You know LinkedIn is an important tool for connecting with members of your industry, giving your career a boost, and finding new job opportunities. It’s also a tool through which recruiters and hiring managers can find and identify you for positions they’re looking to fill. So, how do you get noticed?
Your LinkedIn summary is one of the first pieces of information recruiters — and anyone who clicks on your profile — will see. You may think (or hope) that your experience can speak for itself, but the fact is that the 2,000-character summary at the top is your real sales pitch, and having a weak one can turn recruiters off from a truly qualified candidate. The best LinkedIn summaries demonstrate the real you in addition to your experience and qualifications.
So, how do you make a standout summary that promises to land you an interview—or connect you with a noteworthy professional in your industry?
What is a LinkedIn summary?
If your LinkedIn profile is the story of you, your summary is the trailer. You want to grab your reader’s attention—in 2,000 characters or fewer—to entice her to read further. This is your elevator pitch, a way to draw readers into your career and your story.
LinkedIn can generate a suggested summary based on the information in your profile, but it’s not a good idea to use it. It will sound stilted—a computer is creating it, after all—and inauthentic and won’t include the information you want it to. Instead, take some time to craft a summary in your voice, using first person to convey your personality, accomplishments, passions, goals, and values.
How to write a LinkedIn summary
Despite the relatively short length of your LinkedIn summary, you’ll need to take some time to reflect on what you want to say and how you’ll say it. The best LinkedIn summaries are thoughtful and take some time to craft—which will come across to potential connections. While as with all writing, the process and steps will vary person by person, here are some basic steps to get you started:
- Consider your audience. Who will read this? Whom are you targeting?
- Brainstorm, reflecting on these questions: What do you do? How do you do it? What sets you apart from other professionals in the industry? What are your greatest professional accomplishments? What are your values?
- Craft an opening sentence that draws the reader in.
- Write a draft using first person.
- Read over the draft. Does it sound like you? Does it sound like someone you would like to get to know? Does it sound like someone who is an expert in her industry?
- Write another draft.
- Ask for feedback from a colleague, friend, or mentor you trust—and actually listen to it, revising it based on her suggestions. If you truly don’t agree with something she tells you to do, then, of course, you don’t have to do it. But take the time to consider what she’s suggesting and why.
- Post it!
Follow these steps to post your summary to your LinkedIn Profile:
- Navigate to your profile by clicking the Me icon in the top right corner of the LinkedIn homepage.
- On the right side of your profile across from your profile picture, you’ll see a pencil icon. Click it.
- A boxed labeled “Edit intro” will pop up. Scroll down to Summary.
- Copy/paste your summary from a Word document, or write it out in the box.
- Click Save.
Example LinkedIn summaries
People use LinkedIn for many different purposes. Students who are just starting out in the career world are making their presence known as internship candidates and future professionals. Human resources recruiters and managers are looking to establish connections with prospective clients, both job seekers and businesses that relate to their specialty. Job seekers, of course, are looking for jobs.
LinkedIn Summary Example for Students
If you’re a student, you may be wondering what you have to show for yourself. After all, you don’t have a lot of work experience under your belt. Don’t worry—people understand that. Nobody expects you to be president of a company at age 19. Instead of focusing on what you haven’t done, focus on what you have done. Discuss internships that have allowed you to gain experience and learn from mentors. Describe extracurricular activities and volunteer work that relates to your career aspirations, particularly if you have had leadership roles in those clubs or activities. This shows recruiters and other LinkedIn users that you want to learn and grow. It’s also important to be specific. Say what your major is, where exactly you’ve worked, and what you want to do next.
Telling stories has always been a passion of mine, and that’s why I decided marketing was my calling. It’s all about tell the stories of brands, after all. As a junior at XX University, I’m constantly seeking ways to gain experience in marketing and develop my voice. When I graduate, I hope to develop marketing strategies at a startup.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to intern at XX organization and XX company, where I learned from amazing mentors and professionals, who showed me the ins and outs of working in marketing at a high-profile corporation. One of my key roles was managing XX’s social media accounts. (Examples: [links])
When I’m not studying or looking for opportunities to gain experience in the marketing field, I’m working on my other passion: helping kids. I’m a volunteer camp counselor at XX Camp during my summers off and am president of the tutoring club at XX University, which enable me to help inner-city children learn and succeed. It’s rewarding work, and I’m proud of what I’ve done with these young students.
LinkedIn Summary Example for HR Professionals
Human resources professionals are looking for new talent, but they also want to make a presence for themselves. That way, when businesses are looking to hire for new positions, they know whom they can trust to find qualified candidates. HR professionals also want to establish relationships with job seekers who are qualified in their fields, because they make up part of their client base, too, and recruiters can present them as candidates when a position that aligns with their qualifications rolls around.
As a recruiter, my relationships with people are my passion. I value my ability to help job seekers and hiring managers alike achieve their goals. My seven years of experience recruiting in the tech industry has allowed me to work with talented people across the country and help them realize their aspirations.
I’m thrilled to work as a senior recruiter at XX brand, because my role allows me to support a mission that’s truly important to me while doing what I love—helping people live out their dreams. Previously, I was lucky enough to search for amazing, new talent at XX company. My passion for technology and people has helped my grow, and I pride myself on providing the best recruitment experience possible for both the companies I represent and the people I recruit. You can always count on me to offer advice on how to conduct yourself through every stage of the interview process, follow up, and offer next steps—even if you’re not the chosen candidate.
Since I’ve always been a people person, you could say I’m living my own dream of doing what I love—helping others. Outside of work, you can find me traveling the world, always meeting new people.
LinkedIn Summary Example for Job Seekers
Whether you're looking for your next freelance gig or fulltime job, or you're just trying to maintain a professional presence, LinkedIn is an opportunity. Even if you're not actively looking for a new position, everyone is a job seeker to some extent. After all, if a recruiter contacted to to interview for an amazing opportunity today, even if you're happy in your current role, would you turn it down? Unlikely.
You could say I’ve been a graphic designer since I was five. I used to spend recess drawing pictures, and as I grew up—and digital design became the norm—I transferred my passion for art to the computer screen. Design is in my blood, and I’m lucky to have had many opportunities to showcase my designs and participate in executing the vision and direction of several high-profile brands’ images, products, and campaigns.
I started out as a junior designer at XX Brand and most recently worked as senior graphic designer at XX Brand, before deciding to go my own way. I’m thrilled to be a freelance graphic designer and share my vision with many different brands and companies, including XX company, XX company, and XX company.
I encourage you to take a look at my portfolio to see examples of my work. [Hyperlink profile.] My work also appears on XX website, XX blog, and XX website. [Hyperlink businesses.]
Feel free to contact me to discuss your brand and how we can work together to execute your vision.
For more examples of standout LinkedIn summaries that work, check out 7 LinkedIn Profile Summaries That We Love (And How to Boost Your Own) on LinkedIn’s Talent Blog.
What to leave off your LinkedIn summary
- Resume regurgitation
You have a separate section to expand on your work history, so leave the specifics of your resume to there. While it’s okay—and encouraged—to highlight a couple of key roles, particularly your current one, in your summary, focus more on what you’ve learned from them as opposed to the specific functions and duties of the position. Those points belong in your experience section.
- Third person
You’re writing about yourself, so make your summary come from you. Writing “Laura is a writer” sounds stilted and affected, since everyone knows I’m the one who wrote it. Creating your summary in first person also helps it sound more personal and will do a better job allowing the real you to come across.
“I’m a go getter” doesn’t set you apart from the pack. Nearly everyone could describe herself as a go getter. Focus on individual talents and strengths, rather than general, vague attributions that could describe anyone in your industry.
- Anything inappropriate
While you should certainly inject personality into your LinkedIn summary and use light humor if it aligns with your image, be careful to avoid crossing the line into inappropriate territory. That doesn’t just mean avoiding discriminatory, hurtful, or outrageous language (although you should absolutely never use that on LinkedIn or anywhere else), but also taking care to keep your image professional and treating LinkedIn as a professional platform. Since it’s a social media platform, it can be easy to forget that it’s about your career, not making friends. Even something that seems harmless, like writing, “My motto is work hard, play hard” can give people the wrong impression. If you’re not sure how something comes across, it’s best to leave it off.
This is a no brainer, but you should take care to proofread absolutely everything you write. Ever. (Okay, you don’t need to proofread your private journal entries.) Typos have no place in your professional presence especially.
How long should a LinkedIn summary be
“Say what you need to say” is common advice for all writers. But that’s not always helpful, especially when you’re dealing with space constraints. You should certainly try to say everything you need to say—but chances are, it can be difficult to fit your entire career into 2,000 characters.
Being concise will help get your point across immediately and succinctly. People have short attention spans, so brevity can be helpful in this respect; after all, you want a recruiter or colleague to read your entire summary. However, there is also a such thing as too short. A single, short sentence is unlikely to catch a LinkedIn user’s attention; how much can you really convey in just a few words? Since you do have the space, it’s best to make your summary at least 1,000 characters. If you need to use all 2,000 characters, that’s okay, too—just make sure you have a great hook to entice a potential connection to keep reading.
When someone is looking at your profile on a desktop computer or laptop, she will be able to see the first 220 characters. On mobile, she’ll be able to see the first 92 characters. That means you really need to take the time to craft a standout first sentence—even first word!
Next Steps for LinkedIn Users
Your LinkedIn profile plays a crucial landing your next great job or growing in your current one. You know it’s important to showcase your accomplishments and career history, but the summary section is an oft- (and unfairly) neglected aspect of your LinkedIn profile. Don’t let it be! Taking the time to craft a thoughtful, genuine summary that showcases your personality and yourself will help you stand out from peers in your industry and land your future gig.
While you’re crafting your LinkedIn summary, take some time to spruce up other aspects of your profile. Is your headline grabbing people’s attention? Does your profile picture portray you in the best (and most professional) light? Are you making the most of your LinkedIn presence? We’ll show you how!