- Adrian Granzella Larssen is a content strategist, editorial director, and founder of Sweet Spot Content. Eight years ago, she was the first employee at The Muse.
- She writes that the first impression you make on a recruiter, a prospective client, or a potential partner is often your LinkedIn profile.
- To make it as effective as possible, the 2,000-character box for your professional summary should tell a story about your career history and gives context to your path.
- You also want to encourage people to reach out to you, and show them what you're like as a person.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The first impression you make on a recruiter, a prospective client, or a potential partner often isn't your business card or your resume.
It's your LinkedIn profile.
And that's a good thing! Rather than being confined to a piece of paper, you have a blank slate (well, a few blank fields) to tell a story about your professional self for the world to see.
But with all that freedom, where do you begin?
A friendly photo, a strong title — that's all pretty simple. But that 2,000-character box for your summary can be a bit more daunting.
And that's fair. In that space, you need to accomplish some important things. For example:
- You want to tell a story about your career history, something that ties all of your jobs and responsibilities together and gives context to your path.
- You want to get found in LinkedIn searches by recruiters, hiring managers, or clients.
- You want to give those people a teaser of who you are — not just what you do, but why you do it, and what you're like as a person.
- You want to encourage those people to reach out.
It's a lot to cover in a little piece of real estate, but here's a template that'll make it easy:
I'm a [your title] who helps [your target audience] [what you do].
Why? [Your back story]
For the past [years of experience], I've worked with companies like [past employers] to [key skill 1], [key skill 2], and [key skill 3]. In addition, [big accomplishments].
I've also [additional work history], which [how you use it today].
Additional things I do well: [additional skills]
If you're [reason others would want to connect], I'd love to chat. Reach out at [contact info].
How to make it your own
Here's a rundown of what to put in each of those template prompts:
Your title: This doesn't have to be your exact job title; instead, use a broader, three- to five-word description that someone might type when searching for people with your background. (Think: B2B product manager, diversity and inclusion leader, or freelance beauty writer.)
Your audience: If you're an entrepreneur, this might be your ideal client. If you're looking for a new job, you'll want to list the type of companies you've worked for (or want to) — for example, healthcare startups or public relations agencies. And if you've worked for a variety of places, think about the thread that ties them together, such as "companies that do talent management differently."
What you do: This is the big theme of your work — the umbrella of what you do. An example: As a marketing manager, you might be responsible for growth, SEO, and social media, but here, you could write something that ties those tasks together, like "create lasting brands and engaged communities." (We'll get to the more specific skills later on.)
Your backstory: Here, you'll get to share a bit about why you do what you do. What led you to this field? Why are you passionate about your work? No matter what your story is, talking about your "why" will help readers get to know you better and put a personal spin on your professional background.
Years of experience: In this spot, add how many years you've been doing this to make your experience level clear to recruiters. (If you think it's irrelevant, or are worried about age-related discrimination, feel free to leave it out.)
Past employers: List a few of the companies you've worked with before. It doesn't need to be a laundry list, just a few of your most eye-catching employers.
Key skills: Here's where you'll get into more detail about what you do. What are your most important responsibilities? What are the skills that are most in-demand by potential hiring managers or clients? List three to five of them here.
Big accomplishments: Now it's time to brag! What are some of your accomplishments — the things that make you stand out from others in your field? If you've received special certifications, won awards, or been featured in publications, this is the place to highlight them. You can also use this area to describe some of the results you've achieved or accolades you've received on the job.
Work history and how you use it today: If you've changed careers or your work has evolved over time, it can be helpful to explain this here. Briefly mention what you've done in the past, and then, more importantly) highlight how it helps you in your career today.
Additional skills: Anything else you'd like to mention? Here's an easy catch-all area to add other keywords that recruiters or potential clients might search for (like, "public speaking," "management" or "volunteering").
Reason others would want to connect, plus contact info: Finally, invite people to reach out to you and give them the best contact information to do so. Pro tip: If you're looking for a job and don't want to tip off your current employer, say something vague like, "I'm always excited to chat with others in the digital media space — feel free to reach out."
Of course, you can and should adapt this template.
Don't be afraid to add quotes, testimonials, or funny anecdotes to make it your own.
And remember: While your LinkedIn profile summary should tell a story about who you are, it doesn't have to tell the whole story. (There's a character limit for a reason!)
Think of it as a highlight reel — the top hits of your career that will make a prospective client or employer excited to learn more.
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