I still remain perplexed that some LinkedIn members put little effort into their Summary section, or don’t have one at all.
Would you go to an interview or business meeting without shoes? Of course not. So I wonder why people feel that a Summary statement on their LinkedIn profile is unnecessary. Having viewed hundreds profiles, I’ve seen many that simply begin with the Experience section and have no Summary.
The absence of this section of your profile can greatly hurt your potential of capturing the attention of visitors, e.g., potential employers, networkers, and business associates.
I have three theories why people don’t include a Summary: 1) they don’t have the time or energy to write one; 2) they don’t know what to write; and 3) they follow advice of those who say, “Recruiters don’t read a Summary statement. You don’t need one.”
I can understand the first two reasons, although I don’t condone them, but the third one escapes me. Many pundits, recruiters included, say a Summary is necessary, as long as it adds value to the profile. So if you don’t have a Summary because you lack the energy or don’t know what to include, consider 4 reasons why the Summary is important:
It gives you a voice. You’re given more freedom of expression on LinkedIn than you have with your résumé; so use it! Be creative and make the employer want to read on. Your voice contributes to effective branding. It should be some of your best writing and can be written in first person voice or even third person.
Most pundits lean toward first person, as it expresses a more personal side of you. A Summary written in first person invites others into your life. Not many people pull off the third-person voice well; it can sound stilted. But if done right, it can also make a powerful branding impact. People who are established as leaders in their industry warrant a third-person Summary.
It tells a story. Perhaps you want people who would consider connecting with to know you on a more personal level. You have aspirations or philosophies to share; and it’s not about impressing people with your accomplishments in marketing in the nonprofit sector, for example, as much as the positive impact your work has had on the population you serve. You want people to connect because of a share common bond.
The Summary is also a clear example of how LinkedIn differentiates itself from the résumé. It’s a known fact that the majority of hiring authorities don’t enjoy reading a résumé, which is due, in part, because of its Summary. The Linked profile is more creative because it tells your story, your aspirations, and philosophies.
You can make an immediate impact. Stating accomplishment statements with quantified results are a real attention grabber. If a visitor is going to scan one section of your profile to determine if he’ll read on, make it be your Summary, and leave him with a positive image of you.
Here’s part of a Summary from Doug Caldwell, who calls himself a Facilitator Extraordinaire. (I told you I read a lot of profiles.)
✯ Improving unit output by 2,200% over a five-year period.
✯ Reduced manufacturing cycle time by 30%.
✯ Achieved cost saving in excess of $25,000 annually.
Read the rest of his Summary to feel it’s power and excitement.
It’s another place to include keywords. Keywords are the skills employers are looking for, and the more you have the closer you’ll be to the top of the first page. So don’t think “less is better.” In this case, the more of the 2,000 characters you’re allotted, the more you should use. Please don’t use your Summary as a dumping ground for your keywords, though.
I tell my Advanced LinkedIn workshop attendees that excluding their profile Summary is like neglecting favorite pet. You shouldn’t do it. Find the energy to write one, figure out your story or unique selling proposition, and get to work writing an attention-grabbing Summary. By all means, don’t listen to naysayers who don’t believe in this very important part of your LinkedIn profile.