Writing a LinkedIn Summary

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Joining LinkedIn, I wanted to do it right. I spent hours filling in all my jobs and volunteer positions, figuring out what industry to place myself in, and, most importantly, writing a headline and summary statement. (Side note: I have a bone to pick with LinkedIn for not offering public health as an industry. I even sent them an email about it, but for now I am stuck with International Affairs).

The headline has changed from Mass Gatherings Intern at the World Health Organization, to Program Assistant to the Global Medicines Program, to Emerging Professional Seeking Challenges and Opportunities in Public Health. The last one took a while to come up with, and – frankly – I’m not sure how much I like it. The difficulty is that I am looking for jobs with all sorts of different responsibilities in all sorts of different areas of public health. I am not singularly a project manager or research assistant or event organizer or advocate or tutor/trainer – I would be happy doing work in all of these areas. Thus, I have felt forced to have a rather vague headline. This also means that I have struggled with my summary.

I’ve read that LinkedIn summaries are supposed to make you stand out, show what you are looking for on LinkedIn, and highlight your accomplishments. I’ve had some trouble with this, since I want my summary to be apply to all sorts of different types of jobs. I have a whole bunch of different skills, but not a ton of focused experience in any one area. Thus, I present to you the iterations I have gone through with my summary:

Version 1: “Recent Reed College graduate (Spring 2013) with a B.A. in International and Comparative Policy Studies starting a career in public health. I have just concluded working with the Global Medicines Program in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington on mass gatherings public health projects related to low-resource settings; trainings, tools, and resources development; and collaboration with WHO.

As a public policy research assistant, literature reviewer, health policy contributor, thesis writer, event organizer, tutor, editor, fundraiser, volunteer recruiter, and student, I have developed an interest in public health work in a variety of capacities – direct service (advocacy, education and training, health service provision), research, policy work, and community and/or event organization.

Highlights:
• Event organization – Lead organizer for sexual health lecture event with 500+ audience at Reed College
• Training – Completed Basic Advocacy Training for sexual assault and domestic violence crisis line, Spring 2013
• Research assistant work – U.S. critical infrastructure media articles coding
• Literature review topics:
– Public Response to Disaster
– Mass Gatherings Legacy [in progress]
• Tutoring – Group writing tutoring of students from varying backgrounds, including non-traditional students, English-language learners, students with learning difficulties, and traditional students
• Favorite paper title – The Zombie Apocalypse as Public Health Metaphor in 21st Century America Disaster Planning

My particular topical interests include mass gatherings, disaster preparedness and response, public health in combat zones, CBRN public health concerns, antimicrobial resistance, sexual and reproductive health, sexual assault and domestic violence, houselessness, social determinants of health, health systems, and medical anthropology. Of course, this list has a tendency to grow frequently.”

Super long, eh? I agree. I included the first paragraph to show my current state of affairs and education. The second paragraph is to show what kinds of jobs I am interested in. The third is to highlight accomplishments / show some personality. It’s odd that I kept it this way for so long, since I think the “Highlights” section mixes up too many different types of highlights. As much as I loved writing about the zombie apocalypse as a public health metaphor, it doesn’t really belong in my elevator pitch. The last paragraph, of course, is meant to highlight all the different topics I enjoy so that recruiters know I am interested in working in many areas of public health.

A few days ago, I decided to change my summary – finally. Thus, I wrote the following version.

Version 2.0: Driven public health professional seeking position with responsibilities in any of the following areas: – direct service (advocacy, education and training, health service provision), project management/assistance, research, policy work, and community and/or event organization.

 Skill Highlights:

• Advanced with the following programs: Microsoft Office Suite and EndNote
• Proficient with the following programs: WordPress and Pixlr online image editor
• Web design – Transferred website from one server to another and developed my own blog 

• Event organization – Organized and executed sexual health lecture event with 500+ audience
• Balancing multiple projects concurrently – Managed or assisted with several projects at once with duties including developing project timelines and work plans; organizing meetings and collaborations; writing, reviewing, and editing documents such as proposals, minutes, reports, and promotional materials; recording progress and laying out project steps to ensure project continuity; and navigating between long-term and immediate operational perspectives

• Qualitative research – Conducted thematic analysis of policy documents for undergraduate thesis; developed and/or executed search strategies for peer-reviewed articles, policy documents, newspaper articles, and polls for various projects; organized and coded research in spreadsheets
• Literature reviews – Conducted 4 literature reviews, improving skills with each one

• Customer service – Balanced the needs of customers and the public with the priorities of organizations while holding such positions as restaurant hostess, animal shelter volunteer, and event organizer
• Tutoring and education – Developed lesson plans and taught Nepali students ages 4-12 in classes of 10-30 students in low resource settings, and tutored individuals and groups ages 16-40 from a variety of backgrounds (including English-language learners, students with learning difficulties, and students experiencing other mental health problems)
• Dog care and training – Volunteered in Los Angeles county animal shelter for three years and spent a week volunteering at an animal shelter in Kathmandu, Nepal 

Every position I have held has required learning new skills, such as learning WordPress. I am starting my career, and I am eager and enthusiastic to take on positions where I can develop new skills to perform job duties beyond expectations.”

Super long, again. This time, it was so long that it exceeded the summary section character count. I added project management / assistance to the types of jobs I am seeking, since I developed skills in this area in my last job. I like the skill-focused section much better than the highlights in Version 1.0. By using a skills section, I was also able to eliminate the first half of paragraph 2 in Version 1.0 (“as a public policy research assistant…”). I added the comment on eagerness to learn new skills because I see this as a skill in itself. I would have preferred to keep the section on all the topics of public health I like, but I already knew I was over character count.

Version 3.0: “Recent Reed College graduate with a B.A. in International and Comparative Policy Studies seeking a public health or healthcare position with responsibilities in any of the following areas: direct service (advocacy, education and training, health service provision), project management/assistance, research, policy work, and community and/or event organization. 

See my blog here: https://onehundredresumes.wordpress.com/ 

Skill Highlights:

• Advanced with Microsoft Office Suite and EndNote
• Proficient with WordPress and Pixlr online image editor
• Web design: Transferred website from one server to another and developed my own blog

• Event organization: Organized and executed sexual health lecture event with 500+ audience
• Balancing multiple projects: Concurrently managed 2 long term projects requiring extensive collaborations, developed 3+ long-term project concepts, assisted with 2 short term projects, and provided ad-hoc assistance with multiple other projects as-needed 

• Qualitative research: Conducted thematic analysis of policy documents for undergraduate thesis; developed and/or executed search strategies for peer-reviewed articles, policy documents, newspaper articles, and polls for various projects; organized and coded research data in spreadsheets
• Literature reviews: Conducted 4 literature reviews, improving skills with each one

• Customer service: Balanced the needs of customers and the public with the priorities of organizations, answered phones and greeted guests, and scheduled reservations and appointments 
• Tutoring and education: Developed lesson plans and taught Nepali students ages 4-12, and tutored individuals and groups ages 16-40 from a variety of backgrounds

Every position I have held has required learning new skills, such as learning WordPress. I am eager and enthusiastic to take on positions where I can develop new skills and build upon existing ones.”

I cut down the details in the skills section out of character count necessity. Still, I used the skills section to demonstrate my wide variety of skills and experiences using measurable outcomes wherever possible (see the “Balancing Multiple Projects” skill, which I was loath to change from Version 2.0). Alas, I deleted my dog care and training skill because it doesn’t have much impact on a public health career. I added my college degree back in, and I included a link to my blog. Again, I’m bummed to not include the public health topics paragraph, but there is a good reason for the character limit in the summary section. It is supposed to be brief, not a novel, to hook people into looking at the rest of one’s profile. In addition, hopefully going to my blog will give the folks in the LinkedIn universe a more complete image of who I am.

I am hesitant to write a lessons learned section here, since I am not an expert in the wonders of LinkedIn. Still, here is my attempt:

  • As every single other website on the subject also suggests, don’t leave the summary section blank. It is better to write something (with proper grammar) and add to it later than to leave the summary blank.
  • Show yourself as an individual. For me, I would like to think I did this with including a link to my blog and clearly stating my interest in skills building.
  • Show what you want out of LinkedIn. (For me: JOBS).
  • Highlight accomplishments: If you want a particular type of job, show examples of of what awesome things you have accomplished in that type of position before. Show how you will contribute to your next company/organization. If you are like me and just want any type of job in a field you are exploring, show your wide array of skills. Do so in a way that flows, however, such that every sentence, every bullet point, (a) belongs in its paragraph or bullet point group and (b) uses outcome-and-measurability-oriented language.
  • Keep it short(er), if possible. I think a summary half the length of mine would be ideal. However, I also don’t think it would help me to have a shorter summary that showed fewer of my skills – I may be wrong.
  • Revise. Revise overall content; revise for grammar. I found a stylistic discontinuity in my latest summary version when I copied it into this blog post (short-term and long term, gasp). I am going back to fix it again, after already spending hours on it just a few days ago.

On a final note, don’t forget to include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resumes, emails, etc. when applying for jobs!

Update: LinkedIn summary as of February 5, 2015. I’ve developed more skills and accomplishments, time to reflect them!

Research study assistant in General Internal Medicine working on NIH grants examining variation in physician diagnostic accuracy and on a foundation-funded study of patient access to their doctors’ notes in their electronic medical records. With a B.A. in International and Comparative Policy Studies and recent experience at the World Health Organization and the University of Washington (UW) Department of Global Health, I enjoy public health and health care research and practice.

See my blog here: https://onehundredresumes.wordpress.com/

Skill Highlights:
• Writing: Draft and edit manuscripts, grants, and IRB and NIH forms, including first authorship on an in press peer-reviewed publication:
Fuller MS, Lee CI, Elmore JG. Breast Cancer Screening: An Evidence-Based Update. Medical Clinics of North America. In press.

• Quantitative research: Input raw SAS output into tables for manuscripts; recruit study participants by phone; track study participation; administer surveys in person to patients; currently taking graduate-level biostatistics courses at UW
• Literature reviews: Conducted lit reviews concerning antibiotic resistance, mass gatherings, and variability in pathologist interpretations, with a review of breast cancer screening in press for publication
• Qualitative research: Conducted thematic analysis of policy documents for undergraduate thesis; developed and/or executed search strategies for peer-reviewed articles, policy documents, newspaper articles, and polls for various projects; organized and coded research data

• Project coordination: Organized the UW Dept. of Global Health’s application to become a WHO Collaborating Centre on Mass Gatherings Public Health, which was recently granted
• Event organization: Organized and executed sexual health lecture event with 500+ audience
• Tutoring and education: Developed lesson plans and taught Nepali students ages 4-12, and tutored individuals and groups ages 16-40 from a variety of backgrounds in the US

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