LinkedIn is all about personal connections.
As I view your smiling face on my screen, I don’t want to read:
“John is a personable manager, with an engaging personality and a track record of delivering outstanding sales growth in mature markets. During his time at…”
That third-person narrative has placed a wall between us and our connection has disappeared under the guise of formal, clichéd business-speak.
I don’t want your resume either.
LinkedIn is a business site for professional people to reach out, network, build relationships, find others, be found and solidify reputations. It’s not a place to copy and paste your resume. That’s a different document for a different time and place. So, again, when I’m inches away from that happy grin of yours, I’m not engaged by reading your resume summary: “Seasoned sales manager, acknowledged for capacity to build business, generate revenues and contribute to growth via well-conceived strategies that lead to long-term business prosperity”.
No, I’m afraid you’ve pushed me away. Again.
When we meet under other circumstances—say at a business meeting or conference, you’re not going to offer your hand in greeting and say, “John is a personable manager with an impeccable background” are you? I want you to speak to me on LinkedIn like we’re meeting personally. You’ll be inviting me into your story, your life, your career—and I’ll be interested to read it, if you do it right!
Conversational, business-like, first-person summaries will elevate my curiosity
If you speak to me as you would in real life (well, leave out the expletives if you’re prone to that!) then as a reader, I’m going to be engaged.
Tell me about yourself:
“Hi, I’m John. I’m a senior IT executive for XYZ Corporation, and have retained just enough of my programming knowledge from my early career to be dangerous! I’m also a cricket ‘tragic’ who can spout sports statistics until your eyes glaze over. However, when it comes to my work life, I’m passionate about IT and the power it has as a key business driver. I transform IT functions into a contributing business partner; a division that helps organisations make and save money, support staff and customers, and keep the Board of Directors happy”.
As an opening paragraph, there’s a good chance you’re going to want to know more about this guy and despite this light-hearted approach, he’s told us a lot. He’s told us what he does (senior IT executive); he’s told us his background was in programming, and that he’s not just invested in helping business grow, he’s achieved it and he’s indicated who benefited from it (customers, staff and Board of Directors).
If you’re an employer, you will be very interested in a guy who understands that you want to make and save money and ensure key stakeholders are happy. Of course you’re going to want to read more! And, if your interests lie in sports, you now know how to break the ice.
What would come next?
There are a number of ways you could structure the information that follows. You may place a couple of anecdotal bullet point ‘stories’ where you relate actual achievements, you may create multiple headings under the banners of “Who I am”, “Where I’ve worked”, “How I’ve Succeeded” and “Why We Should Connect”.
Ensure that your content flows and doesn’t become bogged down with clichés (I have excellent interpersonal and communication skills, excellent organisational skills, and am a reliable team player).
After you have written the profile go through carefully and cut out “filler” phrases: for the most part (usually); in recent years (recently), in my personal point of view (I think); very big deals ($1.5M deal). Keep slicing until you have crisp, interesting content that sustains interest in you, your skills and achievements. Make people feel that they’re fortunate to be in your ‘galaxy’ of connections.
Other Summary Items
As well as the conversational, friendly tone of the summary, try to incorporate key words that are relevant to your role and that people would use to search for a person with your talents. As some recruiters using the paid version will not be able to see your profile unless you are first- or second-level connections, you may like to include your telephone or email address in the second set of 60 characters (best to use a disposable number or email address that you can remove after the job search).
Finally, if your name has an unusual spelling, or if there are several variations (or misspellings) of your name that may stop people finding you on LinkedIn, try this approach: Common Misspellings of my name include: Jon Smith, John Smyth, Jonny Smiffs. As the Summary is a searchable area, you have more chance of being found.
When you’ve finished, read it aloud to yourself and evaluate if the person you’ve written about sounds likeable and approachable. Has a friendly handshake been exchanged with the reader?
What is your approach to LinkedIn summaries for job seekers? Do you use the human touch?