Browse your connections’ LinkedIn profiles and you’ll most likely see that some tell their professional story in the first person and some in the third person. Which is ideal? There’s no right or wrong answer. In fact, many experts’ recommendations don’t lean one way or the other. They’re split.
Support for Third Person
Those supporting third person say that a resume is written in third person. Since LinkedIn represents a person’s resume, the profile should also be in third person. It also helps prevent sounding egotistical as it’s challenging to limit the use of “I” in a first person narrative about you.
Support for First Person
Experts who recommend taking the first person approach believe it sounds more personal while third person comes across as distant, fake and like someone else wrote it. It’s harder to relate to someone who doesn’t directly speak to you. When you’re in Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms, you speak in the first person. And LinkedIn is a social network. When you meet people at a networking event, you talk in the first person.
Besides, most of us write our own profile, and it feels unnatural to write about ourselves in third person. As a result, the narrative may not read smoothly. Even if you have help writing your profile, it’s still yours. To minimize the use of “I,” focus on showing how the reader will benefit from working with you or contacting you.
If you’re struggling to pick one, try first person. Whichever you choose, use that for your entire summary. One profile I looked at had a summary that started in third person and ended in first person … not a good impression.
Here are some examples of first and third person (identifying information changed):
“Jim Smith consults on customer acquisition and retention for B2B and B2C clients. He has held senior positions at Google, Microsoft and an Internet startup company. Jim teaches graduate students and is chairperson at AMA. He serves as a mentor at SBA.”
“SVP responsible for overall satisfaction for high profile client relationships within the healthcare, publishing and nonprofit sectors. Managing a team of more than seven. Volume has increased to more than 33% in annual margin in one year. Experience within each market sector has enabled ability to find success within secondary and tertiary market categories, increasing the bottom line of client portfolios.”
“IT Executive who is innovative, results-driven, and an accomplished professional skilled at directing high performance teams, cutting organizational costs and driving business growth through the management of technology.”
“Gained his expertise in technology architecture and integration, relationship and staff management, budget development, vendor/contract negotiations and formulating financial/strategic plans during in several leadership roles. Her aggressive, bottom-line approach consistently produced quick yet long-term results in every position she has held. She is a tenacious and flexible professional that leads by example, has excellent communication skills, and is decisive and results-oriented.”
“I have spent more than 15 years helping small businesses with marketing and public relations. I’ve worked with dozens of startups and small companies — I love the energy entrepreneurs have and I get a thrill from helping businesses grow. I have developed a process for doing prospecting and lead nurturing that is ideal for technology entrepreneurs, especially those who are entering new markets or launching new products.”
“Unique blend of financial and information technology experience. Began career with KPMG in the Los Angeles office, earned my CPA and then transitioned into Information Technology over the next several career moves. I possess strong communication skills, a solid financial background and deep IT experience.”
“With more than 20 years of developing deliverable products, building effective engineering teams and managing operations, I have changed IT operational cost-centers to developing IT value centers. IT value centers focus on creating extended service or product lines for better customer satisfaction and increased offerings to add to the bottom-line. By developing and implementing results-oriented disciplines, I have helped many technology executives make faster and more accurate decisions.”
A Couple More Things to Consider
Many people write the summary in the first person and the experience section in the third person because it’s like a resume. That’s what we usually do. The most important thing is to describe the work you’ve done, your accomplishments and using one voice for the summary in your LinkedIn Profile.
You can always write two versions of your summary and see which one appears more powerful, natural and personal.
Is your LinkedIn Summary in the first or third person? How did you arrive at that decision? Should people use the same point of view in the summary and the experience sections? Does it matter?