Image courtesy of Mathilde LMD
After your LinkedIn headline, it’s the profile summary of your LinkedIn page that recruiters and potential business partners, customers and clients read. That “about” section is limited to 2,000 characters, so it’s important to use those them well. We’ve turned to experts and real life examples to find out what your LinkedIn summary should—and shouldn’t—contain.
Don’t waste the space, and don’t copy and paste
Career empowerment coach Melanie L. Denny tells us you really don’t want to waste this opportunity to showcase your value. In fact, she says it’s the perfect format in which to tell the world who you are as a professional, and is very different from a resume, which simply defines you as an applicant.
So, don’t be tempted to copy and paste your resume here. Denny calls that a waste of time for anyone looking to learn more about you. However, do follow good LinkedIn practices, like using high-quality keywords based on your professional career goals.
And make it unique.
“Speak in first person and infuse the art of storytelling to demonstrate what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about, what makes you unique or the results you typically produce,” Denny advises. “This is your chance to highlight some of your career accomplishments, discuss your leadership style, or talk about what led you to choose your current line of work.”
Remember that only the first line or two show up. The reader has to click “see more” to read the rest of the summary. Denny says to think about a busy recruiter on a tight deadline to fill a role. “They want to know that you’re a good fit, so ideally these first few lines should capture their attention and intrigue them enough to want to read more.”
Great LinkedIn summary examples
That opening should include the top quality you want readers to know about you—what you offer and what sets you apart. You can then go on to fill in how you’ve progressed in your career and detail some accomplishments and specific interests. Keep it professional, but let your personality show.
While the following description of a real estate analyst does set out their skills and experience, Denny says it lacks personality:
Real estate analyst with 10 years’ experience providing analytical recommendations for relocation or expansion opportunities. Performs preliminary financial analysis on proposed opportunities including cash management assessments.
This next version captures more of who the person is behind the professional excellence, and encourages the reader to continue:
My analytical mind and fascination with the real estate and investment banking industry has led me to excel in my current role as mortgage analyst and underwriter where I conduct in-depth cash management assessments to minimize risk.
Denny’s own opening salvo from her LinkedIn page reads:
Does your resume Look Good? Is it Intentional, Value-based and Enticing to the reader? If you’re like most, it’s probably not.
Read more: 6 Ideas for Picking a LinkedIn Cover Photo
Remember that your LinkedIn profile summary will naturally change depending on what you want from your page and where you are in your career. Here are some examples of strong opening sentences that make you want to read on:
InHerSight's own contributor, Mitra Norowzi, student journalist: I am a student journalist at UNC-CH with a passion for ethical storytelling.
Revamped Resumes CEO Victoria Ipri: It’s 2020. Do You Know Where Your Resume Is?
Jane Hardy, career counselor: My firm, Career Resources, specializes in career counseling, career coaching, and outplacement.
Career Clarity founder, Lisa Lewis: I'm a career coach helping stuck individuals find work that fits by helping you clarify who you are, what you want, and what a great job for you is.
InHerSight’s software engineer Ashley Hardin, Ph.D., does everything right with her LinkedIn about section. She opens with who she is and how she got to where she is—all in two sentences:
I am an experienced manager, with previous experience as a scientist and teacher, and have a passion for education and a relentless drive for continuous improvement in all of my endeavors. After coding in academia and as a hobby for years, in 2018 I finally decided to become serious about software engineering, and took a 12 week immersive course at Project Shift to jumpstart this pivot in my career.
She then explains her current position and what she’s working on at the moment:
Hardin ends by describing her interests outside of software development. Pretty impressive—and she’s still got nearly 1,000 characters at her disposal!
In addition to software development, I have broad interests including science education, management, science marketing and product management, science policy, education policy, editing, and writing for both scientific and general audiences.
One of the best opening sentences comes from another software developer. Katrina Ortiz, starts her LinkedIn About section with the line: I caught fire coding.
When you open the entire text, you can read how she moved from what she thought her dream career to ending up in front-end web development:
I always thought my dream was to be a proofreader for a little indie publishing company, sipping my cafe con leche and reading the opening lines to the next best-selling vampire novel. It seemed like an appropriate dream given my BA in English. I gravitated toward proofreading and quality control positions and even started my own proofreading business. But I kind of just felt meh. I yearned to learn more, yearned to learn something different.
And that's when it happened; the spark I was missing ignited the instant I clicked play on my first Python tutorial video. (I mean seriously, how could it not be great when it's named after Monty Python's Flying Circus?) Since then, I can't get enough. Front-end web development calls to all my passions; it incorporates creativity and problem solving and I'm allowed to break it to improve the code (in a separate Git branch, of course).
I love applying responsive design principles and watching my web pages shrink into mobile screens and still look amazing. It's oddly satisfying. I think in a way I'm kind of like those web pages; I'm moldable, but I still keep my creative flare intact.
All that and she’s got 245 characters to spare.