How to Craft A Compelling LinkedIn Headline

writing professional

Your LinkedIn headline is the few sentences of bold text that sits alongside your name and picture in a snapshot of your profile. After your profile photo, your headline is the most important part of creating a powerful first impression on LinkedIn. It is a key component to getting found on the platform. Essentially, it is advertising space that you can use to market yourself to recruiters and hiring managers.

Your headline carries a lot of weight in LinkedIn’s algorithm and is also a key factor in getting your profile to show up at the top of the search results for your target keywords. It will appear in searches on LinkedIn, in your contact area, when you initiate discussions in groups, and in company profiles. To generate the results you are looking for, you want a strong headline that quickly and concisely tells the reader what you do, what services you provide and what problems you solve.

By default, LinkedIn populates your headline with your current job title and employer, and this is how most people leave it. Don’t make the same mistake. Recruiters and hiring managers breeze through hundreds of LinkedIn profiles every hour, mainly looking at just the name and headline. If your headline is boring or doesn’t stand out, they’ll breeze right past. You need to create something that is memorable and enticing enough to hook you’re the reader to want to learn more about you.

Your headline should serve to promote your personal brand, succinctly tell your story and strengths, and make your profile search-friendly by using the most likely keywords or phrases that someone looking for you might use to look for someone with your skillset and communications.

Your headline should effectively communicate what you do, who you are and show your personality. It also presents the perfect opportunity to show your target audience that you understand the needs and challenges of their business.

Basic Requirements

Your headline can be up to 120 characters, must be benefit-driven, relevant and keyword targeted to your LinkedIn goals. It should also include a clear call-to-action.

Give the reader a compelling reason to check out your profile in your headline by letting them know how you can help them. If your target market is localized, then make your headline localized as well. Simply put, you can sell yourself, your brand, and your services, all with a stellar LinkedIn headline.

In addition, your LinkedIn headline should consider its target audience, and then speak directly to it. What will attract or compel the decision-maker at the receiving end of your message? What does she likely care most about? It is essential that you address that in your headline. The more specific you can be, the better.

It is important that you do not stuff your headline with keywords or else you’ll come across as a spammer. Use no more than two to three keywords at the most. You can also use a personal branding statement here, if you have one.

You can optimize your headlines in any one of the following ways:

  • Multiple Titles: You can create a headline that displays the different keyword-rich titles that someone is likely to search for related to the services that you provide.
  • Descriptive: You can write a descriptive headline that illustrates what you do with targeted keywords filtered in.

Changing Your Headline

Follow the instructions below to edit your headine:

  1. Log in to your LinkedIn account
  2. Click on the Profile link in the top navigation bar. The Edit Profile page opens.
  3. Click on the Edit link next to your name to open the Basic Information editing page shown below.
  4. Type a new headline into the Headline text box, and click the Save Changes button to make your changes go live immediately.

Your location will be very significant if you’re offering your services in a specific geography. You should also include your industry. According to LinkedIn, including your industry can help generate 15x more profile views.

Examples of Poor Headlines

At the moment, LinkedIn is filled with boring headlines. As already mentioned, if you leave your headline as it is, it will simply default to your job title and place of work.

Below are actual examples of poor headlines:

  • Principal Consultant at Hamilton & Son: This is just dull, boring and vague. It doesn’t provide a compelling reason to connect. Who are you? What do you do? Why should anyone connect with you? What can you do for me?
  • Experienced and Results-oriented Sales Manager, Available for New Opportunities: This is a vague headline that says nothing about the candidate. Who do you work for? There are millions of experienced sales managers who also claim to be results-oriented. What is so special about you? Why should I connect with you?
  • Seasoned IT Professional, CapGemini: CapGemini is a well-known, global IT brand. However, IT professional is such a broad term. What is your actual role? What is your area of speciality? Why should I bother to read your profile or connect with you?
  • Experienced Customer Service Manager at Best Insurance open to opportunities: We can tell exactly what this person does and who they work for. However, the headline is boring, it doesn’t stand out, and there is no compelling reason to click on the profile.

The main problem of the above headlines is that they are extremely boring, and there is nothing about them that would make a recruiter or hiring manager click on their profile, especially if there are more powerful headlines that stand out.

How to Craft a Powerful Headline

When crafting your headline, start by looking at other profiles in your industry that are ranking at the top of LinkedIn, and use their headlines as a guide in creating your own. Obviously, you don’t want to copy their headline word for word.

Start by answering the following question:

  1. What is your value proposition? What is the value that you provide to your target audience? You need to be specific here.
  2. What claims can you make about you or your company that no other company or person can match?
  3. Consider who you are writing for: your target audience – whom is this aimed at?
  4. What is your Unique Selling Proposition –What makes you special? Why should the reader pick YOU over the competition? What is your USP?
  5. Keyword: Consider the keywords you will use to optimize your profile. What keywords would people in your target audience will search for? If you are going for a search engine marketing role, the more search-related terms that you use here, the better (optimize, algorithms, keyword research, web traffic, etc.) Avoid stuffing the headline with too many keywords. It is important to sound as natural as possible.
  6. You need to be remembered – This is your most important challenge. You want your headline to resonate with the people that matter so it needs to stand out for having a special quality such as being creative.

Examples of compelling LinkedIn headlines

Here are a few examples of powerful, keyword-rich headlines. They are customer-driven and benefit-oriented, so a reader knows exactly what to expect from working with the professional. In addition, they contain a clear and direct call-to-action.

Descriptive Headlines

Rockstar SEO Specialist. You’re too busy to worry about getting ROI from SEO. Call me now. This headline clearly communicates the strengths of the user to the reader, and includes keywords and key phrases that people might use to find SEO industry experts via LinkedIn searches or search engines. There is a specific focus on the benefit of employing the member, and it also includes a strong call-to-action.

Business Analyst

Experienced Business analyst Helping London-based Businesses Get the Most From Their IT Investment. Let’s connect.

This powerful headline clearly demonstrates the member’s strengths, and includes powerful keywords to make the profile search-friendly via LinkedIn searches or search engines. It is also localized, so there’s a strong likelihood of being found by prospective clients in the London area. There is a specific focus on the benefit of employing the member, and it also includes a direct call to action.

SEO and Social Media Strategist

Customer-focused SEO Strategist. SEO Specialist driving successful campaigns on a shoestring budget. 400%+ ROI from SEO in the past six months.

This headline clearly communicates the skills and experience of the member to the reader, and includes generic keywords that people might use to find SEO experts via LinkedIn searches or search engines. The most powerful aspect of this profile is the ROI he has generated in his current role, as well as the strong call-to-action. This profile will stand out because it serves to differentiate this profile from the rest.

Title Headlines

Account Manager at XYZ Corporation
Seasoned Account Executive with 20+ years’ experience looking for new opportunities. This headline communicates the skills and experience of the author by creating a compelling brand statement out of his job title, experience and industry.

Social Media Executive
Social Media Executive and Strategy Consultant (specializing in Instagram). This is clearly describes what the author does, and the keywords Social Media Executive, Strategy Consultant, Instagram help searchability.

Graphic Designer

Talented Graphic Designer Makes All Your Promotional Materials Pull Customers In Like a Magnet.

Web Designer

Expert Webmaster Creates Sites That Engage, Enlighten, and Convert Your Prospects into Raving Fans.

If your target market is localized, then make your headline localized as well.

Get specific; think niche, such as:

  • Helping Small Businesses in Boise Get the Most from their IT investment.
  • Assisting Home Buyers in Orlando to Find Their Dream Home Fast and efficiently

Make your headline concise, compelling, and value-driven and you’ll stand out from those who just use the default first job title.

Localized Headlines

If your target market is localized, then make your headline localized as well.

Get specific; think niche, such as:

  • Helping Small Businesses in New York Get the Most from their IT investment.
  • Assisting Home Buyers in London to Find Their Dream Home Fast and Efficiently

Focus on making your headline concise, compelling, and value-driven and you’ll stand out from those who just use boring titles or the default first job title.

Avoid Buzz Words

According to research released by LinkedIn in January 2015, over-used business buzzwords have become a real turn-off to potential employers. The study found that certain adjectives are so overused on Cvs and resumes, that they have lost their meaning to employers, who are looking for candidates to be more original when describing themselves.

According to LinkedIn’s Darian Faraz, it’s important to be more authentic by painting a more colorful picture and steering clear of the most overused buzzwords. According to LinkedIn, the most overused buzzwords are creative, motivated, passionate, enthusiastic and track record.

To separate yourself from the competition who are still using these overused buzzwords, use strong adjectives that spices up your identity and stands you out from the rest.

Examples of strong, bold adjectives to use include:

  • Talented
  • Elite
  • Influential
  • Inspirational
  • Innovative
  • Clever
  • Astute
  • Exceptional
  • Crafty
  • Inventive
  • Original
  • Virtuous
  • Spirited
  • Exemplary
  • Ingenious

Add your most prestigious qualifications to your headline to make it particularly eye catching, and describe yourself in a way that would be simply irresistible to hiring managers. For example, if you’re a programmer, don’t simply list every single programming language that you’re experienced at. Mention one or two in a way that sounds compelling. For example:

Spirited programmer with a love for coding and mastery in C++, PHP and Java. Python and Ruby certified.

What Makes You Special?

With the level of competition that exists in the marketplace today, it has become more important than ever to be unique and original, and differentiate yourself from the competition. It is important to create the impression of a solid professional, and let potential employers know why you’re great, because no one wants to hire average employees.

You need to illustrate what makes you exceptional. For example, you may be a  good sales person because you know how to sell, but what makes you exceptional is that you consistently exceed your target by a considerable margin, every single month. Here’s how you could show that in a headline:

Exceptional insurance broker that exceeds monthly sales targets on a consistent basis by over 500%. Open to opportunities.

This is a powerful headline, and will give a hiring manager no choice but to click your headline to learn more about you.

If in Doubt, Ask Recruiters for Advice

Recruiters have a heavy presence on LinkedIn, and it is important to build strategic relationships with them. Get into the habit of engaging with them now and again. When working on your profile, there’s nothing wrong with asking them for advice, even when you think you have a great headline. They’ll let you know if there’s something you should work on.

People generally like to give out advice, and recruiters are no different especially since this is their expertise. Furthermore, not everybody does this, so this will make you stand out because it shows initiative.

So, send a message to a couple of recruiters in your network, and see what they say. If you don’t have any recruiters in your network, use inMails to directly message anyone you’re not connected with. You may need to spend a little money, but it will be money well spent.

When contacting recruiters, it is important to be strategic, rather than just blatantly asking for help. Here’s an example of a message you might send out:

Good morning,

I couldn’t help but notice that you’re a recruiter in my industry, and I was wondering if I could ask you for some advice.

I am well aware that recruiters in general are very particular about who you choose to work with. I also know that a great headline is important when job hunting. I was wondering if I could ask for your opinion on my headline. Is there anything I can do to make it better in your opinion?

I hope you don’t mind me contacting you, I’m always trying to connect with professionals in my industry, so this seemed appropriate.

I trust you’re having a great day,

Jamie.

Message a few professionals, and see what they say. Most of the time, they’ll reply back with some valuable feedback that you can incorporate not just in your headline, but in your entire profile.

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