by Muse contributor Aja Frost
The Mission-Based Summary
The mission-based summary opens with a broad description of what you do – what your mission is - then gets more and more specific. This is a great choice if you’re casting a wide net in your job search . After all, someone who’s unfamiliar with the field is probably hazy on what “content strategy” means—but everyone understands “telling stories for brands.”
It also shows that you get the bigger picture. You understand why your job encompasses more than your daily to-do list. You want to have real impact, make a difference. And as you can see from the example, you don’t have to be “increasing literacy rates in third-world countries” or “building prosthetics with near-natural motor capability” to be contributing something valuable to the world.
“Every brand has stories to tell—stories that will not only engage, inform, surprise, delight, and impact their audience, but that will also deliver on measurable business goals. I am the conduit between brand and consumer. I help clients find the subject and medium that best fits their unique identity, and then I produce high-quality content that meets their objectives.
Currently, I am a content strategist at Alliance Media, where I’ve collaborated with companies such as Tiffany & Co., Burger King, and Netflix. My specialties include digital media, consumer behavior, brand awareness, and omni-channel marketing campaigns.”
The Personality Summary
If you’re really looking to hook people, begin with a memorable anecdote that demonstrates one or two key personality traits – and then show how you apply those same traits in your job or career.
Because this type of summary focuses more on personality than on hard skills, it’s ideal for two types of people: the networkers and the less-experienced. If you’re using LinkedIn primarily to meet new people, rather than get a job, this type of summary is great because it makes you seem like an interesting person to know. As a result, you’ll likely see an increase in the number of connections you make, as well as the number of people who accept your coffee invites.
It’s also great if you’re still a student or relatively new to the professional world. Since you won’t have a lot of work experience to include in your summary, you can flesh it out by writing about character traits to help people learn more about you.
“When I was 21, I climbed Mount Everest. Not metaphorically—I literally climbed the highest mountain on Earth. While I was hiking, I thought about quitting approximately 5,000 times. (And that’s a lowball estimate.)
But despite the high winds, low altitude, mental and physical fatigue, and trail mix overdose, I kept going. I’m that person. Once I say I’ll do something, it will happen.
Now, I put that perseverance to work as a senior account manager for Polar. I don’t have to climb any mountains…but I do have to move them. I’m well-versed in negotiations, planning and development, relationship management, operations, and logistics coordination and scheduling. If you’re interested in grabbing coffee and talking shop (or to hear how I almost fell off the mountain at 27K feet), please send an email my way.”
The Short and Sweet Summary
The short and sweet summary is a smart choice for professionals in more conservative, traditional, or technical industries. For example, if you’re a lawyer, you want to make it easy for employers to get the key facts: how long you’ve been practicing law, what your qualifications are, and the type of work you specialize in without the distraction of anecdotes or stories. (Plus, getting too creative might undermine your credibility.)
This approach is also a good one for active job hunters. Why? It allows you to get a lot of keywords in, which will help advance you in the search results when a recruiter looks for someone who fits your profile.
Whatever the case, a short and sweet summary should include your current role, previous positions (if they’re relevant or notable), and your more relevant skills.
“I have over 15 years of experience working in data science. Currently, I work as Asana’s Senior Data Manager, improving products and services for our customers by using advanced analytics, standing up big-data analytical tools, creating and maintaining models, and onboarding compelling new data sets.
Previously, I was the Chief Data Scientist at Guru, where I analyzed data from some of the biggest enterprises and networks in the world to educate the market on long-term internet trends. Competencies: data science, machine learning, cloud computing, Hadoop, Raython/Java/R, network protocols.”
The Blended Summary
As the name suggests, this summary is a blend between the short and sweet and the personality versions. It’s perfect if you want to get straight to the facts, but you also want some levity in your description. I’d suggest it for professionals in more creative industries and people whose work involves lots of other people (think sales reps, managers, or HR specialists).
To make this work, begin with a one-line description of your current job and a couple work accomplishments or highlights, then add some “fun facts.” However, make sure they’re not too fun; “I love karaoke (ask me about my Mariah Carey cover)” is probably fine. “My personal motto is ‘It’s 5 PM somewhere!’” is almost certainly not. When in doubt, leave it out.
If you need more help nailing the perfect tone for this one, just imagine you’re talking to someone you just met at an industry event. Keep it light, fun, but also professional.
“I’m a talent acquisition specialist with an interest in building the most effective workforces possible. For over 20 years, I’ve been helping businesses find their perfect hires. I also do consulting on compensation and benefits, new hire processes, and company culture.
When I’m not on the job, I love hiking with my dog, working my way through every recipe in the family cookbook, and indulging my love for seeing new places. If you’d like to learn more about how my services can help your company, please reach out via email ([email protected]).”
The Accomplishments Summary
I love the accomplishments summary for those who are actively seeking work—either a full-time position or freelance gigs. It tells potential employers or clients exactly why you deserve the job, as well as the (high) caliber of work they can expect from you.
And by the way, you don’t have to limit yourself to awards, speaking engagements, or positive press. Something like “I planned and implemented a new social media strategy that tripled our online engagement in six months” works too.
“I’m a freelance multi-disciplinary graphic designer who’s delivered creative and engaging solutions across brand identity, print, packaging, and digital media. In 2013, my online brand campaign for the Dorsey Children’s Hospital won a GDUSA award, one of the most prestigious honors in the graphic design industry.
My work has also been featured in Creatique Bloq, Compound Magazine, and on the Creative Review blog. Skills: logo design, web design, branding and identity, typography, UI design, packaging, CSS, HTML, InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator. If you have a project I can help with, please get in touch.”
As you’re drafting your summary from these examples, pay attention to the words you use. If you’re pursing a specific position, look at the job description for words and phrases that tie directly to the role—those are terms a recruiter might search. Again, you can also look at the profiles of professionals who are in your ideal role to get an idea of the language they use.
And remember, the path to an awesome summary often includes iteration—so start writing now, and don’t be afraid to edit later.