Make a strong first impression on LinkedIn

LinkedIn gives you the power to create a professional reputation like no other. It's an essential tool for both your job search and career. But, to make the most of it, you need to create a detailed, comprehensive profile – including an engaging LinkedIn summary.

This short bio is a less formal version of the personal statement on your CV. But here's one major point to keep in mind: the way that you write and target your LinkedIn summary will differ from a formal application. LinkedIn is, after all, a social network at its core. 

If you're not sure how to get started, you've come to the right place. In the following guide, we'll look at why your short LinkedIn summary matters, what you should include, and prime examples that you can use for inspiration. Read on to perfect your next LinkedIn summary. 

What is a LinkedIn summary?

Also called your “About” entry or “'LinkedIn bio,” your LinkedIn summary is that short blurb that appears below your profile header. You have around 370 words to play with here, so you'll want to avoid writing a memoir. It's all about getting – and keeping – the reader's attention. With that in mind, your ideal LinkedIn summary should be: 

  • Short. You can't surpass the 2,600 character limit. So it's best not to add unnecessary “fluff,” aiming for a LinkedIn summary that's snappy and to the point.
  • Original. Try not to sound like every other professional on the social network. If you want to gain attention for all the right reasons, your LinkedIn summary should be unique. 
  • High-value. What do you bring to the table? Don't just tell the reader what you do. Focus on the value that you bring to the hiring manager and company. 
  • Captivating. The language that you use in your LinkedIn summary matters more than you think. Make sure to hook the reader and keep them engaged throughout your bio. 

Within this short LinkedIn summary, you have to make the right first impression. The reader can tell who you are and what you do by looking at your experience, so don't commit the proverbial mistake of simply stating the obvious. Instead, give them a reason to care about you. Use this part of your LinkedIn profile to detail why you're worth a second look and what makes you special. 

Why does your LinkedIn summary matter?

Now that you're well-versed on what a LinkedIn summary is, let's talk about why it matters. You might think that this part of your profile is just an added bonus, rather than a necessity. That's simply not the case as your short LinkedIn summary allows you to do the following: 

  • Showcase your USP. What's your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? What's the one thing that you have over other professionals in your sector? When you have pinpointed this aspect of your professional profile, it's time to lean on it. Your LinkedIn summary is an ideal place to put your USP front and centre. 
  • Add personality to your profile. If you want to get ahead in your career, your personality is the key. There are loads of candidates with the same experience and expertise as you. But what don't they have? Your personality. As your LinkedIn summary is among the first things that your LinkedIn profile visitors will see, it allows this aspect of yourself to shine through. When you're writing your LinkedIn summary, don't be afraid to showcase your creative flair. 
  • Rank your profile in LinkedIn searches. Do you want your LinkedIn profile to be found by hiring managers? If the answer is yes, crafting a well-written summary is a must. Including industry-specific keywords in your bio can increase your online visibility in your sector. That means that when people search for professionals with your skills and experience on LinkedIn, you're more likely to rank highly in their results. 

Whether you're currently looking for a new job or not, make sure you keep your LinkedIn summary up-to-date. This approach allows you to build a sturdy reputation on the platform, which you can leverage when you do want to climb the career ladder later on.

7 tips for writing a stellar LinkedIn summary 

Ready to put pen to paper? Each person's LinkedIn summary is unique to them (and their experience). However, there are some tried-and-true pointers that you can follow when writing yours. Here are seven things to keep in mind when crafting your bio section:

1. Target the right audience

A hundred different people may end up reading your LinkedIn summary, but that doesn't matter if they're not the right people. Ask yourself a simple question: who do you want to read your summary and, crucially, what do you want from them? 

For example, if you're on the hunt for a new role, you may be targeting recruiters and hiring managers. In that case, you should be writing a LinkedIn summary that sells you and your skills. Much like your CV, this brief overview needs to show people that you absolutely have what it takes to take the next step in your career.

Before you even dream of writing that first sentence, consider who will be reading it. Having a clear target audience will help you find a core message, helping you avoid a long-winded, boring description, and write something truly compelling instead.   

2. Be authentic, honest, and concise 

It should go without saying that lying on your LinkedIn profile summary is a recipe for disaster. For one, everyone can see your page and someone can easily call you out on your little “white lies.” Plus, there's the fact that you have to back everything you write up with facts and evidence. 

Don't try to be someone else. Be yourself! It might sound cliche, but it works. When writing your LinkedIn summary, it's important that you're honest about your experience. Pick out the elements that are likely to “wow” readers and have them wanting more. 

Note: Avoid writing too much here! No one wants to read your life story. Save those minor details for your autobiography instead. 

3. Let your personality shine through 

The recruiter or company reading your LinkedIn profile summary hasn't met you face to face. They have no idea who you are or how very charming you may be. 

Unlike in your CV, you can use your LinkedIn profile summary to let some of that award-winning personality shine through in your writing. This technique is used in the best LinkedIn profile summaries, and it can really work wonders when you get it right. 

LinkedIn strategist, Jasmin (Jay) Alić , knows how to write a summary that really flows. Here's his LinkedIn summary example:  

“Hey there, thanks for stopping by my profile!

For the TL;DR peeps:

I help brands win hearts. Main strengths: copy and strategy. Wanna e-meet over coffee? I'm always down to connect and explore new opportunities.”

While you may think that this is a casual way to start a summary, it works for Jasmin. As a LinkedIn strategist, he has to have the personality to carry his role. It's a people-led business, after all. By offering up a TL;DR for readers, he gives them a chance to get to know him quickly and easily. Of course, he also includes a longer bio where you can learn about his experience.

While you may think that starting with a joke is risky business, Jasmin manages to make it work.

Note: The key word here is “show.” Don't make the mistake of writing “I'm a funny, warm person…” in your summary. Paint the picture and let it come through naturally!

4. Explain what you do (briefly)

What exactly do you do, anyway? Your regular job duties and work history may cover a whole range of things, but you shouldn't babble in your LinkedIn summary. Instead, condense what it is that you do down into a manageable paragraph. 

The best summaries give a taste of the person's expertise and previous roles without getting too bogged down in the everyday, nitty-gritty details. How do you help businesses succeed as a whole? Be concise and clear by dedicating just a couple of sentences to your role. 

5. Add industry-specific keywords

As we've already mentioned, keywords are a must. When writing your LinkedIn summary, make sure to do some research. What words and phrases are trending within your field? Identifying these will help you craft a strong LinkedIn summary. 

Once you have a list of words at your fingertips, the next step is to include them organically throughout your summary. You may want to replace any synonyms you've used with keywords that will get more traction, for example. Don't make the mistake of trying to shoehorn keywords in where they don't belong. Instead, use them only where appropriate.

6. Show the depth of your professional knowledge 

You know your profession better than anyone else, right? Well, then show that to those who look at your LinkedIn page. Legal headhunter, Liz Smith, does a stellar job of showcasing her talents and expertise in the following LinkedIn summary example: 

“I am an expert in moving Legal teams, Associates and Partners. I provide a bespoke head hunting service to clients in the legal sector focussing on attracting the very best talent. For lawyers I provide a tailored career advisory service along with a targeted approach to firms that suit your next career move. I have a caring approach. I'm here to listen, to guide, nurture and support. I've been doing this for 20yrs.” 

By sharing how long she has been in the industry, Liz shows she is an expert in her field. She also includes details of how she works and her areas of expertise to boot. Recruiters know exactly what they're getting when they look at this summary.

7. Master the art of a “closer” line

As you get to the end of your LinkedIn profile summary, what's the takeaway message you want to leave the reader with? This final closing line should be both neat and memorable. 

Expert copywriter Shea Karssing details the brand names that she has previously worked with in her summary. She also has a way with words. At the end of the summary, she concludes with a simple sentence “Let's make words work for you.” Check it out here:

“Brands I have worked with include: KFC, BCX, Momentum, Nedbank, Automobile Association of South Africa, South African Tourism, Sun International, Standard Bank, MTN, Volvo, and many more.

My specialisations include:

- Content writing (blogs, social media, white papers, press releases, brand development, video scripts, and more)

- Copywriting (websites, advertisements)

- Keyword research

- On-page SEO

- Analytics and reporting

Let's make words work for you.”

Rather than leaving the reader with the bland “Connect with me now!” message, Shea decided to add a little pizazz to her profile. This closing sentence shows that she knows what potential clients are looking for in a simple and memorable way.

LinkedIn summary template 

By this point, you should feel prepared to write an epic LinkedIn summary. The structure that you use matters more than you may imagine. With that in mind, here's a LinkedIn summary template you can use to guide your writing: 

  • USP. Lead with the main thing that you have to offer.
  • Value. Add in the value that your USP brings to a business. 
  • Evidence. Back up your statements with stats and figures. 
  • Call to Action. Close with a killer line that encourages the reader to get in touch.

Whilst you don't have to use this LinkedIn summary template verbatim, it's good to keep it in your mind as an outline. There are many different approaches you can use when writing your LinkedIn summary. Figure out which one works best for your career and long-term goals. 

Make an impression with your LinkedIn summary

Elevator pitch, CV personal statement, LinkedIn summary – these are all different ways through which you introduce yourself as a professional. On LinkedIn, that means a careful balance of professionalism and personality, expressed in a summary that makes people within the social network interested in learning more about you. With the right LinkedIn profile summary, connecting with HR managers and industry professionals alike will be a breeze.

While your LinkedIn profile will help you connect with professionals, a well-written CV can fast-track your job search. Find out if your CV makes the grade with our free CV review!

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