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3 Do’s and Don’ts for Writing a LinkedIn Profile Summary

Grab the attention of potential employers...

by Janna Kefalas in Job Search, LinkedIn

As we’re completing our LinkedIn profile, if there’s any part that we love to skip over, it’s the summary. This blank field staring back at us can be very intimidating. We think, what do I write here? How much do I write? And how do I avoid writing a stiff, boring regurgitation of my resume?

The fact of the matter is, just like recruiters are only spending 6-10 seconds looking at a resume, they’re not spending much longer reading your full LinkedIn profile. So a focused, well-written summary can make a great first impression and set the tone for the rest of your profile.

Here are some useful Do’s & Don’ts that will help you achieve that goal:

LinkedIn Profile Summary DO #1 – Make your summary a clear, concise snapshot of who you are as a professional

Your summary should start out with a brief branding statement showcasing what problems you enjoy solving and how you solve them. It can include your general title, industry, years of experience, and top skill sets or methodologies. You can also add one or two key accomplishments.

LinkedIn Profile Summary DO #2 – Use a warm and friendly tone

Your LinkedIn summary is basically saying “hello, nice to meet you” to your reader. Think of it like a handshake. So you want to convey openness and authenticity. It should feel a bit more conversational than your resume, so avoid writing in a cold, third-person tone. That means start your sentences with “I”.

But, on the other hand, while you can show a little personality, don’t get too cutesy or overly informal. Think warm and professional.

LinkedIn Profile Summary DO #3 – Repeat keywords from your headline, work experience, and skills to increase search engine optimization (SEO)

When recruiters search for candidates on LinkedIn for a specific position, they’re typing in relevant keywords to see who pops up. Candidates who repeat specific keywords throughout their headline, summary, work experience and skills sections rank higher in search results. So after your branding statement, it’s helpful to list out 7-10 of your top skill sets. And make sure these keywords are sprinkled throughout the aforementioned sections.

LinkedIn Profile Summary DON’T #1 – Don’t include everything but the kitchen sink

It might be tempting to use your LinkedIn summary as an extended bio, taking your reader through a meticulous recounting of every job you’ve had since you were a teenager. But remember, recruiters have to make an informed decision in a matter of seconds, so make their job easier by branding yourself in the most specific way possible. You’ve got 2-3 short paragraphs max to make an impact.

LinkedIn Profile Summary DON’T #2 – Don’t stuff your summary with generic buzzwords

You see it all the time — summaries that start with, “I’m a detail-oriented, results-driven, synergistic, passionate leader who’s committed to raising the bar and devising optimal solutions.”

You think, huh? What the heck does this person do for a living?  I guarantee recruiters are thinking the same thing. These overly-used “soft” skills only muddle your branding, so switch them out with relevant hard skills that paint a clearer picture.

LinkedIn Profile Summary DON’T #3 – Don’t leave it blank

Yes, writing an effective, eye-catching summary can be a challenge. You’ll probably deal with writer’s block, do the electronic version of throwing several drafts into the trash can, and experience general malaise.

But hang in there and keep at it! If you get discouraged, check out profiles of noteworthy professionals in your industry to get inspiration.


So, as you can see, your LinkedIn profile summary can be a golden branding opportunity that you don’t want to skip out on. Remember to keep it brief, focused and highly targeted to the types of roles you want to be considered for. Your readers will thank you.