Six steps for a compelling LinkedIn “About” section
Lisa Davidson is a writer and Account Manager at Thought-Horizon. Joanna Gerber is an intern at Thought-Horizon and a student at Wesleyan University.
When executed well, your LinkedIn “About” section can show future clients or employers what makes you unique in both a professional and a personal context. It’s one of the few places where your personal life and your work life intersect to frame your true self.
Still, a shockingly high number of people hardly use their “About” section, either leaving it blank or jotting down a mere sentence or two about their current job title. Don’t be one of them. Considering that a strong “About” section helps you stand out as an authentic, earnest and qualified candidate should make you realize what a waste this is.
We get it. Writing your LinkedIn profile summary is probably not your favorite thing to do. You might not even be sure what to say. But no worries, we’re here to help.
1.2Start off strong and make it personal.
The first few sentences of your “About” section need to be powerful. Someone will see the first 300 or so characters of this section before reaching the “see more” button. So make sure readers are hooked by the time they see that button.
So, where do you begin?
Start with an eye-catching sentence. It could be an anecdote from your childhood that first sparked your interest in business, a challenge you’re proud you overcame or a specific accomplishment in your career. It should be something that sets you apart and makes viewers of your profile curious to learn more about you.
2.2You’re more than your resume: Tell your story.
The “About” section is unique due to its length. You don’t have to confine yourself to just a few phrases or sentences like so many other parts of your profile. Here, you have 2,000 characters to showcase your voice and your story.
Along with discussing your current position, this is the place to explain the trajectory of your career. How did you get here? What inspired you to change fields, or pursue a new role, or start your own company? Explain what led you from one job to the next. Employers want to ensure that their company makes sense as your next step, and to do so, they need to fully understand your professional history.
However, the “About” section isn’t just about your career: It’s also about you. Don’t be afraid to add a few personal details at the end – hobbies you’re passionate about, your favorite sports teams or somewhere you love to travel. Give your readers an idea of who you are outside of the workplace, too.
3.2Don’t just list skills – share specific accomplishments.
Think of the “About” section as a place to retrace your steps from the beginning of your career until now. What are your greatest achievements? What accomplishments best showcased your talent and honed your skills?
Highlights from your career could be a book you wrote, a product you helped develop or statistics that show how effective your sales tactics are. Anyone who took a high school English class was told to “show, not tell.” The same goes for your LinkedIn page.
And remember: Future employers and clients shouldn’t have to take you at face value when you tell them what skills you have. Make sure to incorporate concrete evidence and examples that prove your expertise.
4.2Make it easy to read and navigate.
It’s easy to get lost in long, dense paragraphs. The key to making your profile readable and digestible is including plenty of white space. This means breaking up paragraphs into smaller pieces and giving your reader the chance to take in content as comfortably as possible. You can even make bullet-point lists detailing your accomplishments.
Additionally, you can create subheadings to make your “About” section easier to navigate. Ideas for separate topics include “What I do,” “How to reach out,” and so forth to make your profile accessible and easy to absorb.
5.2Use plenty of keywords.
Check out the “Your Dashboard” heading under your profile. There, you should be able to see keywords that people searched that helped them find your profile. Your keywords are not optimized if you don’t see any search terms popping up on your profile.
But don’t worry, there is an easy fix: Take a look at profiles of people with jobs similar to yours, and take note of which keywords and skills repeatedly come up. Edit your profile to include the ones that also apply to you. Including various keywords will make it easier for recruiters and potential clients to discover you among the masses of similar professionals.
6.2Be thorough and honest.
It’s better to be too thorough than to leave people wondering, so don’t be afraid to dig deep. If you aren’t sure if something is crucial enough to add to your “About” section, include it! You have 2,000 characters: Use them all, and use them deliberately. Figure out where your personal life and your industry knowledge overlap, and include those details. Decide what’s most interesting about your identity and share that, too. Talk about challenges you’ve gone through, accomplishments you’ve achieved and goals you still have for your future. Your “About” section will make you memorable, but only if you choose to open up and show your true self.
It’s time to get started!
Ultimately, the “About” section is exactly what it sounds like: a place for you to open up about who you are and how you got here. Just as important as what you do is why you do it. In a corporate world that can often feel so distant and impersonal, the “About” section is a window into something more. It’s a story that tells us not only about your career but about you as a person.
What are some details you’ve featured in your own “About” section? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!