I’m preparing my LinkedIn summary. I’ve been warned not to use the word “I” in the summary part by the employment counsellors yet I have read opposing advice about what to write and what NOT TO write on my summary. What do you recommend?
Signed: Worst Words (WW)
That’s a great question. In addition to the feedback that I have received from employers as a job developer, as well as Liz Ryan’s blog on this topic, here are five approaches to consider NOT using, when writing your LinkedIn Summary:
1. “I am a motivated and experienced professional“
Stay away from fluffy soft skills language including “I’m savvy, smart and strategic”. The same applies for the resume and cover letter. LinkedIn is viewed by many recruiters and potential contacts, who don’t have time to read your whole profile. You have less than 5 seconds to grab the readers’ attention. Make your profile strong. You can do this by building your professional brand in your summary.
2. “I am a Jack / Jill of all trades“
Don’t be a generalist. It is impossible to do everything well. I agree with Liz Ryan when she says that this is a “desperate message that doesn’t give anyone confidence. It’s up to you to decide what kinds of jobs you want and to brand yourself for those opportunities”. Be specific and detailed. Professionally brand your skills, experience and qualifications in a clear and concise way so that the reader understands your expertise and value quickly. Write about your career path – the one you are on and one you want to achieve.
3. “I’m an expert/guru/virtuoso/wizard/smart“
Confident people don’t praise themselves. Fearful people brag about themselves in praising adjectives — savvy, strategic, insightful, and more. What you should do is present your experiences, skills, qualifications, achievements, publications, projects and other concrete and relevant information in your summary for the readers, who might not know you.
4. “I’m open to all job opportunities“
Impossible. No one is open to everything. You sound desperate and unprofessional. Also, the reader has no idea how to connect with you. Focus in on certain jobs and certain organizations, the way good salespeople focus on their most important prospects. It’s not a recruiter’s or hiring manager’s job to decide what you’re supposed to do next in your career; that’s your job!
There is mixed feedback from employers regarding the use of the first person vs third person in your summary. Most recommend that the content should be consistent with your resume and in the third person. This aligns with your efforts to professionally brand yourself in terms of the value added service and expertise that you can offer employers and your current and potential contacts. Using “I” might make you sound egotistical — as if you are telling a story which has far less credibility than showcasing the facts of accomplishments, skills, experience and qualifications. That said, some sectors respond well to a more friendly tone.
In addition to listening to advice from professionals, make sure to review other LinkedIn summaries of professionals in your field. Look for the successful, well-connected, well established fellow professionals and learn from their profiles.