recruiting and with immigration/work authorization. Ever since childhood, I had an aptitude for numbers. But as I got older, I came to understand that the numbers are only one piece of the puzzle —  there is a story hiding behind them. And this is why I wish to continue my career in this new direction.

I will soon sit for HRCI's PHR exam, with every expectation of passing. I am confident and proud of my past, and look to take the next step into the future.

Particularly skilled in:

  • Work authorization
  • Talent acquisition/talent attraction/recruiting
  • Seeing beyond the numbers to the human story behind them

More LinkedIn Tips: 9 Simple Steps to Make a Better LinkedIn Profile | LinkedIn 101