The headline of a LinkedIn profile is your online calling card telling the world at least 3 things about you:
- Who You Are
- What You Have to Offer
- What You Are After
Along with your profile picture, your professional headline is the single most important part of the LinkedIn profile. It is your headline that shows up when your name is found in search engines searches. It is your headline that is in the most visible places on your profile and is showcased in all the actions you do on LinkedIn. And it is your headline that recruiters and others who you would like to influence often remember most from your profile.
Crafting a clear, concise and correct professional headline is vital to the overall success of your efforts on LinkedIn. It is no easy feat particularly when you have only 120 characters to do it in.
Kristin Johnson, CEO of the career and headhunting firm Profession Direction has explored the challenges and opportunities of producing a quality LinkedIn headline. She offers these tips to help you build a headline designed to get you noticed in searchers and to move people to take the actions you would like on your profile.
1. Decide if you want Search Engine Optimized – or a Human-Friendly Headline.
LinkedIn is a dichotomous beast. There is the side that requires specific keywords to play well with LinkedIn’s algorithm, but there’s also the human element. There no clear-cut preference. Some LinkedIn experts recommend focusing solely on the search engine optimization (SEO), since that will make your profile more likely to appear higher in the rankings by LinkedIn’s search engine. However, the pursuit of SEO rankings could leave your headline unreadable by humans.
Note from Ninja Marben: Writing a headline with a mixture of both SEO and human friendly words is the option used by most LinkedIn Ninjas.
2. Incorporate the job title you are hoping to get hired for next.
Determine what you want to be found for, and emphasize those terms. Your headline should be future-focused, which will allow you to move toward your career goal.
The following headline for a former dentist transitioning into sales shows that he is clearly moving from his previous career and looking for a position in sales:
Note from Ninja Marben: Ninja’s use this │symbol to separate terms in your headline. To use the symbol and other separators compose your headline in MS Word then copy and paste in the headline space in LinkedIn
3. Use metrics when you can.
Numbers catch the eye and give the reader an accurate picture of your contributions at work. Example:
Professional Headline Tips for Job Seekers
1. If you are looking while unemployed, touch on that lightly in your headline. (But, only if you want to!)
There’s no rule that you MUST state you are seeking your next gig if you are unemployed. If you’re not comfortable with that, don’t.
Just know that many career experts feel that in the current job market, advertising that you are looking doesn’t carry much of a stigma… IF you do it tactfully.
Looking at the example above, the simple mention of “Seeking:…” states the point succinctly. A headline of “Unemployed and looking” might as well say “Twiddling my thumbs.” Don’t make it the sole focus of your headline or waste too many precious characters on it. Touch on it, and then move on to emphasizing brand elements or keywords that will help you to be found.
Note from Ninja Marben: Consider including your company’s name. If
talent from your company is highly sought-after by recruiters, you may want to
include your company’s name in your headline. You’ll improve your chances of
being found by a headhunter who is conducting a search with your company name.
2. Include different words that mean the same thing.
Outstanding Bio Tech Sales Representative/Account Manager │With a deep & active 12K customer database
The example contains both “Sales Representative” and “Account Manager.” The same job can have a different title at different companies and recruiters may search for either. It may seem repetitive, but it will appease the SEO gods.
Note from Ninja Marben: Use a Testimonial. Are you known for something special? Include it in your headline for an extra punch.
3. Answer the “What’s in it for Me” question.
The person reading your profile will want to know “What’s in it for me?” Use your headline to clearly show how your expertise will benefit a potential employer.
Formal Head of Surgery for Mass General │ Board Chairman for General Biotech │President of the New England Chapter of the American Medical Association
The headline above draws attention to the job seeker’s experience as a former medical professional, offering knowledge, skills, and connections useful in the medical, and biotech fields.
Note from Ninja Marben: Don’t waste space with overused buzzwords. Before you include a word in your headline, ask yourself whether it will hold meaning for the reader. In my next LinkedIn Ninja post I will explore the use of power words in your profile.
4. Include Contact Information in Your Headline
What is the use of writing a great headline if the headhunter has to do anther search to find your contact information? Headhunters are all about speed and efficiency, help them by providing an accurate means to connect with you via email, website or by phone. Worried about privacy? Set up a Google Voice account for your business or job search, tying all of your phones to one number that you can make public while keeping your personal numbers private. Google can provide similar solutions to keep your email and websites private.
The Bottom Line: Headline T.L.C.
Your professional headline is critical to your success on LinkedIn; give it the tender loving care it deserves. Revise your headline regularly to reflect changes in your procession or to promote something you want your contacts and the world to know about.
Marben Bland is The LinkedIn Ninja; He works with business, job seekers and others on tactics to master the power of LinkedIn. Comment to Marben about this blog post and other matters via email firstname.lastname@example.org