Bad Joke: So the third person walks into the first person who says, “I didn’t see the mirror either.”
When writing your LinkedIn summary should you write it in the first person or in the third person?
For those of you that need a quick refresher course on the difference between first person and third person:
First person is when I write “I’m the best ping-pong player in all of Buffalo.”
Third person is when I write “Adrian Dayton is the best ping-pong player in all of Buffalo.”
The real difference is one of tone. When we write about ourselves in third person, we are putting a journalistic tone to our writing. We are writing as a reporter, that sounds goods—right? Not really, if a reporter was saying it, it would be very good, they aren’t. You are just talking about yourself. If you are going to talk about yourself, when would you talk about yourself like a reporter does?
Beside the awkward feeling of reading someone’s summary that has been written in the third person, there is also a certain sense of detachment that comes from reading a bio that has been written in the third person. It begs the question, if this person has a summary that is written in third person, did they really write the bio? Are they approachable? Would they answer my call or email if I wanted to hire them?
When professionals create bios in the third person they are clearly focused on one thing, “will this bio make me appear credible?” When they should be thinking one step further, they should also be asking will this bio make me seem approachable? Will this bio make me seem likable?
Likability has been overlooked for far too long in our online profiles. Potential customers can find thousands of people just like you who can do the work, but who do they want to work with? The people they feel like they can connect with on a personal level. A bio written in the first person is more conversational and gives the writer the chance to inject some personality.
First person isn’t without its challenges, though, the writer must be careful when drafting a bio in the first person to avoid appearing too braggadocious. Rather than use I, I, I, frequently, I prefer lawyers that instead write their bios in a narrative format. Tell stories about work and cases you have worked on that illustrate your competence. “Show me, don’t tell me,” as my English teacher used to say.
In choosing first or third person, the first rule is to know your audience. Lawyers, for example, have a reputation as being somewhat serious and in some cases stuffy, so their audience doesn’t want to see that in their bios, as a general rule they should stick to writing bios for LinkedIn in the first person. On the other hand, I sell services to lawyers, and so in an effort to match their behavior I have written my bio in the third person. The important thing is to choose something your potential clients are comfortable with and that you are comfortable with too.
In conclusion, I just felt the need to share with you that I’m not even very good at ping-pong, regardless of what I said above. I should also mention, Adrian Dayton isn’t very good at ping-pong either.