Use this simple template and real-world advice to write a LinkedIn summary that's clear and impressive—without sounding boring or obnoxious.
"I'm so excited to write my LinkedIn summary!" said no one ever. That's because most people find it hard to write about themselves. It's an awkward thing to do, especially if you don't know what to say or you don't want to sound like you’re bragging.
But the summary section is an important part of your LinkedIn profile that should not be ignored. When recruiters, employers, clients, and colleagues are using LinkedIn to learn more about you, the summary is your opportunity to tell them who you are and why you are someone they should get to know better. With a blank or poorly written summary, you run the risk of making a bad first impression and losing a professional opportunity (in or outside the legal world).
Luckily, writing an engaging and effective summary isn’t hard to do. In fact, if you look at the most popular LinkedIn Influencers, you’ll see they all use a simple two-step template to write summaries that are clear and impressive—without sounding boring or obnoxious.
My favorite LinkedIn summary example, perhaps not surprisingly, is from Jeff Weiner, CEO of the company. I’ll use this template to breakdown how you should write your own summary:
Step 1: Start with a snapshot of what you’re doing now
He begins his summary with a description of what he is doing now. He starts with his years of experience, his current role, and company.
"Internet executive with over 20 years of experience, including general management of mid to large size organizations, corporate development, product development, business operations, and strategy. Currently CEO at LinkedIn, the web's largest and most powerful network of professionals."
What does your current snapshot look like? Use the following questions to generate some ideas:
- Are you a law student?
- Where do you go to school?
- What type of law do you want to practice?
- What do you hope to do after you graduate?
- Are you an associate, in-house counsel, or solo practitioner?
- How long have you been practicing?
- Where do you work?
- What area of law do you focus on?
- What types of clients do you help?
Distill your answers to a few succinct sentences, and you’re ready for step 2…
Step 2: Highlight your past experience and key achievements
For the second part in his LinkedIn summary, Weiner shares his past experiences at other companies, mainly focusing on the high-level roles and salient achievements.
"Prior to LinkedIn, was an Executive in Residence at Accel Partners and Greylock Partners. Primarily focused on advising the leadership teams of the firm's existing consumer technology portfolio companies while also working closely with the firm’s partners to evaluate new investment opportunities.
Previously served in key leadership roles at Yahoo! for over seven years, most recently as the Executive Vice President of Yahoo!'s Network Division managing Yahoo's consumer web product portfolio, including Yahoo's Front Page, Mail, Search, and Media products."
What does your past look like? Again, use the following questions to generate ideas.
- What did you do prior to law school?
- What other firms or companies have you worked for?
- What awards or honors have you received?
- What are some major professional accomplishments you have achieved?
Once you’ve written another sentence or two, put your summary pieces together. Review the whole thing carefully to make sure it hits all the right notes: clear, straightforward, accurate, engaging, etc.
Along the way, you should ask yourself: If you were the hiring manager at your dream firm or a legal job recruiter, would you want to talk to you after reading your LinkedIn summary?
Bonus step: Add some personality to the mix
If you want to really impress the reader and stand out from the LinkedIn crowd, give folks a sense of who you are beyond your résumé by adding some personal information to your summary. Let people know why you do what you do or what you really care about in your work.
For example, Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of GE, tells us that he "has always been defined by his zealous love of teaching and commitment to building leaders."
Deepak Chopra MD is "committed to helping to create a more peaceful, just, sustainable, happier and healthy world."
Speaker and author Tony Robbins says his "passion has been helping people to BREAKTHROUGH and take their lives to another level—no matter how successful they already are—in the areas that matter most."
By following this simple structure you will have a well-written LinkedIn summary section that will leave any visitor with a great impression of who you are as a new lawyer and professional.
Mo Chanmugham is the Senior Associate Director of Career Services at New England Law | Boston. He ensures students and alumni have the necessary training and tools to find fulfilling postgraduate employment.
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