By Monique Stennis, MBA
Social Media Manager
University of Redlands
AABLI alumna, Class #6
Does it surprise you that roughly half of more than 400 million LinkedIn member profiles are incomplete, blank or look like abbreviated résumés? I’ve scanned hundreds of them, so no surprises are there for me. But I am perplexed, given that five out of six recruiters review LinkedIn profiles to determine if they should contact a candidate. It’s a safe bet that a number of other professionals do the same.
Why don’t people do something about their profiles? For many of us, the biggest obstacle is the summary section. It can be both intimidating and uncomfortable to write about ourselves. But considering what’s at stake, it’s worth a little discomfort. The professional head shot and the creative headline are really important, but the summary section is the heart of the profile. It is where, in 2000 characters, you get to tell your professional story and let readers know what makes you so special. It pumps life into your experience, skills and education.
Here are six tips to get you started on your summary.
Begin with a catchy introduction. Use a phrase, question, observation or story that will make the reader want to learn more about you. Look at this example from a businesswoman in Colorado: “My first entrepreneurial venture was buying packs of Wrigley gum for a nickel and selling each of the five individual pieces to my sisters and cousins for two cents a piece.” Her opening sentence resonates; it reminds me, for example, of running a lemonade stand as a child.
Write your profile in the first person. LinkedIn is a way to network online. Can you imagine introducing yourself in the third-person at a business function? Online or face to face, networking is networking. There is no rule on whether to write in the first or third person, but this writer comes across as authentic and in touch with the reader: “I oversee the financial, marketing and business development activities of the company. I strongly believe that being accountable and delivering what is promised on time, every time is what makes Rhythm the high caliber company that it is.”
Shy away from buzzwords. The top 10 most overused LinkedIn profile buzzwords in 2015: strategic, organizational, motivated, driven, passionate, track record, responsible, extensive experience, dynamic and creative. It’s easy to become comfortable with overuse of a word. I caught myself redhanded in my own Linkedin summary: the words “passionate” and “extensive experience” popped up again and again. We should sweep away buzzwords by describing our passions, for example, or by giving examples. A profile with no jargon will stand out in a crowd of copycats.
Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. Do you hesitate when it comes to sharing good things about yourself, fearful that you will come across as boastful? Think about it. Everyone wants to be in the presence of successful people. So if you graduated summa cum laude, achieved recognition within your field, or attained a victory in a marathon, write about it. It will provide third party validation of your abilities.
List your current and former specialties. Because skills are transferable, enumerate the skills you are currently using as well as the skills you have used previously. This demonstrates the depth of your skills set. For example, you might write “Specialties: CURRENT—copywriting, content marketing, social media training, blogging, social media marketing, public relations, branding, marketing campaigns, workshop facilitator, marketing for nonprofits, event management, mentorship, community outreach and local politics. FORMER—distribution management, human resources, business development, customer surveys, process improvement, quality assurance, eNewsletters, training & development, inventory, and managing budgets.”
Make sure to include a call to action. What would you like readers to do after reading your summary? Do you want them to email or call you, or go to your blog to read what’s current in your field? Make it clear.
LinkedIn allows you to go deeper than your résumé when telling your story. Take advantage of that.
Get social! Please share Linkedin tips that have worked for you by commenting below. From the comments, we will select two winners to receive a mini edition of “Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies.”