Update your Summary

– Besides being a people person, who are you really?

This field is the most under utilised on LinkedIn and that is such a waste.

People in HR and Recruitment will tell you great stories about the cover page of a candidate’s CV. This cover page is supposed to be one that addresses the desired employer company directly, highlights some skills or experience most relevant to the position, and gives good reasons why the interviewer should pay attention to this CV to make an appointment to interview.

However, most of them start with “Dear Sir / Madam” or “To Whom it May Concern”. It will then go on to say that the candidate is both a people person and a great project leader, simultaneously pays attention to detail and can see the big picture and can both work well in a team or on their own.

Really it says nothing at all and is a waste.

On many LinkedIn profiles you see the same thing – a Summary lifted from a CV cover page that gives vague, arbitrary and useless information.

Take the time to make your Summary section really connects with your desired audience.

Who do you want to connect with? Are you trying to find a new job yourself? Are you trying to find clients for your own company or for your employer? Are you a professional in a specific field where you want to highlight your expertise and talk about the kinds of projects you like to work on or would love to collaborate with others?


Where is my Summary field?


If you don’t see it, then you need to add it from under the Sections part of your edit Profile. LinkedIn has a great feature where, if a field is not filled in, the empty field does not appear on your Profile. So if you don’t have Publications, a tertiary education, or a Summary, no empty blocks appear to draw attention to what you do not have. Neat feature. So go and look for the empty fields during your review process and fill in what ever you can to flesh out your profile.


Now what do I put into it so that I sound right?


I nearly wrote “… so that I sound sophisticated” but that assumes that ‘sophisticated’ is the style you are going for. Please don’t copy someone else’s profile style unless it is authentic to your own.

What are you trying to say on your profile? Who is your audience? And what are you trying to achieve? Perhaps you should write this down so that you can refer back to it. You may be a sophisticated professional in an exclusive field and you want to communicate that so that you deter the people who would waste your time. But perhaps you want to attract the every day man, and demystify an unnecessary complicated field so that you can broaden your customer base. Are you going to use acronyms so that you only speak to your in-crowd, or are you going to use simpler words so that people from outside your field can understand you?

This is your profile! How do you want to connect with your desired audience?


A Formula


Warning: Many people simply make a list of all their skills and show it as a bullet list. This works for either highly analytical/ technical people (not a ‘people person’) or for youngsters who are entering the job market and want to show that they have done all these tasks:

•    Answered the phone
•    Handled walk in clients
•    Did the petty cash
•    Filing
•    Handled in-coming and out-going post
•    Answered some emails

That’s fine for when you have too little to put onto your CV. But when you have experience as a ‘office manager’, you undermine your position by listing all the little tasks associated with that. Rather aim for a combination of Title + Objectives Achieved = Value to Employer / Client.

  • Office Manager responsible for efficient and economical running of the Gauteng branch resulting in our team achieving a head office award.
  • Experienced sales executive working with long term, turnkey projects helping clients achieve their forecasts.

So what goes into it?!

Your Summary is not a list of the places where you worked (that is listed below in your Experience section) and neither is it a list of the skills you have (which can be explained in the Description of your Experience field). The Summary explains who you are, and why you are in your field. Perhaps  you can use it to talk about the projects that you most enjoy working on and the clients that you would like to connect with. Maybe you take the time to explain a little about your field and why it is so important for other people to have an idea of what your skills can contribute to their work.

An example

We have worked with a number of interns over the past few years. One lovely young lady who worked for us, gave herself the title “Digital marketing intern” on LinkedIn. I loved it. But she was also studying part time to complete her Honours in English Literature.

When we discussed this, I wanted to know why she was working so hard in the digital field when her passion clearly lay with books and literature. She explained that her dream job was to work in marketing for a book publisher.

Now that makes for a great Summary explanation on LinkedIn, to tie up her current position to her Education section lower down.

Not all of us can reveal our dream jobs on LinkedIn – not while we are employed at a stepping stone towards it. But this is a good example of how one can use this section.

How did you get to this position you are in now? Why would you choose this career path again? Or this field? What excites you about your work or your industry?

Of course, if your job is dreary and you want to move on, you may not be able to use it this way, but then dig deeper into LinkedIn to find a more stimulating opportunity.


But whatever you are looking for, take the time to review your Summary and make sure it represents you well. If necessary, ask a colleague or friend to review it and give you some honest feedback.


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