How to write an effective headline and summary statement on LinkedIn
By Sarah Alspaw, Director of Career Development and Student Success
Many students I work with understand the power of the social media website LinkedIn.
They often ask the following questions: “Do I just write a bunch of stuff? Do I repeat what is on my profile, or write something new? How do I make sure someone wants to read it?”
LinkedIn makes it easy to build your profile. If you have a decent resume, most sections can be completed with a simple copy and paste from that document.
The summary statement is a little more complicated, however.
In many ways, your LinkedIn summary statement is comparable to a cover letter. It’s not a good strategy, however, to simply paste in one of your existing cover letters. To start with, you should be writing custom cover letters for each job opportunity you apply for – not simply sending out a generic letter to all of them.
What, then, should you include in your summary?
Take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter who is viewing your profile. What would you want to know, and what would you be looking for?
There is a fine balance to strike between being descriptive and being brief. You don’t want to lose the reader’s attention. But you do want to provide the needed information.
Headline statements should reflect what you are, or what you are seeking. If you are not actively seeking work, a title is best. “Electrical Engineering Student at Capitol Technology University (ABET accredited)” would be a fine choice. However, if you are seeking an internship, co-op, or full-time work, this is a great platform for letting people know.
I would suggest something like this: “Seeking Electrical Engineering Internship or Co-op, EE Student at Capitol Technology University (ABET accredited).”
You may have heard of the so-called elevator pitch. An effective elevator pitch takes between 30-90 seconds. It should not tell your whole professional story, just the highlights. In both your elevator pitch and your LinkedIn summary, I suggest covering 3 main topics: who you are professionally, what you bring to the table, and what you are looking for.
Here’s an example:
“I am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cyber and information security from Capitol Technology University. Capitol has been certified as a Center of Academic Excellence by the DHS and the NSA, and this education has allowed me how to learn how to use my skills in a practical way through my labs and cyber competitions. I became interested in cybersecurity when I went to a Cyber Saturday event at CapTechU my junior year of high school, and have spent every spare minute I could find exploring Cybrary and learning new programming languages on CodeAcademy.
My strengths include my ability to creatively solve problems as well as my ability to keep a team together. These skills were displayed in my Vulnerability Assessment course. I was able to work with a team in an in-class, synthetic lab, to successfully identify a vulnerability that occurred because someone had hooked up a non-approved device. Following that identification, I was able to locate and isolate that device in the network, and worked with my team to find a solution to harden the network to protect against that in the future.
I am seeking an internship or co-op in cybersecurity, IT, or a related field where I can use the skills I am learning in my classroom and in my practical labs and use them in real world scenarios. Please contact me if you are seeking to recruit applicants for internships, co-ops, or part-time work. Also, I would appreciate if you would share my profile with anyone you know who may be seeking applicants, or to send me any leads you know about.”
Again, you can include anything you think is helpful, without being excessively detailed, or repeating things you have listed on your resume or under the experience section of your LinkedIn profile. You do not want it to be too long, in fact, the second paragraph of my example could probably be shortened (although I usually like to support claims of strengths with an example if possible).
Also, do not be afraid to show some (professional) personality – for instance, by making a witty joke. For example: “my strengths lie in my ability to stay organized. I am a little bit overly obsessed with color-coding my calendar, so much so that I have 30 different colors of post-its, making me a post-it addict.”
I suggest going to as many profiles as possible, and reading what others have written, especially those professionals that you admire. Really pay attention to what you are drawn in by, and what keeps you engaged and interested. Chances are, if you find it interesting, recruiters will too. Use those as models (do not directly copy). Lastly, remember that resumes and LinkedIn profiles are living documents. You should regularly review and update the information to keep it relevant, because you never know who is taking a look.