Writing your LinkedIn Profile Summary

A close friend asked me for some thoughts on writing a LinkedIn profile.

I noticed on someone else’s profile that they had put their Summary in the third person. I had done that with mine, but now I am about to start a serious excursion on looking for a new job. Should I re-write my Summary into the first person and overall, do you have recommendations on what I should put in there?

Here are my thoughts.

I would write a LinkedIn profile summary in first person. Third person can have the effect of making you sound arrogant or full of yourself. In a competitive job market, being personable and nice to work with can make all the difference when hire-decision time comes. You want to create that positive first impression right of the bat. It’s probably fine to write in third person for a printed document like a bio, or brochure, but in the case of a “social network” it has a more personal connecting intent, so first-person is probably more effective. That’s just my intuition opinion, so if you disagree or know otherwise, I invite you to share in the comments section.

Here are some other tips:

Start your LinkedIn profile with the job you want in mind — that’s your vision. Look up a few ideal job descriptions in openings being posted on Monster.com or other job sites and analyze the key words and skill-requirements companies are asking for.

Based on these, while staying honest, craft your profile making sure to cover those key points. Make sure to not get to granular (ex. I know how to use photoshop) unless that granular skill set is very important to the role. Sometimes alluding to a skill without being specific will get you an interview, because now the person has to interview you to know more. Of course, you don’t want to be so vague that you don’t stand out among a pile of candidates — it has to be clear from your profile that you are qualified. But because its the web, keywords (search) are the key factor to an effective profile.

Basicly, your summary should be a “match” to your ideal job. I am assuming, of course, that you are qualified for your ideal job.

If the job description says, “Opportunity requires an experienced interactive marketing professional with proven results in developing small to large-scale consumer and B2B web sites and integrated email campaigns” you would write your profile to say, “I am an experienced interactive marketing leader with proven results in developing small to large-scale consumer and B2B web sites and integrated email campaigns.”

Now — if you know you’re interviewing with a specific company, don’t copy off their specific job description, or edit it enough and “make it yours” so its not “clearly” a copy/paste–the HR rep might not appreciate it and it will come off as being dishonest (…again, make sure to modify to ensure accuracy and honesty in regards to your abilities and experiences).

On a side note: An important thing to remember about job hunting is that even if you don’t have every specific experience or skill set asked for, you may have skills that compensate. For example, years ago I was hired as a web designer. The job posting required knowledge of JavaScript, and experience using Macromedia Dreamweaver. I had been doing some copy/pasting of JavaScript (though I don’t know how to program it much) and had been working with MS FrontPage. So, I indicated these things when I sent in my resume and cover letter, and also indicated that I had a strong ability in rapidly learning new software and a solid understanding of the key concepts behind JavaScript programing. I got the interview and I landed the job. I was using Dreamweaver to complete HTML code on the first day of the job — I walked in with 3 fat Dreamweaver books I picked up the Barns & Noble discount pile. My new manager thought it was funny, but was surprised when I completed a pile of Web Help Desk requests within hours of having them assigned.

So, in short, don’t fear not having every skill set required– just make sure to communicate other skills you do have that compensate for the one you are missing.

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