I spend a lot of time writing and speaking about how new technology reshapes job functions and industries. Specifically, I focus on automation tools, how they alter traditional roles, and how employees can adapt. So I’m always on the look out for new features and tools that automate something a human normally does.
This week, I noticed that LinkedIn offers a new feature: LinkedIn will write your summary for you.
My wife was on LinkedIn the other day, a place she rarely visits. She works in healthcare, isn’t job searching, and has zero reason to update her profile. As such, her profile is a barren place. But she checked in and saw this in place of her empty summary:
When she clicked to expand, she saw this:
Her first reaction was surprise followed by laughter. Though she doesn’t like writing a summary, she told me she’d never write something like that. It’s not her style.
The summary is slightly inaccurate and reads like an outdated objective statement from a resume in the 90’s. It sounds like a corporate website devoid of personality.
But that’s probably the point. A lot of professionally written LinkedIn profiles read like corporate websites. I used to work for an outplacement company that has an entire team dedicated to writing resumes (those resumes which always included an outdated objective statement, much to my disappointment (side note: objective statements are a polarizing topic in resume writing circles. I land firmly on the side of hating them with a passion)). No matter how the resume was written before the review process, they all sounded like the statement above after the resume team worked on it. Standardization is easier than personalization.
Corporate speak written by humans is very popular on LinkedIn and within the resume/LinkedIn writing community. Since this feature was likely trained on data from LinkedIn profiles, it’s not surprising to see this type of summary.
That’s not a bad thing either. Style aside, this feature is actually really helpful. If you can’t afford a professional LinkedIn writer to redo your profile, you’re in a rush, or you’re just not one for words, LinkedIn’s automated summary will most definitely do the trick for you. At the very least, it’ll get you started on writing a summary.
Writing LinkedIn summaries is hard. Writing them with flair and personality is harder. It takes practice and skill for a human to do it well. It’s impressive to see this coming from a machine yet still a good reminder machines still generally suck at creative flair and personality.
I’ve got a sweet spot for automation tools that are creeping into my former industry: career coaching. In my talks, I tell a story about how a machine came for my job when I was a global career coach at Yale School of Management. I use it to show audiences how automation tools aren’t limited to warehouses and accountants, and that we all need to adapt, even career coaches.
Career coaches do many things. They give direction. They review resumes, write cover letters and LinkedIn profiles. They listen to your stories and give you feedback. Career coaching at its heart is a people profession. It’s about relationships and communication.
But that doesn’t mean it’s immune to new technology. I wrote before about how machine learning and artificial intelligence are changing career coaching. From resumes built by AI, to resumes reviewed by machine learning, to chatbots that coach you, to an automated summary for LinkedIn, automation tools that do the work that career coaches do are growing.
They might not be that great right now. But these machines will learn how to get better. They’ve got plenty of humans to teach them.