The following is an excerpt from the BlueSteps Workshop: Creating a High-Impact LinkedIn Profile. BlueSteps members can listen to the recording here.
Non-members can join BlueSteps here, which will unlock access our full webinar/workshop archive.
Panelists: Stephen Van Vreede and Tiffany Hardy, BlueSteps executive career advisors.
Moderator: Kathy Simmons, Director, BlueSteps Executive Career Services.
Kathy: All right, so let's talk about the true beginning of a lot of the opportunity to really get your message out there. It's the about section. Let's start with you, Stephen. What's the objective in the about section? And let's talk a little bit about how you achieve that objective.
Stephen: Well, overall, in your about section, I guess to stay strategically, you want to tell a story. You want your LinkedIn profile to read like a narrative. The last thing you want is to have it be a carbon copy of your resume. The resume is written in these short, choppy sentence fragments with no articles, no a, an, is etc. You want to avoid that, if possible. You want it to be readable, something people can engage in, especially the about section.
Stephen: This is your opportunity to get them kind of hooked on who you are and why they should have any interest in you. At a high level, some of the things you want to include in the about section are: you want to start with the unique skillset that you have to offer and the value that it brings to the prospective employer that you want to target.
Stephen: The next piece is, you want to be able to tell your career story in a pretty concise why. Give a summary of, "Hey, I've worked with these companies…," if they're household names or well-recognized names in an industry that you’re targeting. That can be helpful to have up in the about section.
Stephen: Don't be afraid to talk about how you got started, a little bit of background. I work with a lot of people in technology who say, "Hey, I started taking apart fans when I was five-years-old," or doing something in the garage with my grandfather. That's something that can help make the story about you compelling, a lot more compelling than a lot of the sanitized garbage that people have in their profiles today.
Stephen: I always like to include something that's a little bit distinct from a visual perspective. LinkedIn does not do a good job, in my opinion, of allowing you as an individual to easily format your profile, so it's more than just block text. But there are some bullets and other types of features that you can put in there manually to give your profile a little bit of a different look and feel.
Stephen: I've done that here in this particular case. I've chosen a few areas of expertise that I wanted to make sure stood out about this candidate, so you can see there's some of these, the bullet arrow that's here, to make sure that these items stand out.
Stephen: Third person versus first-person? This should be written in first-person. This is you writing your LinkedIn profile, not someone else writing your LinkedIn profile. Even if you hire Tiffany or myself to do it, we would do it in first-person. At least from my perspective, you want to do it as if you were the one writing it.
Tiffany: Yeah, absolutely. I think many people on LinkedIn choose to take the kind of colder, third-person approach as Stephen said, essentially copy and pasting their resume summaries onto their LinkedIn about section, but this misses an opportunity to engage with the reader on a more personal level in a way that's going to invite conversation and connection.
Tiffany: LinkedIn is social media. It's not a resume, and your audience doesn't just include people who might want to hire you. It includes your team members, your friends, your business associates, your bosses, so you want to think about the broader audience. Ultimately, you want your profile to be a conversation starter. Writing in a way that invites readers to reach out and shows that you're open to connections facilitates that. I find that the first-person, storytelling-style is best for that.
Tiffany: Just another quick note, having a very developed about section helps your profile rank high. If you really fill this in, that can be very helpful. Now, of course, you have to do it in a way that's readable, and, Stephen, I absolutely agree with you that having these visual sections can help with that. There are things that you can do to really break up the content. You don't want long, dense paragraphs. You want it to be very readable and for the reader to be able to skim it.
Kathy: Great points. I like the distinction you made about the resume summary versus this conversation starter. One thing that I like to say to people is that, to me, the about section, in some ways, is a little bit like your brochure, but it's also, as to your points, both of you, is that your goal here is also engagement. It's not just social proof. Having it too resume-like can often keep people from really reaching out to you.