Your LinkedIn headline is one of the most important parts of your profile, yet, you’ve left it up to LinkedIn. Today, go update your headline.
By default, LinkedIn uses your current job title as your headline. But that doesn’t mean you should use it!
Why You Should Fix Your LinkedIn Headline
Your headline is like a billboard. It makes the first impression. It helps determine how you show up in search results. Furthermore, your headline can determine whether someone clicks through to your profile. It’s marketing YOU. In other words, it is way too important to just let LinkedIn determine.
When anyone searches LinkedIn, the search results show this information: photo, name, headline, city, and shared connections.
When I searched for “project manager” and selected the option to search for “people” and this is what I found.
The results show people who have the title in their headline. But that’s all they have and as a result, they all look the same.
In reality, very few people make an effort to improve their LinkedIn headline. How do I know this? Because I got 8,020,027 results for project manager. This works to your advantage because you WILL have a meaningful, keyword-rich, headline!
Recruiters Search By Keywords
Recruiters use very specific keywords to search LinkedIn profiles – technology (software), processes and procedures. They search for specialties, not generic competencies. These are the words that should be in your headline (and summary and listed in your skills section).
Go ahead. Enter anything you want in the search box and see what you find. (I’ll wait here!)
Here’s another example of how people have missed a huge opportunity to set themselves apart. The headline doesn’t help differentiate these students…
They missed the opportunity to talk about the skills or experiences that make them unique. RIT has a great co-op program and almost every student will get hands-on work experience. But we don’t see anything in these headlines about their co-op experience.
Ask Yourself This
Does your headline share enough to make someone want to click-through?
You need to write your headline so that it differentiates you.
This can be done in many ways and there isn’t one formula that fits everyone.
2 Formulas for Your LinkedIn Headline
Jenny Foss wrote about what you can do to spice up your LinkedIn headline in this Muse post.
Foss suggests these (you really should go read her article to see examples!)
- Succinctly showcase your specialty, value proposition, or your “so what?”
- Speak directly to the audience you want to entice
- Worm in the important keywords
- Be creative
Laura Smith-Proulx wrote an article which is also filled with great ideas. Fast Formula for a Powerful LinkedIn Professional Headline appears on Job-Hunt.org. Here’s her formula:
- Add your target job or position level
- Add your primary industry or job function
- Pull in your strongest areas of expertise
- Add a signature achievement
To see examples, you’ll have to read the article!
By the way, if you don’t have a value proposition or need to refresh yours, please see this article.
Use the Full 220 Characters
As of April 2020, you have 220 characters to highlight what you do or what you want to be known for. Make each word count. And always think about the keywords/terms someone would use if they were looking to find someone just like you!
Words and Phrases To Eliminate
220 characters isn’t a lot – make every word count!
- There are mixed opinions about calling yourself a guru, expert, or rock star, so I wouldn’t recommend using them.
- The word “Professional” is 12 letters long and says absolutely nothing. Eliminate this word. No one is ever going to search for it either.
- Don’t include your school, degree or current employer. This isn’t an absolute rule, but a strong recommendation. This information is already in your profile.
- “Seeking next opportunity” takes up a lot of space and doesn’t describe what you do. Plus it sounds
kind ofdesperate, doesn’t it? Let me tell you a secret, when recruiters or hiring managers are checking out your profile, they really don’t care if you are available. They want to know if you have the right skills and background to do the job.
- If you want recruiters to know you are open to new opportunities, then change this setting in your LinkedIn profile. How LinkedIn’s Open Candidate Can Save You Time.
These Headlines Are Examples of What NOT To Do
None of these headlines are specific or unique to the individual.
Business Professional Experienced in Sales, Customer Relations, and Operations
MBA, Accounting Professional
Staff Assistant at ABC University
Executive Office Professional
Management professional seeking new opportunity
These Are Better
Here are some ideas for you, but let me emphasize, you have 220 characters to sell your first impression. These all have room to tell more!
Technical Illustrator and Web Designer (38 characters)
Left/Right Brained Marketing Enthusiast | Marketing Analyst | MS Marketing (84 characters)
Organizational Transformation Consultant, International Project Manager, Business Developer (91 characters)
Marketing: Global Product Development & Purchasing Specialist (61 characters)
Lean Mentor at Harness Consulting | Change the Behavior – Sustain the Gain (74 characters)
If you are an MBA candidate, check out this article: What’s the Best LinkedIn Headline for an MBA Candidate?
Here’s How To Edit Your Headline
You probably didn’t even know you could edit your headline. By default, LinkedIn uses your most recent job title and employer. I guess that’s better than nothing…maybe.
First, go to your profile page and look for the blue pen to edit.
Next, click on pen icon
Before you save your changes, do you want everyone you are connected to on LinkedIn to get notified of your changes? If you are actively job seeking/unemployed, then your answer is probably yes. If you are in a covert job search, the answer might be no.
You can change your privacy settings. LinkedIn offers this “help” article about how to Turn on/off your activity broadcasts.
Measure The Results
Now the fun begins. Over the next week, keep track of how many people view your profile. If the number is greater than before…take note, that’s a good thing! If not, give it another week, and if you still don’t notice an uptick in profile views, you will probably want to change it again. Be sure you get feedback from people you value and respect!
Not sure how to check how many people have viewed your profile and where they’re from?
From your LinkedIn homepage (main screen) on LinkedIn, this appears on the left side of your screen.
Or, when you are viewing your LinkedIn profile, this dashboard appears near the top.
Your headline alone isn’t enough to get people to look at your LinkedIn profile. Try some of these tricks!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.