By Laura Smith-Proulx
Your LinkedIn Headline is arguably the most important piece of real estate within your Profile. Yet most users remain confused about its true function, and what to use (in place of the default, which is your current job title).
Here’s why you need to pay attention: inside LinkedIn’s search algorithm, your Headline ranks #1 out of all the other pieces of data you can add to your Profile. This means your Headline keywords are weighted more heavily as search terms.
In addition, your Headline is the first (and possibly the ONLY) piece of information other users see! It’s displayed in a search list, under your name in an Invitation, and in numerous other prominent places on the site.
Therefore, you’ll need to avoid using the most meaningless words possible in your Headline, reviewing these examples (all found in actual Profiles!) – and using the suggestions for a stronger alternative:
1 – “Top 1% (5%, etc.) Viewed Profile.”
Sure, this is an accomplishment… but not of any magnitude worth touting to employers.
Here’s why: if you’re an Operations Director, and put only these 2 words in your Headline, plus the same title for your past 4 jobs and NO other information anywhere in your Profile, you’ll probably rank in the Top 1% for this phrase!
In other words, reaching 1% this way would require hardly any effort, and it would limit your searchability for anything else.
However, your Top Viewed Profile ranking will drop (which is ironic… and yet, your job search will benefit!).
Therefore, an impressive Top Viewed ranking is just that – impressive, but not helpful in your search and not worth using precious, keyword-heavy real estate (even if you want a job writing LinkedIn Profiles!).
Disclaimer: I’m ranked among the Top 1% as well (but you won’t find it in my Headline).
2 – “Results-Driven.”
Just like on your resume, it’s important to use terms that distinguish you from the competition. This phrase and others like it (“dynamic” or “visionary,” anyone?) have become so embedded in boilerplate resume-speak, they’re essentially meaningless.
Plus, can you picture a recruiter using “Results-driven” as a search term? I didn’t think so.
Instead, consider adding a short phrase to your Headline that actually describes results, slipping in a keyword or two (“Marketing VP Improving Social Media Engagement”).
Even a short, powerful note on the ROI from your skills (“Sales Manager | #1 Revenue Record Across Americas”) can make a better impression.
3 – “Experienced.”
Unless you’re a student, this word doesn’t count for much in describing your career. Most professionals, by way of their job titles and career history, ARE “experienced” in their chosen fields, so you’re not laying claim to a unique skill.
Make your Headline more search-friendly by using a mixture of current and target job titles (“Senior Director, VP Sales”) to show your career goals, or a short description of your achievements (“12%+ Annual Sales Growth”).
Either way, showing your career aspirations or accomplishments will actually prove that you’re experienced and worthy of employer attention.
4 – ”Father,” “Husband,” “Wife,” etc.
I’ll say it again – LinkedIn isn’t Facebook, and it certainly isn’t Twitter (where these types of mini-bios are common).
On LinkedIn, other users are most interested in your career level and ability to produce results in a professional environment. Leave the family references for a more personal venue.
5 – ”Unemployed.”
If you’re not using your Headline to strengthen your brand message with keywords and job titles, you’re missing out on potential traffic and employer interest. “Unemployed” is hardly a search term, and it certainly doesn’t speak to your expertise.
(It might, however, convey desperation.)
Instead of wasting Headline space with it, try sending the same message while specifying what you offer employers (“IT Director Seeking Infrastructure, Operations, & Development Leadership Role”), while injecting strong keyword content.
As you can see, there’s many ways to capture and express value to an employer with your Headline.
Take a few minutes to add some creative phrasing and keyword content for better ROI from your Profile.