So, you’ve procured a great profile picture. Now people are flooding the internet looking to see your beautiful face. It’s time to keep them there.
If your name and photo is the news story headline, your summary is the lead of the story.
Let’s write a good one.
This is your opportunity to make your personal mission statement.
It’s not really about your company.
It’s not about your day to day job duties.
It is about YOU…the person. Who is this person? What are they doing on my screen?
It’s the elevator speech of your entire profile. If they read nothing else….they’re going to read your summary….after all it’s right at the top!
If it’s not good…they’re gone. Make it compelling!
Start with these questions:
What are you about?
What do you stand for?
Why does the reader need you?
Now, you don’t have to answer THESE questions directly….but it would be nice if your summary delivered the message in a creative, fun, or interesting way. As with the profile picture, your delivery and style may be heavily dependent on your industry.
To give you some ideas, here are 3 summaries from people in my company:
This guy is funny and clever. He’s experienced. He’s also apparently technically skilled.
The only 2 improvements I can think of is just fleshing out what he means by “packaging automation.” Also I would remove the self deprecation at the beginning of his last paragraph. This guy is good. There’s no requirement that he needs to be credentialed for his customers to trust him…so I don’t think it serves him.
This guy is one of our top sales reps. His tone is congruent with his skills. This sounds like he has lots of experience working with big picture projects. He’s confident and he’s focused on finding big savings, not “me too” small stuff.
“Call me if it’s the dollar.” – Brilliant.
That last one is mine at the time of publication (it has since been improved). I have a personal mission. Now you know it. If you are a sales rep looking for a place to have a rewarding career, make a ton of money, and have a foolproof plan to get you there….I’ve conveyed to you that I am the guy that can help make it happen…in 5 short lines.
If the reader can’t quickly figure out how they would benefit from working with you, your summary is ineffective and you need to write a new one!
3 major guide posts:
1.) The “enter” key is your friend!
People read best in 1-3 sentence chunks. Knowing this, feel free to hit the return key at the end of every few sentences. Your writing is probably naturally broken up into segments anyway, so don’t force things by slamming them together into one massive paragraph.
Here’s what not to do.
Be honest. You panicked a little when you saw that block of text right? Most people see a massive paragraph like that and completely disengage. Keep this in mind also: lots of people look at LinkedIn on their phones…so that seemingly small 5-7 line paragraph on your profile just turned into a full iphone screen of solid text. No one is going to read that.
Here is that same paragraph on an iPhone screen:
That summary is not being scoured. Its being skipped.
If you can’t tell your story in 10 lines or less…your ability to communicate becomes suspect. If you have to go over that…break it up into manageable pieces.
2.) 3rd person narratives are odd.
Everyone knows you’re writing it. You (probably) wouldn’t talk that way out in public…so don’t write that way online. This guy also breaks the “massive paragraphs” rule.
Your target customer and/or future employer will be reading what you choose to put down there. 3rd person is kind of off-putting. Also, unless your industry demands robotic lists of accomplishments in the summary, keep your writing conversational.
Above all, don’t tell them you were #1 on your sales team, or that you grew your territory by X%. No one cares. It makes you sound like you’re fishing for a new job.
Tell them your mission. Tell them your plan. Tell them why they’ll benefit from getting to know you.
Don’t tell them something everyone else is also telling them.
3.) Actually write a summary.
The biggest mistake people make when it comes to the summary….is they don’t even USE the summary. They leave it off their profile completely and attempt to tell their story in the context of their work experience. The problem is that your job title and duties don’t tell them anything about why they need to care about working with YOU.
Anyone in a similar position has similar skills, duties, and “accomplishments.”
So think about it. What is YOUR story?
Why should they read past this first few lines of your profile?
Make it worth their while.
We’ll wrap this series up with the experience section of your profile next week.
Until then, good selling…and summary writing.