Is Your LinkedIn Profile Keeping You From A Great Career?

Photo by Joe Kane

In your search for the perfect civilian job after the military, you’ve most likely heard that creating a LinkedIn profile is a vital part of the process. Everyone says it works wonders to boost your visibility, and any time now, you’ll start getting those calls. Any time… It’s only been…

Two days…

Two weeks….

Two months…

What’s going on here? It works so well for others. Just the other day, your friend said he got three recruiters’ calls through LinkedIn, so why aren’t you getting calls, too?

Well, the answer may be to look closely at your profile summary. You have that important summary box, which you left blank, added just a one-liner, or maybe stuffed with a lot of keywords without any real consideration of what they say about you and your skill set. Of course, using keywords is essential in a summary, but there is more to it than just that.

Your LinkedIn summary is the most important aspect of your profile, where you should tell potential employers all about you --- who you are, what your strengths are, where you want to be, and what you’re looking for.

Here’s how you can write the perfect profile summary for your LinkedIn account.

You have 2,000 characters, so use them.

If people were interested in reading just a line or two, you would have been offered just 200 characters, right?

LinkedIn knows what the target market seeks and provides 2,000 characters in the summary section, so every word and every sentence ensures that your reader knows something more about you. Make these sentences accomplishment driven. For example, use power verbs such as “recognized as …, hand-picked for …, volunteered to do…”  While you don’t want to add extraneous information just to fill this space up, use it to its full potential, and you’ll see a difference.

One huge paragraph? No, break it up.

Using those 2,000 characters does not mean you churn out one huge block of text. That’s probably going to bring water to the readers’ eyes right after two sentences, followed by them closing your profile. What you need to do is break it up with headers, sub-headers, and bullets. Make it visually appealing --- something that looks well-organized will gain the right kind of attention.

Be engaging and original.

Include your experiences, your interests, and your skills in a manner that is engaging and easy to read. While you don’t need to include a “Once upon a time…” kind of story, your profile summary should encourage the reader to keep reading. For example, “During a training session on field safety for health care volunteers, I developed a natural aptitude for organization and leadership. I found handling a team of 20 people from different backgrounds and of all ages to be very rewarding because I was able to effectively teach them how to work together.”

Don’t be afraid to write in first-person narrative.

Yes, this is the place for you. No one else is writing your profile, so why should it be in any other form than first-person?

Third-person summaries are often considered boring, and leave the reader disconnected from the candidate. People would rather feel like they are being drawn into a conversation. Profiles with summaries written in first-person come across as more personable, authentic, and trustworthy. They project your image better and help you seem more confident.

Be clear about what you’re looking for.

You have all the above points in your summary, and yet it still doesn’t work. Why?

If you have not come out and said what you actually want, then people will not know what action to take. If you are looking for a job at a higher position and you just list your past experiences without mentioning what post you are aiming for in your next career move, the chances are you’ll get called for parallel posts.

Want employers to contact you? Leave your details.

You’ve told readers all about you, and you have told them what you are looking for. Now, give them the opportunity to take action. Include your email address, phone number, or other contact details, and make it simple for recruiters or employers to get in touch with you.

Your LinkedIn profile summary can be your make-or-break point in an online job hunt. Don’t make it glib and boring. Be creative, and remember that humor can be a part of it, too. You don’t have to be uptight in your summary to be seen as worthwhile --- just be true to yourself and your career goals.

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