We've all been there before. Staring at a blank text box, wondering what's supposed to go there.

How are you supposed to summarize your life in a way that's both professional and appealing? Eye-catching, but serious? Confident, but not bragging?

The summary is arguably the most difficult part of your LinkedIn profile to create. That's because there are no clear guidelines on what works best. Only one thing is certain. Leaving your summary empty isn't the way to go.

Even though it can be intimidating, your summary section is your greatest opportunity.

1. Tell a Story

Use your summary to construct a narrative. Here, your reader should learn how the different pieces of your work experience fit together. We don't need to hear your whole life story. And that's a good thing.

You can pick the strongest pieces of your work history to highlight and ignore the parts that weren't relevant.

If your profile hints at any red flags, for example, an extended period without work, the summary is your chance to be proactive. Are you a committed parent who took time off? Did you overcome a significant health issue? Work it into your story.

Believe it or not, we're all human. And we all like a good story.

2. Use Keywords

Now we get down to the nitty-gritty. After all, your LinkedIn summary isn't just a story. It should be optimized so potential connections can find you.

Make sure your summary includes keywords - the words or phrases you want people to associate with your name. Keywords can be topics like "marketing" and "real estate," or skills such as "SEO" and "statistical analysis."

Beware of keyword stuffing, or packing in tons of keywords so that you'll rank in search results. Your summary should always be readable, which leads us to another important component.

3. Don't Forget Design

A readable summary relies mostly on clear language. But other factors can help or hurt your readability.

LinkedIn is an online platform. So you need to write for the web. Novels might contain paragraphs that go on for pages (hopefully not though). Web sites do not. If you take a look at most popular blogs, you might notice an interesting trend. Their paragraphs are short. Sometimes just one sentence. Or two.

4. Content Is Key

Get others to read your summary not only for grammatical errors but for the content. If you can afford it might be worth having a professional help you craft the right message that will get the attention of people in your industry.

That's because reading online isn't like reading from the page. People skim for main points. They aren't willing to commit to a long read. So stick with short paragraphs or sections. Feel free to include links or media, a feature included on your LinkedIn profile.

No matter how long or descriptive your LinkedIn summary is, make sure it looks good too.

Published on: Jul 19, 2017
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