Write an Enticing LinkedIn Summary
The traditional resume is all black and white, facts and figures. Quite boring, actually.
But your LinkedIn profile offers so much more. It's a customizable space that lets you bring your best qualities to the forefront and show off a bit of personality while doing it. This is especially true if you make good use of the Summary section, a 2,000-character space to write whatever you want. "It's an opportunity for more narrative stories and specific accounts, instead of just repeating the same data," says Greig Wells, a LinkedIn trainer for JobSearchSmarter.com.
Usually appearing at the top of a profile, your Summary should entice recruiters to read more about what you have to offer. Based on what you put there, recruiters will judge whether you'd make a good employee.
First Things First
You want to be as accessible as possible-so either your email or phone number should be immediately visible to recruiters. Follow that with a tagline that expresses something unique about you. For example, Wells' tagline says he "takes the time to respond personally to everyone."
You can't format the Summary the way you would a resume, using bold or italics, but you can make it distinctive in other ways. Most recruiters are trying to glean what you'd be like to work with, not just your skill set, so allow your personality to shine through with your choice of words and the tone of your written voice. Your specific industry or field should inform how conservative you should play it.
Address Your Audience
Offer targeted information to the different types of people that will see your profile. For your peers, tell them what you're up to and the industry you work in. Show potential employers your skills and what you have to offer. "You get the best results when you tell people what to expect if they connect with you," says Wells.
Load your Summary with keywords-the skills and qualities that make you valuable-to boost your standing in results when recruiters search for someone like you. Tap into the key terms that consistently turn up in job postings for positions you want.
Divide & Conquer
Separate the Summary into discrete sections: a tagline, your pitches to peers and employers, descriptions of your skills and experience, examples of what you do best. Then use asterisks, dashes, hyphens, and other characters to form lines to space out the summary and make it easier to read.
It's just as easy to close a browser window as it is to throw out a resume, so take care that your Summary is equally flawless. Check your spelling and grammar thoroughly, then have a friend read it-then another.
3 Tricks for Fine-Tuning Your Profile
1. Move the elements of your profile around by clicking and dragging. Put your best features-an Ivy League education, a prestigious internship-at the top.
2. Post status messages to show what you're working on, where you're traveling, or what you're reading. It shows you're engaged and active, and adds personality to your profile.
3. You have an additional 500 characters at your disposal in the Specialties subsection. Use them to highlight special talents ("technical sales whiz") or niche expertise (programming languages, accounting certifications).
This article is from the spring 2011 issue of WetFeet magazine (originally appearing as "Summary Judgment"). See the e-zine here.