Crafting your LinkedIn Summary

by Bradley Woodruff, Head Editor, INALJ Wisconsin

Crafting your LinkedIn Summary

bradleywoodruffIf you’re a LinkedIn user, you may have pondered over the summary portion of your profile. What IS the LinkedIn summary for? Your profile already summarizes your work history, education, experience, volunteer work, and every accomplishment you’ve made. The Summary? That’s what grabs whoever is visiting your page. It is, essentially, your elevator speech.


No, but really. That’s what it is. Consider it a summary of who you are and what you do, which will help the person visiting your page understand what you have to offer.

I struggled with this section on my own page until recently, when I had a conversation with Joshua Waldman from Joshua is a marketing consultant who specializes in job searching with social media. He breaks the summary into the following four questions:

Who are you?

What do you do?

Why are you the best?

What do you want?

The first two are simple to answer. I am so-and-so. I am a librarian. Maybe using computers sometimes. Or… something about books? The second two take more consideration, but these two are the most important pieces.

Why are you the best?

Think of a time you solved a problem. Think of an example that sets you apart or shows what you can do. This exercise is doubly good because you can use these same examples in an interview. Once you have a situation, try to describe it in just a sentence or two. We don’t need to know all the details; just give enough information to make us want the rest of the details.

What do you want?

A job, perhaps? What kind of job? What do you want to do? Who do you want to know? This is where you come out and ask for the thing you’re looking for right now, because nobody is going to know what you want if you don’t come out and say what it is. Be as specific or as vague as you’re comfortable being, but tell the reader what you’re looking for.

After I went through this process with my own summary, I went from this:

Librarian specializing in information management, digital publishing, and digital repositories.


To this:

Librarian specializing in information management, digital publishing, and digital repositories. I like to use technology to solve problems. When my library school needed a way for students to gain digital repository experience, I installed and configured an instance of DSpace that eventually housed the school’s online archives. I’m interested in networking with other information professionals who enjoy constructing and deconstructing tech.
It’s not perfect yet, but it says a lot more about me than what I started with. Also, as I gain more experiences and change what I’m looking for, it will evolve.
On a final and related note, our library purchased Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies, written by Joshua Waldman, and it has been pretty popular among our patrons (but I work in a career services library, so it kind of makes sense that it would be). If you’re in on the job market, I would recommend finding it at a library near you. He does a nice job of laying out social media strategies and suggesting tactics and resources that you may not have considered.


Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ has had over 19.5 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 & 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro. She presents whenever she can, most recently thrice at the American Library Association's Annual Conference as well as breakout talk presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa and as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting, at the National Press Club, McGill University, the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has relocated to being nomadic. She runs her husband’s moving labor website,, fixes and sells old houses and assists her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food as well. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 


  4 comments for “Crafting your LinkedIn Summary

  1. Sara
    February 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Thanks for this! I pulled my summary off my linked in when I went to a workshop and they said not to say you are looking for a current position. Do you have any input on this? I AM looking for an MLS job after having my degree for 4 years and have clerk experience for 8 years (plus part-time experience as a sub and Sunday reference and children’s librarian).

    I just updated my summary as: Librarian specializing in young adult literature and programming. Experience in all departments of public libraries. When I started my position at the branch, the young adult collection needed to be weeded and revamped. Since I am aware of and read the current bestsellers and award winners, I purchased additional titles. I am interested in networking with other librarian professionals from all different aspects of librarianship.


    • February 12, 2014 at 6:22 pm

      In the headline, you’re right don’t say you’re looking b/c that’s an area that is focused on what you can do for your audience. But at the end of the summary, stating your intentions actually makes it easier for companies to know how to approach you. As long as you aren’t leading with it, and being clear on how you can add value to your audience, I think this approach will work for you.

    • February 17, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      I’m going to defer to what Joshua said; I think it’s good to state somewhere near the end that you are currently looking. How else are you supposed to indicate that you are on the market? But I wouldn’t lead with it.

      I like that your summary includes the story about how you were able to pull on your experience/knowledge to purchase titles for your library.

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