The LinkedIn summary or “about” section is often under-utilized by LinkedIn users. Many leave it completely blank or type in a short tagline better suited for a 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 “about” section 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’ve 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 the 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 it’s one of the first elements visible on your profile and 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 (and can then click “Read More” to open up the full description. However, LinkedIn Recruiter shows the entire summary by default.Left: LinkedIn view | Right: LinkedIn Recruiter view
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.
Jobscan’s LinkedIn Optimization tool analyzes your LinkedIn profile against jobs you’re interested in and industry data to show you exactly which keywords you’re missing.
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. That means that those first 300 characters need to be strong enough to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to learn even more about you.
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 help you 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 to you and your career goals, 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.LinkedIn Optimization results for my profile. Learn more about the tool here.
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 same as a cover letter and it definitely 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.
Controlling the narrative of your career might also look like explaining career gaps or changes, or skills learned through a university setting if you have minimal or no work experience. There are many different ways to express your value and abilities from personal experiences, volunteering, and other training opportunities.
What are your greatest accomplishments?
Specific accomplishments should be peppered throughout your work experience sections, but the summary is a great place to combine your greatest accomplishments into a highlight for additional impact.
You can also generalize and get creative with presenting 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 for the role.
These six questions can help show your personality and values:
- 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?
- In what ways do you add to the culture of your workplace?
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 into your writing
- Add context to the stages of your career story
- Brag about your accomplishments (don’t forget to use specific data and awards!)
- Longer is often better. 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
Get automated tips for your profile with Jobscan’s LinkedIn Optimization tool.
LinkedIn Summary and About Section Examples
Here are 13 examples of strong LinkedIn summaries that use different approaches. Take inspiration from these profiles but DO NOT copy them.
Cal, Marketing & Communications DirectorContextualizes his experience with a personal anecdote, shows off entrepreneurial spirit, and peppers dollar signs and percentages throughout.
Dina, Marketing ExecutiveConfident opening, context into what makes her passionate about her work, keyword dense, and uses every available character. We don’t advise using this many special characters, but the content is very strong.
Daniel, Customer Experience SpecialistContains personality and a look into his interests, but most importantly demonstrates his process and allows prospective employers to see exactly how he would approach the work.
Alaina C., Social Media DirectorShort, easy to read sentences keep this summary moving while still providing important information about who the writer is beyond just a description of their job. This is an excellent example of providing a holistic viewpoint of an individual, beyond just the hard skills.
Michelle V., Software DeveloperThis is an excellent LinkedIn summary for an executive-level employee. She not only highlights her key skills and accomplishments for quick review, but also provides insight to her leadership style when managing others in the company.
Alison H., SEO Content WriterThrowing numbers and percentages in right from the beginning is a great way to grab a readers’ attention and entice them to learn more. The psychological insight via the use of personality tests can also lend a different perspective to not only your skills, but how you might approach different situations in the workplace.
LinkedIn Summary and About Section Examples for Career Changes
Here are several examples of how to write a LinkedIn summary when you’re making a career change or pivot. Again, use these as guides for your LinkedIn About Section, but don’t copy and paste.
Jacob H., Airline Pilot to Aviation Technical WriterEven if you’re making what feels like a big jump, you are likely more qualified than you think you are! Try to provide specific examples of how your previous experience is relevant to your new dream role, and the efforts you are putting in to close any gaps in your education or training.
Michael R., Staffing / Recruiting Account Manager to Software Sales Account ExecutiveThis is a good LinkedIn summary outline to follow for career changes, particularly if you’re looking to stay in the same general line of work but shifting industries or niches. Highlighting key qualities and learnings that also are relevant to your new direction can help keep hiring managers focused on the good.
LinkedIn Summary and About Section Examples for Students Seeking Internships
Your LinkedIn summary is also important for students who are not yet in the workforce, still working on a college degree, or applying for internships. Here are three examples of how to “work with what you’ve got” and make a great first impression on LinkedIn.
Daniel R., Public Policy Analysis StudentThis summary is clear and direct, easy to read, and outlines both the skills gained from university classwork and a previous internship which can help boost confidence in your abilities.
Sarah T., Arts and Culture Management StudentThis is an excellent example of leaning on your personal character qualities and providing clear examples of how they will enhance your ability to do the job well. At the internship level, you don’t have to have a ton of experience to be well-suited for the roles. Sharing about your personality and values can be equally important.
Kelly L., Digital Arts & Sciences StudentAnother clever strategy is to expound on the unique learning opportunities you’ve experienced in college. Study abroad experiences, volunteer work, and personal passion projects can all be useful ways to express the value you have to offer.