While each section of your LinkedIn profile or CV is important, the summary section is where you get to sell yourself and showcase your value to the employers that you are targeting in your professional journey.
Think of it as a mini cover letter that highlights what you can offer to your target employers as a lawyer or legal counsel.
1. Write for your reader
There are two categories of people who will be reading your CV or LinkedIn profile for hiring purposes:
– Lawyers (hiring managers and future colleagues)
– Non-lawyers (e.g. external or internal recruiter, HR, CEO’s personal assistant if it’s a start-up that is hiring).
Non lawyers are likely to be the first readers of this information. They decide whether they should pass your profile on to the decision maker.
It’s important to make sure that the language you use can be easily understood by non-lawyers, and that it contains the key words that they can match with the brief they have received from the legal team.
Quick example. Your target employers may require someone with experience in: drafting Master Service Agreements, or negotiating high value deals with Enterprise level customers, or supporting a particular geographic region – all of this can be included into your summary.
What hiring managers are keen to know is what someone can do for their business, what they have done in the past that is relevant, and whether this person has the required qualifications.
2. Mind limited length
The summary section of your LinkedIn profile (or CV) should convey as much value as possible, given its limited length. Currently LInkedIn only allows to view about 56 words (or 360 character) of someone’s summary.
To read the rest, the busy viewer needs to click on “view more…” – it’s important that they get the motivation to do so after scanning the first few lines.
3. Make it bespoke
To make your summary bring you exactly the opportunities you are after, it’s a good idea to make it super bespoke to the type of companies and teams you are interested in working for.
Think about the summary section on your CV as an elevator pitch, and tailor it to each role.
4. Research how your target role is usually described
It’s essential to know what you’re interested in and how you can offer value to those type of businesses and legal teams.
So before writing your summary (and CV in general), it’s a good idea to do some research to understand your ideal roles and how the hiring teams describe them.
This information can be found by:
- scanning through job adverts
- reviewing LinkedIn profiles of legal team members of relevant employers
- speaking with the recruiter running the search for a specific role that has caught your eye (a recruiter will share not just what skills they look for, but also how you can best present relevant information in your CV based on your specific experience).
5. Write as your target employers write
When writing your CV summary, aim to use the same language used by the hiring legal teams to define their open position. Keep it short and sweet, limiting your statement to three or four lines. The statement should be fairly specific and true to your value as a lawyer with your specialism. Avoid generic statements and clichés.
6. Consider a cover letter (for an exceptional role)
Usually a short professional summary of 3-4 lines is more than enough.
But if there is a particular role you’re extremely keen on and you have a way of reaching the hiring manager, sometimes it may be a good idea to write a cover letter rather than just a CV summary.
A cover letter is a good way to grab attention, as so few people make the effort to pull one together. It also gives you enough space to explain your experience and motivation.
Caution: only do it for exceptional roles not to burn out, and only if you know exactly what the hiring team is looking for.
Showcase your value
In conclusion, your LinkedIn or CV summary is your first opportunity to showcase your value to your target employers.
Keep your summary clean, clear, and, above all, relevant to the roles that are attractive to you. If you don’t have clarity on what your value is to your future employer, your resume is not as powerful as it could be.
By tailoring your summary and highlighting your specific experience and skills, you should be able to be noticed for exactly the types of roles that make the best step in your career journey.