We trawl through and judge candidates on their LinkedIn summaries all day, every day trying to determine if they have what it takes to do the job we or our client needs them to do. But have you ever stopped to consider what a candidate might think of your LinkedIn summary if the shoe were on the other foot?
Many recruiters seem to forget that LinkedIn works both ways. While we use it to find, research and reach out to potential candidates, our potential candidates are also using it to scope us out once they know we’re interested.
“They are checking you out before responding to you. They are stumbling upon you as they network online,” says Kate Reilly in her LinkedIn blog on the topic. “If you consider your summary as a strategic piece of content that can work for you, you can improve your effectiveness as a recruiter”.
Which is why today we’re asking, if a candidate were to go looking at your profile (which they inevitably will), would they be impressed, inspired, intrigued, shocked, bored or annoyed by your LinkedIn summary? Does your LinkedIn summary do you justice? Does it compel potential candidates to respond to your communication with them? Or is it something you’ve even considered before now?
You have 2,000 characters with which to express your unique personal brand by telling people why you’re important and why they should pay attention and listen to you and what you have to say. So how do you go about mastering this particularly tricky piece of writing and more specifically how do you master it as a recruiter? Here are the Do’s and Do Not’s of writing your LinkedIn summary like a LinkedIn Influencer:
1. DO NOT… write your summary in the 3rd person
Sooooo many people (even those you’d think would know better) use this approach when it comes to their LinkedIn summaries! You don’t talk about yourself in the 3rd person in real life (or at least I sincerely hope you don’t), so why in the name of all that is good, would you want or try to do so on your LinkedIn profile?!
LinkedIn is a social networking site, and social networking is all about developing personal connections through conversation. And there’s nothing more impersonal or less conversational than referring to yourself in the 3rd person. Don’t do it. End of.
2. DO… tell your story
“The simple act of being on LinkedIn is marketing. Don’t be lazy and cut-and-paste your resume and expect people to be interested. Spend a little time and tell a story. It’s well worth your time and those reading your profile will appreciate the effort” says Mark Amtower, and according to him your story “should be designed to educate, entertain and illustrate your area of expertise, enticing people to reach out by giving them a taste of who you are and what you do”.
To do this successfully, Craig Rosenberg recommends answering the question “Who do I help and how do I help them?” When answering this question, William Arruda advocates that you pay special attention to the “who” you help. According to Arruda, the “who” refers to the decision makers you would like to impress and influence with your LinkedIn summery. In your case, those decision makers are your candidates. That’s why Arruda believes that in answering Rosenberg’s question, you also need to bear the following three questions in mind; 1. What do you want them to know about you? 2. What do you want them to do? 3. How do you want them to feel?
My professional mission as a content writer is to create valuable, shareable content that helps recruiters do what they do better and faster. I’ve answered Rosenberg’s question by stating that I help “recruiters” and that I help them by creating “valuable” and “shareable” content that helps them “do what they do better”. As a tech recruiter, your professional mission might be to help talented UX Developers realise their own professional goals by finding them their next challenge in the company that’s right for them. You’ve identified that it’s UX Developers that you help and you help them by finding their next challenge with a company that suits them.
Check out some of the professional mission statements these recruiters have made in their LinkedIn summaries for example:
The next thing you need to do is elaborate a bit further on your professional goal and get specific about how you go about trying to achieve your professional goal.
For example, Rachel states that she takes “pride in ensuring that placements are a strong match for all parties” and that she’s “interested in finding people careers rather than simply jobs”.
Craig tells us “partnering with my leaders to help them think differently and coaching the talent I work with to attain the unattainable is what motivates me to continuously improve in this ever evolving industry”, and that he spends a considerable amount of time “driving key initiatives at CommBank from LGBTI to gender equality to creating greater cultural awareness”. Craig’s passion for what he does as a recruiter is palpable, and any candidates reading his summary will be able to see that clearly, making them more likely to respond to his communications with them.
3. DO NOT… ramble
It’s called a summary for a reason. This is not your personal memoir in which you try to list everything you’ve ever done, every job you’ve ever had, or every achievement you’ve ever been awarded. The aim is simply to tell people why you do what you do and how what you do can be of value to them. So, keep it short and to the point. And as Kate Reilly says, “don’t use a five-syllable word when you can use a one-syllable word that is just as good. Keep your words, sentences, and paragraphs tight.” We suggest 250 words or less.
Oh, and your LinkedIn professional summary is no place for mentioning your family, your pets, or your penchant for water skiing (unless of course you recruit water ski instructors), so please don’t include them. Keep that stuff for Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat… anywhere except LinkedIn!
4. DO… include a strategies section
“To improve your standing when candidates search LinkedIn and Google, you’ll want to include keywords that highlight your top skills. One approach is to list your ‘Specialties’ at the end of your summary,” says Kate Reilly.
Including a specialities section in your summary gives you the opportunity to include all of the keywords you want to be associated with in your profile, which will then make it easier for candidates to find you when they perform a keyword search online:
5. DO NOT… use self-indulgent buzzwords
When J.T. O’Donnell shared with the readers of the Careerealism blog what she dubbed “The Worst LinkedIn Summary”, it read like this:
Why did O’Donnel dub this the worst LinkedIn summary of all time? She says it’s because each and every claim made in this summary (e.g. “dynamic and high spirited leader”, “highly organized individual”, “highly adaptable” etc.) is completely subjective and unsubstantiated by any actual evidence that the person possesses those qualities. Oh, and because the summary is littered with overused buzzwords! In fact, this summary alone contains 3 of the Top 10 Most Overused Buzzwords on LinkedIn Profiles.
“Stay away from buzzwords and empty phrases,” warns Kate Reilly. “Words such as ‘motivated’ and ‘driven’ are so overused they lose their significance. Cross-check your summary with the most overused buzzwords on LinkedIn profiles and tap your thesaurus for alternatives”.
6. DO… end with a call to action
You’ve impressed the candidate with your professional mission and you’ve convinced them of the value you’ll bring to their career, but what do you want them to do now?
Always end your summary with a solid call to action that tells the candidate what to do next. If you’d like them to get in touch with you, direct them to the best way to do that e.g. phone (include your number), email (include your email address), InMail, Twitter (include your Twitter handle), or if you specialise in tech recruitment for example, ask them to connect somewhere where they might feel more comfortable like Stack Overflow or GitHub.
7. DO NOT… neglect formatting
“People have short attention spans and many will skim your text. So steer clear of long dense paragraphs,” says Kate Reilly, which is why the marketing whiz kids over at Hubspot, suggest that the best way to format your LinkedIn summary is using the 3X3 rule – three paragraphs with three or fewer sentences each.
- The first paragraph should state your purpose or your professional goal i.e the first part of telling your story as discussed above.
- The second paragraph should be used to elaborate on how you go about achieving your professional mission.
- The last paragraph should include a concise call to action that makes it very clear to the reader what they should do next to get in contact with you.
Your specialities section should be located below these three paragraphs.
So, in order to create a LinkedIn summary that a LinkedIn Influencer would be proud of, be sure to do the following:
- Write your Linkedin summary how you speak – in the first person.
- Tell your story – explain to your specific audience why you do what you do and how you can help them do what they do.
- This is a summary so keep it short and to the point – steer clear of buzzwords.
- Always end with a call to action that tells the candidate what they are to do next.
- Format your summary by utilising the 3×3 rule – and don’t forget to include a separate “Specialities” section to house your keywords.