In Part 1 of How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile , I discuss how to optimize the Introduction section, or top portion, of your LinkedIn profile. Now, in this post, I discuss how to write and optimize your LinkedIn About section.
Writing this important section is a challenge — for just about everyone, even for seasoned professionals. It can be hard to know where to begin and what to include, especially if you don’t have a lot of professional experience yet. Even if you do have experience, your resume, skills and volunteer experiences are below this section because you’ve uploaded your resume, so what does the About need to cover that isn’t already obvious?
Not knowing the answers to one or more of these questions and/or not being a very confident creative writer is why many LinkedIn members skimp on, or just skip, writing their About section. This is a big mistake and one that can make you look like you don’t fully understand how to properly use today’s most important professional social network.
The Purpose of the LinkedIn About Section
While you can certainly get away with not having much of a bio/about on other social media platforms, LinkedIn is different. You are on LinkedIn to engage with other people in your field and industry and to find and tap professional opportunities. People want to hire and do business with people they trust and like, so explaining who you are as a professional and also as a person is essential to having a truly optimized LinkedIn profile.
Think about it this way: Why does LinkedIn allot you 2600 characters (which translates to anywhere between 350 to 600 words depending upon spaces) if it wasn’t very important to describe and detail who you are as a person beyond your title, resume and other details that everyone else has on their profiles? In fact, LinkedIn upped the character count by 600 from 2022 for this section. So yes, your About is important.
Getting Found: Optimizing Your Profile for Search Results With Keywords
The other reason to write a robust About that utilizes most, if not all, of those 2600 characters is for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Your About gives you an excellent opportunity to include even more keywords (beyond those you used in your headline) that will make your profile more searchable and ultimately more visible in search results to recruiters and prospects on LinkedIn. Google and other search engines also routinely deliver LinkedIn’s users profiles and blog posts to its search results.
More on keywords/SEO below and in the part 1 post, but here’s a helpful post from Hootsuite if you want more info on SEO and LinkedIn: 2023 LinkedIn SEO: 5 Tried Tips for Better Reach.
Here are 9 tips to help you successfully write your LinkedIn About
Okay, it’s time to get to it; it’s time to shine on LinkedIn with that fully optimized About! Here are nine tips to help you get started:
1. Be inspired by LinkedIn profiles from people in your field and beyond
Read profiles of people who work in your field, for a company or brand you want to work for and alums in your major. Look at a range — very experienced, mid career and entry level. Take it all in, and by that I mean, write notes about how the ones you like are structured and bookmark profiles that you like and are effective. See what you think works and what doesn’t. (You will probably be surprised at how many skimpy two- sentence Abouts you find.)
Here’s an article by Kate Reilly for LinkedIn’s Talent blog that highlights 14 good About sections, along with some excellent tips for writing yours. Not surprisingly, the author’s own About is a good example too. Keep in mind, these were written with the 2000 character limit, and while a few seem a bit on the short side, they all have some worthy gems to learn from, especially when it comes to crafting a branding statement.
Don’t be intimidated if you’re lacking experience. We all start somewhere. But do pay attention to how more recent grads fill in the gaps and still manage to tell inspiring and engaging professional stories despite more limited experience. The examples I use below from Jill, Hana and Sean were written right before they graduated.
2. Write in first person
An About is not a typical bio that you might see on a company website, which is often written in third person. LinkedIn’s About empowers you to tell your own story in your own words and this is why writing in first person — I am a people person and not Susan is a people person — is a must. The same first-person rule is true for an about for a professional portfolio or a blog too.
The first-person exception on LinkedIn is for people whose pronouns are “they/them.” In that case they would use the third-person pronouns instead.
3. Begin with a greeting followed by your branding, or mission, statement
Start with Hi or Hello. This is a nice touch that personalizes your introduction. (I like and use the waving hello emoji too.) Follow with your name (include a comma after Hi or Hello and after your name) and what you want to be doing, or are doing and for whom. This is essentially your branding, or mission, statement. Here are some examples:
You can also put your name after your branding/mission statement, like this example form a former student of mine:
Here’s another excellent real-life example:
Don’t let the idea of needing a mission or writing a branding/mission statement intimidate you. It’s just a statement(s) declaring what you do and why. You don’t have to be fancy or clever, but do put yourself out there a bit. I always tell my students that authentic writing will always feels a little uncomfortable or you’re not doing it right. Say it in plain language, and say it simply, but say something that shows what matters to you:
Another strategy is to use three-power words to create a branding statement. I use this as a branding exercise with my students and it works well to get them started in thinking about and then articulating their professional qualities and values. I will be publishing a post about the three-power-word-branding sentence soon (I promise!) For now, here are some examples of this strategy, which also is a must for cover-letter writing, in action:
4. Create a LinkedIn About narrative, not just lists
Think of your About as a kind of cover letter to a potential employer. And just like you would never write a cover letter in third person, you also would never just submit bulleted lists of what’s already on your resume either. Instead you elaborate on and contextualize your resume highlights and tell the stories that are not on your resume. Even a well-formulated list is not a substitute for a good story or anecdote.
That said, a well-placed and relevant list can be a smart addition to your LinkedIn About to highlight skills and/or accomplishments and also to create scannability (more on that below).
Here are directions for inserting bullet points to your LinkedIn profile.
You can also copy and paste emojis from Emojipedia instead, which also adds a pop of color, but don’t go overboard and just use one style of emoji for bullets. I use this arrow ➡️ in place of bullets on my own profile. It’s simple and adds a pop of color too.
5. Go the 2600-character limit distance, but make it scannable
Don’t skimp on detail for fear of being too long. That won’t happen. LinkedIn knows what it’s doing with a 2600 character limit that translates to anywhere between 350-600 words depending upon spaces. This provides both a reasonable length and common sense limit. If you write 150 words, even if they’re good ones, it will look and feel too short and like you just got started and then you stopped because that’s what you did! You will see this for yourself when you do #1 and read several LinkedIn Abouts.
Your About, or bio for any purpose, like an online portfolio or blog, should never be just one long paragraph. To make your About easy to read and scannable:
- Break the text up into short paragraphs as much as possible. I tell my students that each paragraph should have one idea. As soon as you write: “I am also known for…” “In addition to …. ” or “After my position with… ” you have started a new idea and a new paragraph.
- Use a list to deliver information that doesn’t need narrative. You can highlight Accomplishments, What I’m Most Proud Of, Career Highlights, In My Free Time, or Hobbies I Love… to break it up and create scannability for screen reading.
- Use subheads in between paragraphs to create scannability. Here is my post on the benefits of subheads in blog posts, but the principles are true for all online text.
- Include a super short, one-sentence paragraph. You can create scannability and add emphasis or a little drama , like: And then I attended Hans Rosling’s Ted Talk about the power of data visualizations and I knew I had found my calling.
The bottom line is your About can be on the longer side of the limit; you just don’t want it to seem long or be hard to read and digest.
6. Use keywords organically, but don’t overdo it
As I mentioned above, utilizing your 2600 characters gives you more opportunity to boost your LinkedIn profile’s SEO by having more keywords.
You certainly don’t want to go overboard and attempt to keyword stuff or add in lists of keywords, especially if it’s just repeating what’s already in your Experience section. Too much industry jargon = trying too hard. Be natural and simply use the keywords that you know are relevant and that you’re seeing in jobs that you’re applying to that best reflect your skills and experience.
7. Include a range of detail from a range of experiences
Highlight professional experience and values from a variety of sources with concrete examples/anecdotes/stories.
This is key for those who don’t yet have a lot of professional work experience. Don’t simply rely on your most relevant current job or internship as your only talking point. Elaborate on professional work you performed for extracurricular activities/clubs, functions and provide highlights. What did you enjoy about the work and/or what did you learn that was valuable? You can translate your work ethic and professional personality by sharing stories from summer and part-time jobs, class projects, extra-curricular activities and/or volunteer experiences that relate to professional skills. Here’s an example:
Even if you do have a lot of experience, you also want to show that you have diverse interests beyond just being an engineer, publicist or computer programming professional. After reviewing multiple profiles, individuals might blur together for recruiters. This is an opportunity to stand out with a memorable unique detail about yourself. For example: are you veteran, a first-generation college student, the oldest of five children, a triplet? Have you lived on an army base, in another country or do you speak two languages? How about an odd skill like juggling or a fun hobby like scuba diving?
Military experience or volunteer work provides you with an opportunity to discuss related skills, values and commitment to social causes that you might not have room for on your resume. A recruiter once told me that when her healthcare consulting company was hiring a recent graduate for an entry-level position, the choice came down to two excellent candidates who were equally matched. The job went to the one who didn’t just mention her volunteer work, but who elaborated on her experience at a senior citizen’s home and why it was meaningful to her.
8. Conclude with a call to action (CTA)
Though I see it a lot, I would not end an About with the last item in a list. You want to have an actual “goodbye” in your writing; you don’t want to just stop writing. (This is the social networking equivalent of the Irish Goodbye! ☘️)
So make room for a short final paragraph, and ask your reader to take an action. This is especially important if you’re actively seeking a job opportunity — invite them to view your portfolio, watch a video you have posted and/or reach out with questions. This is a good way to prompt action on the part of your reader and it helps you write a natural conclusion.
Adding a thank you is a nice touch at the end too.
9. Get some feedback before you publish
If writing your About and personal branding is just not your strong suit or it just feels too hard, which is understandable because it is hard, you can find people like me to help you. But chances are, if you follow the advice here in this post and read several profiles, your About will be in good shape.
Do get some feedback. Reach out to at least two family members, friends or colleagues who you know to be strong writers and ask for feedback, and listen with an open mind.
This may sound really obvious, but use your grammar and spell checker. I recommend either typing in Word or Google and then copying into LinkedIn. If you type directly into LinkedIn, be sure to copy and paste it into a Word or Google Doc, so it will be easier to read on the screen and print it out. Proofing a print copy and then reading aloud are two of the best ways to catch mistakes and improve the flow of your narrative.
I hope these tips help you write a LinkedIn About that truly showcases your professional talents, potential and personality. It is challenging to write a good About, but you will feel awesome once you do. Please let me know if I missed any key tips that helped you, and if you need some professional advice, message me on LinkedIn. I’m always happy to help!
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