The LinkedIn summary section is often under-utilized by LinkedIn users. Many leave it completely blank or type in a short tagline better suited for the LinkedIn headline or a resume summary. But whether you’re using LinkedIn to find a job, market your business, or build your professional brand, the summary section is important real estate.
Whereas the headline allows just 120 characters, there are 2,000 characters available in the LinkedIn profile summary. This could give you between 300-350 words to strengthen your profile by adding some personality, optimizing your search terms, telling your career story, and inspiring action from readers.
Why a good LinkedIn summary matters for your job search
Writing a great LinkedIn profile top-to-bottom is the easiest way to set yourself apart from half-a-billion other LinkedIn users. Even if you’re uploaded a great profile photo, customized your headline, and detailed your work and education history, leaving the summary blank is a huge missed opportunity for a number of reasons.
The LinkedIn summary is part of your first impression
The LinkedIn profile summary is one of the first things people see when they visit your profile. It’s part of introductory business card at the top of your profile that also includes your name, photo, headline, most recent company, education, and contact information. This information is “above the fold” on both desktop and mobile, meaning someone doesn’t have to scroll down to find it.
When most users visit your profile, they’ll see the first 300 characters or so of your summary. However, LinkedIn Recruiter shows the entire summary by default.
It’s your chance to say “hello”
Compared to other social networks, LinkedIn carries a certain expectation of decorum and professionalism. This expectation varies from industry to industry; regardless, the profile summary section is your best opportunity to inject a little personality into your profile. In an age where culture fits or culture adds are top of mind, the LinkedIn summary is where you can really let prospective employers see who you are and what you care about.
More than any other LinkedIn profile section, the summary provides an opportunity to address the reader directly and share multiple sides of yourself — from professional accomplishments to life motivations.
LinkedIn uses your summary for search results
When recruiters search for you on LinkedIn, summary content plays into the results. Your summary is not weighted as heavily as your headline or the job titles and descriptions in your work experience section, however they can still strengthen your searchability and help you rise above similar candidates.
Using the LinkedIn summary to include terms that a recruiter might plug into a search bar — hard skills, job titles, or industry keywords — increases your visibility and reveals opportunities.
How to write a LinkedIn summary for your job search
As alluded to above, a few things that should go into your summary include a catchy hook, your personal story, and optimized keywords.
By default, LinkedIn shows only the first three lines of your profile summary before readers have to click to see more. This works out to around 290-310 characters.
If you’re a creative writer you might start your summary with a catchy hook that invites readers to click “See More.” Otherwise, top load your LinkedIn summary with the number-one thing you want recruiters or hiring managers to know about you.
What sets you apart from everyone else? What combinations of skills help you achieve results? Why do you love your work? Answering these questions can uncover a compelling opening statement.
Make your LinkedIn summary keyword rich
Recruiters search for a combination of job titles, skills, and other keywords to find the right candidates. LinkedIn even shows you some of the search queries used to find your profile. On your profile, check out the dashboard underneath your summary. One of the stats will be “search appearances.”
Click on it to see a report detailing your searches. For example, this week some of my searchers found my profile by using these keyword combinations:
If you don’t see any search appearances or relevant search terms on your profile, it means your profile keywords aren’t optimized for recruiter searches. Review job descriptions that interest you take note of recurring hard skills and keywords. If applicable, add these words to your summary and profile.
Jobscan’s LinkedIn Optimization tool helps automate this process by comparing your profile to three or more relevant job descriptions. It then shows you which keywords you’re missing. These keywords are often search terms used by recruiters.
If you’re not much of a writer — and you don’t need to be for most jobs — using your summary to list your most important skills and technologies is a smart alternative to crafting a narrative.
Open up about your career
Your LinkedIn summary isn’t the place for your unabridged biography. However, it is the perfect place to add context to your career trajectory, show off your accomplishments, and dig into what makes you great at your job. This is information that recruiters and prospective employers are interested in knowing.
What’s next for you?
Leave hints as to why you moved from one company to the next. Recruiters want to know if the position they’re filling makes sense as your next step.
“I want to see the progression of not only what job title and what company you were working for, but also a snapshot of the progression of your career,” a healthcare recruiter told Jobscan. “I’m also looking for the logic of why you went from this job to the next job. What caused you to make that transition?”
Much of this will be detailed in your work experience sections, but you can use your summary to control the narrative. For example, you might use your summary to share your interest in a specific discipline within your field. Or how you motivate and enable your team as you look to move into a management role. Or your desire to work with companies that make an impact on a specific segment of the community. Placing these ideas in your summary will help color your entire career history.
What are your greatest accomplishments?
Specific accomplishments should be peppered throughout your work experience sections, but the summary is a great place to collect your greatest accomplishments for additional impact.
You can also combine and generalize accomplishments in this section in ways you can’t in your work experience. For example, if you’re a sales manager who has worked with three different companies, you can say, “Increased regional sales by an average of 72% in my first year at three different companies.”
Learn more about how to write strong accomplishments:
Additional questions to answer in your LinkedIn summary
Thinking about these questions as you craft your LinkedIn profile summary can help show prospective employers what you value, why you’re going places in your career, and whether you’d be a great fit.
- What are your goals and ambitions?
- What are your guiding principles?
- Why are you passionate about your current job or industry?
- Were there any specific pieces of wisdom that you took away from past jobs?
- Is there any unique knowledge you’ve brought into your industry from other life experiences?
Review: LinkedIn summary tips
- Start strong with a catchy opening statement
- Use optimized search terms in your summary
- Don’t be afraid to inject some personality
- Add context to your career story
- Brag about your accomplishments
- Utilize as much of the character limit as you can
- Keep it readable with short paragraphs or bullet points
- Don’t go overboard with special characters
- Use a “call to action” at the end
LinkedIn Summary Examples
Here are a few examples of strong LinkedIn summaries that use different approaches. Take inspiration from these profiles but DO NOT copy them.
Cal, Marketing & Communications Director
Mark, VP of Implementation
Dina, Marketing Executive
Daniel, Customer Experience Specialist
Jessica, Software Engineer
Get additional tips for your profile with Jobscan’s LinkedIn Optimization tool.