Congratulations! Your LinkedIn SUMMARY is now a HEADLINE (and it looks like dog shit).

That’s just awesome. LinkedIn decided to overhaul everything about the old desktop user interface including your summary, which has now become a 2nd headline. You’re gonna need a bigger boat….because your summary has jumped the shark. Am I being melodramatic? I don’t think so. The fact is that with this major change in the way LinkedIn presents your professional story, only a small proportion of readers will click on ‘See more’…..

But how many will read your summary – if it is NOT a headline at all, or merely a snippet of hidden body text? I have no idea. But my guess is that it’s less than 20%. Bummer.

David Ogilvy is my hero, he is the father of modern day advertising, so far ahead of his time. “I wish I had known him 40 years ago. I like him enormously now”.

Take a look at some big hitter summaries to see exactly what I mean:

Your first priority now that LinkedIn have changed the entire game? You need to transform the first two lines of your summary into an actual headline, which stands alone and does a great job of encouraging your readers to click ‘See more’. My research shows that you’ve got between 200-245 characters/25-42 words to do that. LinkedIn doesn’t let you add additional white space between text. I’ve used periods… separators, which works really well with my name & (first) headline. I had to fart around a lot to get this right. I may change it again in a few days. You’ve got to be agile and responsive on LinkedIn.

Here’s some solid advice related to headline theory.

My thanks to Ed Fry @distilled
Kelly Smith @CoSchedule Blog
and Adam Mordecai @Upworthy

(See) more… tips:

(1) Spend 50% of your time thinking about your headline, 50% writing your body text. Look at magazines, newspapers for headline inspiration/ideas.
(2) Practice. Write 20 potential headlines, choose the 5 you like best, narrow the field down by getting 2nd, 3rd and 4th opinions.*
(3) Audit. Are you delivering value? What’s in it for the reader? Would you click?
(4) Unusual adjectives are your friends. Don’t use boring words.
(5) Learn about trigger/action words.

*ask me

By Andy Foote




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15 Responses

  1. Victoria Ipri says:

    Andy, you’ve stated many points I agree with, but several I don’t:

    1. It’s definitely vital to remain agile on LinkedIn. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing.
    2. I don’t think it looks like dogshit. Personally, I strongly dislike the use of curse words in public writing, but that’s just me:) What I most object to about the first few summary sentences is that the spacing is messed up. There is one spot where the period from one sentence runs smack into the first letter of the next sentence, and it can’t be corrected. Just stupid programming.
    3. I doubt many profile viewers read entire summaries to begin with. This change merely exacerbates an existing issue, which is that we try too hard to tell our life stories via our 2000 character summaries. By definition, the summary is a brief statement of main points. So maybe LI should work on truncating this section too. But tell that to someone with 40 years’ experience.:)
    4. If I had to write 30 headline versions and pick 5, I would find the nearest fork and stick it in my eye. Don’t look at magazines and newspapers. Look at clickbait headlines. They really work.
    5. On a personal note, the dots before and after your name make it tough to tag you in a status update…is this purposeful?

  2. Susie Sharp says:

    Hy Andy – my thoughts. First off, I love your stuff. Secondly, perhaps consider ‘poo’ with a giant poo emoji or something else besides “dog shit”. In my (limited) experience people are not necessarily prone to sharing documents with curse words in the title and the poo emoji might elicit a smile or two.. Third – brilliant idea for dots to separate the beginning of the second paragraph in the new intro. Yes, that IS crappy programming. Fourth, I am beginning to be convinced that few will go much beyond the intro (summary) and that John Nemo’s “chunked profile summary” might be a very useful template for most. Fifth, I’m also thinking these days that one’s most important rich media needs to be attached to that intro (summary) in order to be easily discoverable. Just my thoughts. Rock on, dude. .

    • Andy Foote says:

      Thanks as always Susie. I don’t regard ‘dog shit’ as a curse (I grew up listening to Billy Connolly, he has some wonderful & hilarious bits about cursing) ‘crap’ sounded boring, ‘terrible’ equally so. I’ve detected a gradual slide towards everyday, authentic language on the web. I think that’s a good thing. Some stuff just shouldn’t be sugar coated. I too am a fan of rich media, I’d be a bigger fan if LinkedIn took readers straight to the source without an extra click (on “see source”).

      • Susie Sharp says:

        I put out a poo article of my own yesterday, tagged, referred to you, linked to your article and used a screen capture of your profile. I found magic Unicorn poo for a graphic. 🙂 PS Loved Billy Connolly.

  3. Wil says:

    Having had a look at the “headline” across a couple of apple devices, due to screen size there are different numbers of characters shown (Mac 233, iPad Air 151, iPhone 7Plus 111), however, to try and create a headline with say 111 characters, simply doesn’t work as Linkedin simple scoops up the x many characters to fill the space up to 233 (in the case of the Mac), so probably best to work on the largest summary and keep everything pithy!

    • Andy Foote says:

      Pithy and witty is good Wil (I like that you have dispensed with the non-essential ‘l’ in your name btw, great editing Sir).

    • Victoria Ipri says:

      Andy, I’m testing your theory on my own profile. I’ve just changed my headline and summary. Both are much shorter and more direct. Keywords are more upfront. Interested to see how profile views, etc. may be affected. Will keep you posted!

  4. Ben says:

    Enjoyable, thought provoking, just what I expect bro’

  5. Mark Stonham says:

    The reduced visibility of the Summary is a real retrograde step Andy. LinkedIn logic to display the 1st Experience section in full, while the Summary and additional experience sections need the Read more.. to be clicked is hard to understand. A real drag for quickly scanning. Interestingly I’m using Sales Navigator and the profiles are being displayed in the Old layout there still. Such a refreshing change 🙂

    • Andy Foote says:

      There’s ‘logic’ Mark? Methinks you give credit where it is not due or warranted. Not good enough reason for me to plunk down $$$ for SN!

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