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LinkedIn Summary vs. LinkedIn Experience Sections

March 29th, 2016

I got this question from Derek, who saw my LinkedIn Optimization course on Pluralsight (which you can get access to for free… read below):

“I just completed the course on LinkedIn Profile Optimization and feel that I have a strong above the fold profile which the video was mainly focused on.

The video didn’t focus on the experience section and what to write based off what you did at the company. You touched on writing mini stories for the summary and experience sections, I am not sure writing only mini stories will give the best overall picture in the experience section. Do you have another video on pluralsight that helps enhance the content for the experience section?”

This is a great question. After doing group trainings and one-on-one consultations for years, I feel like my “best answer” is jelling pretty good. Of course, there are exceptions, but in 99% of the one-on-one consultations I do, and the Profile critiques I’ve done, the answer below will be appropriate.

It’s critical to think about the LinkedIn Profile as one single marketing document.  If you break up the sections of the Profile, and think about them as a critical reader (recruiter, hiring manager, prospective funder, partner, prospect, customer, etc.) might, you could probably guess that some parts are more important than others.  For example, your Professional Headline is not only at the top, but it’s a part of your “mini profile,” and seen in other places on LinkedIn (other than your Profile page). On the other hand, the best way to contact me, or the seeking sections, are largely ignored (by design, because they are so far down the Profile).

If we think about the Profile as a single marketing document, the question is, what is the single message of the document?  I am now counseling my consultation customers to have that single message communicated in a concise and clean way in the Professional Headline.  This is what I call your “main claim,” or your primary claim.  Then, your Summary has five to seven secondary claims, ALL OF THEM SUPPORTING THE MAIN CLAIM.  These can be communicated in various ways, my favorite of which is the mini-stories.

You can see all of this in action in my LinkedIn Profile Optimization course on Pluralsight for free.  How?  JibberJobber users get a free 30 day pass to Pluralsight, which means you can watch this, and dozens of my other courses (including the LinkedIn Proactive Strategies course), during your 30 day window.  Click here to see how you can have access within a 60 seconds – no credit card required.

Okay, so in the Pluralsight course, it’s clear how to position the secondary claims and make your Summary much better than the status quo.  Derek gets that, but wonders what to do in the Experience section, which some people call the job description – the parts in each of the jobs you list in your Profile. This really isn’t a job description, although some people treat it that way. I suggest you make this more about YOU and less about the job.

How do you do that?

I think the best way is to use the exact same strategy as what you used in the Summary section. That is, secondary claims (that all support the primary claim in the Professional Headline), with mini-stories that (a) present the claim, (b) give a “for example,” and (c) quantify the results.

Mini-stories are SO powerful. When you align them with your primary claim, you give further evidence and support that your primary claim is valid, and that you are focused and understand your value.

What I normally see is resume-like statements that are super concise, and super dry and boring. Worse, they look cliche. They look like what anyone else would write that has your same job history, and is making the same claims, and is looking for the same job you are looking for.

Okay, you think, maybe that’s not so bad.  To be honest with you, having resume-speak on your Profile is better than the weak, non-information that I see on too many Profiles. So kudos for having anything that helps me understand you more.

But what I’d rather see you have in your “experience” sections are mini-stories that each (a) make a claim, (b) give me a meaty for-example, and (c) tell me why it matters (ie, the quantification)… this is what we accomplish with mini-stories, and (d) support the primary claim. This last part is important so the reader doesn’t get sidetracked by irrelevant information.

That’s my recommendation… from the summary all the way down through the Experience section… claims, quantification, and alignment.

Do you have a different idea? Leave a comment and let us know!

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