Some people hate to write about themselves. That is what Mary, 59, a Product Director, said to me yesterday as we began to create her LinkedIn Profile. She went on to reveal why. “I find it very hard to brag about myself or write out puffy statements that say I’m so great. That’s why my LinkedIn profile has a job title, no work descriptions, and a simple summary statement that says “15 Years of experience in product management. That’s pretty weak I know.”
Mary has a lot of folks who feel the same way. They look at the task of writing their profile and they just freeze. They don’t seem able to find the words to say. And many aren’t sure what belongs in their Summary (also called the About) section. I see so many mistakes and summaries written years ago that haven’t been updated. You should not ignore this all-important career management tool. So if it’s been a while since you made an update to the Summary – take the time to change it now.
In the old days, people just posted a few statements from their resume, and then add in some specialties or work competencies. This style is out-of-date, ineffective, and can make you seem out-of-touch or even a dinosaur. You don’t use this profile section as a biography either. These mistakes give the wrong impression. If you are over 50, you can’t afford to look dated, old-fashioned, or out-of-touch on LinkedIn. Contrary to what you may have done in the past, Summaries are no longer advertisements written like they came off a press release, a job description, or a resume.
Here is a quick example of an OLD Style I just pulled off of LinkedIn:
POOR EXAMPLE of a Summary
10+ years in communications and managing PR campaigns with experience working in both agency and corporate settings.
– Executive Communications:
– Event planning, marketing, promotion, and oversight
– Media relations
– Spokesperson communications
– Social media and influencer relations
– Content strategy
– Digital advertising
I asked several HR colleagues their thoughts about writing the all-important Summary About section on LinkedIn. I emailed several recruiters and kept hearing the same advice that most individuals never do.
Lizzie Rahm, Senior HR Manager over Recruiting & Talent Acquisition for Clark Nuber summed it up nicely. “I’m looking for new info about the person. Tell us something new, make it a personal statement meaning talk about yourself at work, not personal hobbies, or facts. Try to be warm and engaging. What are you like to work with? Share what type of manager you are if you supervise people. Job hunting? Share what kind of opportunity you want. If you are trying to sell your company, spin it so you mention why you like working there.”
Here is a good client example on how to sound engaging and personable and get your point across. In this case, he is looking to help new clients.
Excellent EXAMPLE of a Summary ABOUT Section
Executive Leadership Coaching for CEOs having developed four companies with over twenty years of experience leading those companies as CEO/President. I enjoy seeing executives grow and be in a better position to lead their organizations. I have both a global and a micro view of the company. I enjoy working with people and the more challenging the job, the more rewarding when it is done.
My clients say that I’m the “Get Things Done” guy. I’m very detailed oriented and quality-driven. Clients like that I give them excellent explanations on what they need to do so they are fully informed. They find the experience to be very educational and beneficial. When I am helping them manage a large project, the CEO and project leaders say, I relieve a lot of their stress.
If you would like to chat with me about becoming a client just email me: LIST EMAIL.
Seven Writing Tips
Here are some key guidelines to use to make your ABOUT Summary section more impressive and personable at the same time.
1. Create a powerful first two lines.
When a person comes to your LinkedIn page, they only see the first few sentences of your summary. They need to hit “show more”, to read everything you wrote. The first sentence must be a very strong, powerful sentence that sell you and makes the reader want to clink to read more about you. Use the opening sentence to summarize the work experience and the job you do or want to do. Write this in the third person – it’s a statement. It must be immediately clear to any reader what value you offer. It needs to be easily discernible to the recruiter, prospective client, another colleague, your boss, or a potential boss. Write concisely but specifically.
2. Write everything else in the first person
After the opening introduction, switch to writing in first person. Display your personality. Tell your story. Use “I”. To be effective, think useful info in a self-marketing way.
3. Target your reader
Pretend you are having a conversation with a colleague, a recruiter, or a prospective client. How would you talk to them and introduce yourself? What would you want them to know? You want to have your personality come out here. Hiring managers and recruiters are looking at prospective fits. You may have some special background or something a boss or client has said about you that you wish to emphasize. Prospective clients are looking at your background and expertise to determine if you can help them. People constantly scope out executives. You represent your company, and yourself, so ensure you give off an impressive leader that others like kind of vibe.
4. Use a testimonial
If there is a nice quote from a boss or colleague about you, use it here. A quote or client testimonial is an excellent way to show off a special experience or skill.
5. Call to action or nice conclusion
Tell the reader any action step you want the person to take. Anyone can say, I like to connect with colleagues or with people in the field. If you are an unemployed job hunter, try saying: I’m a “STATE YOUR JOB TITLE” who is currently open to a new job opportunity, if you have something that might fit email me: list your email. A business consultant or entrepreneur can state, If I can be of help to you, contact me at: PASTE EMAIL, or visit my website at: LIST WEBSITE URL.
6. Write, edit, proof
List the top-selling points that you want people to know about you. Ask yourself: What makes you stand out from others in your field? Zero in on one or two things. You have the Experience section to note the major accomplishments of your work. The Summary highlights a few things and is the spot where you share a bit of your personality and what you are like to work with. We want to get an idea of what the real YOU is like. After you write out your first draft, set it down for one day. Go back and read it when it’s cold. Edit, and polish it up.
7. Get feedback before you post it
Proof carefully and have one or two others read over your summary for feedback before you post it online. If you are a professional not looking for a job, your boss might be ideal. If you are a job hunter, get a colleague who knows your industry to offer insight. A consultant needs a client or colleague to look it over. After you make tweaks based on their input, post the summary.
This article originally appeared in Forbes.com.