Over the years, I’ve reviewed many LinkedIn profiles of executive job seekers. And, even though plenty of evidence is stacked against it, way too many have NO LinkedIn About section or a severely anemic one.
These job seekers are neglecting a golden opportunity to tell their personal brand story.
Maybe they’re not actively job seeking, or just beginning a search. No matter, most anyone with a career or doing business in any way needs a complete LinkedIn profile.
No job is permanent these days. Those who are easily found online because their LinkedIn profiles are fully populated with keyword-rich content are way ahead of the game.
People who skip right over the About section were either:
- In a hurry initially to have some kind of presence on LinkedIn, no matter how minimal. They quickly filled in a bit of info in the Experience section, and did nothing else, probably figuring they’d come back to it later. Or,
- Didn’t know how important this section is, so they ignored it entirely.
What’s so important about the LinkedIn About section?
According to LinkedIn Content Strategist Kate Reilly:
“Your summary or About section is the one place you define yourself in your own words, free of start dates and titles. Whether you use it to put career choices in context, highlight your biggest achievements, or show off your personality, the summary is your chance to put your best self out there. It strengthens your first impression in a way no other Profile section can.”
LinkedIn provides various sections – Headline, Experience, Skills and Endorsements, Education, etc. You’ll use those sections to showcase and describe your many “hard” skills, strengths and achievements.
Think of the About section similarly, but take it further.
For my clients, I go beyond just the hard skills and weave in “soft” skills too. I treat this section like a biography, which affords the opportunity for storytelling . . . probably the best way to showcase your personal brand.
Storytelling is key
The About section is where you tell your career brand story.
If you’ve ever listened to a great storyteller, you know how connected it made you feel to the person and what they said.
In job search, storytelling works similarly. Building stories around your skill sets, accomplishments, and good-fit qualities helps attract people to you and differentiates the unique value you offer.
Storytelling helps you make a more vibrant connection with people than the dry resume-speak too often used in LinkedIn profiles.
It helps you generate chemistry for you as a candidate, compelling hiring decision makers to want to learn more about you by asking for an interview.
Storytelling helps employers get a feel for the kind of person you are, what you’re like to work with, and how you make things happen. It helps people envision you on the job, contributing in the ways you describe in your stories.
Prompt your brand story with questions like these:
- What makes me passionate about the work I do, and the work I will do for future employers?
- Which combination of strengths and skills do I have that no one else does?
- What ROI (Return on Investment) do I have that makes me the best hiring choice?
- What makes me a good leader or manager?
- How have I engaged and motivated my people to top performance?
- How did my past jobs lead me to where I am today?
- What work responsibilities would I take on even if I wasn’t paid for them?
- What work responsibilities do I look forward to most?
- How do I help my team or co-workers succeed in their work?
- What would the impact to my employer be if I wasn’t there, doing my job?
LinkedIn About Section Placement
In the past, LinkedIn allowed you to move the About section up or down in your profile. I don’t see that capability now with my profile.
As it stands now (and things can change in an instant), LinkedIn members will see your About section below the Featured and Activity sections.
If you haven’t populated the Featured section and you’re not actively posting updates and commenting (which triggers the Activity section to appear in your profile), your About section will sit higher in your profile.
That’s a good thing. The higher up on a page, the more likely people will see it.
But that doesn’t mean it would be better to neglect those 2 sections in favor of moving your About section higher.
The Featured section is valuable because it typically contains images and personal branding video that help draw readers in, making it more likely that people will read more of your profile.
Having a populated Activity section may be even more valuable. Staying active on LinkedIn (posting updates, publishing articles, commenting on others’ posts, etc.) shows that you’re a media-savvy power networker and that you’re up to date with the new world of work.
13 Strategies To Elevate Your LinkedIn About section
1. Start with targeting, research and personal branding
If you haven’t done this work, the sooner you start, the better.
You need to know:
- Which companies/organizations you want to work for.
- What things about you make you a good fit and what problems you’re equipped to help them solve.
- What differentiates you from others competing against you.
Use my personal branding and job search worksheets to identify all the info you’ll need.
2. Pay close attention to the first several lines
The first 3-4 lines show up without having to click on “see more”. Make sure they capture attention and make people want to read more.
And, get your most important relevant keywords in at the beginning of the section. Your keywords will have better SEO impact when placed first.
3. Use enhancements for visual appeal
- Add 3-5 bullet points to highlight hard-hitting achievements and/or metrics, focused around your top relevant keywords and phrases, with a brief description of how you achieved these things.
- Include plenty of white space and short paragraphs of no more than 3-5 lines.
- Further improve visual appeal by adding italics, bolding and other enhancements with a site like Cool Symbol.
- Add some pizazz by copying and pasting in special characters like the ones you’ll find on Job-Hunt.org.
- Break down the information into sub-sections, with headers in all caps, as I’ve done in my LinkedIn About section.
4. Be empathetic
Put yourself in the shoes of the people who will be assessing you for the jobs you want – employers, recruiters and other hiring professionals.
- Make it easy for them to find the information about you that tells them you’re a good fit for them.
- Make it clear to them that you have what they need, so you’re a good hiring choice.
5. Don’t be afraid to show your personality
Too many people neglect the “personal” (or personality, or soft skills) piece of their personal brand.
That piece helps generate chemistry for you as a candidate much better than focusing mostly on your hard skills.
6. Show your passions outside of work
Speaking about your interests outside of work will help people understand you better. This works best if you can present your interests in a way that supports the strengths you use at work.
7. Be careful with your employment status
Be very careful about presenting your current status.
If you’re job-hunting under cover, don’t indicate in the About section (or anywhere else) that you’re seeking XYZ. You’d be outing your job search and could jeopardize your current job.
If you are unemployed, it’s fine to include a phrase like “I’m currently seeking a role in XYZ” somewhere in the About section.
8. Fully populate the section
Use as many of the 2,600 characters and spaces available to you as you can. You may be surprised by how much you can do with that amount of space.
I’ve seen this number vary in other people’s posts. I just checked the limit on my profile (go in to edit the About section and you’ll see the total), and it reads 2,600.
9. Write in first person
Use the word “I” sparingly, but keep to first person voice. People will connect better to the content if they feel you’re speaking to them from your own voice.
10. Make it interesting to read
- Give yourself permission to be bold and authentic. You’re not boasting. You’re educating people about what makes you a good-fit candidate for the employers you’re targeting.
- Add a quote of yours or someone else’s, speaking about the value you offer. Use something that’s not already in one of your LinkedIn recommendations.
- Include a brief paragraph about why you chose your profession or industry.
- Leave a little room at the bottom of the section to list misspellings and variations of your name, so that people using them to search for you will still find your profile.
11. Use storytelling
As noted earlier, this is one of the best places on LinkedIn to draw people in with storytelling.
Use the C-A-Rs (Challenge – Actions – Results) method to build out your stories with specific examples and metrics.
12. Use keywords to your advantage
More of the right keywords included in your About section (and elsewhere in your profile) boosts your profile’s ranking, so it will land higher in search results for those keywords.
Recruiters and other hiring professionals will be more likely to find you on LinkedIn when they’re sourcing candidates like you.
You’ll get the right keywords to use through the research I mentioned earlier.
But don’t over-pack with keywords. Keywords typically represent your hard skills. Strike a good balance between them and content that reinforces your personality and personal attributes, or soft skills.
13. Proofread it very carefully
Create the content for the About section (and the rest of your profile) in a Word document, so you can easily spell check and then manually proofread, before you post the content to your profile.
I can’t tell you how many typos and misspellings I’ve seen on profiles that led me to wonder how good that person was with written communications.
Example of a Stellar LinkedIn About Section
Kate Reilly’s article from above includes several examples of great LinkedIn Summaries, including this one (as it reads today):
Chief Product Officer at VTS, Inc.
According to Reilly, Gijo’s About section stands out because he:
- Nails the opener by succinctly stating what he does and why and why he’s good at it.
- Casts accomplishments as lessons learned, a subtle humility that makes him even more likable.
- Organizes his points to read like true introspection and career synthesis, not jargon.
- Includes numbers (proof) to quantify his achievements.
- Concludes by asking for connections.
Gijo’s personal brand is abundantly evident in the compelling content. You can see the person behind all the impressive accomplishments.
His About section may be so appealing to you, you’re thinking of using some of it for your own. Don’t even consider copying any of it.
Here’s why you should never copy anyone’s LinkedIn profile.