Your LinkedIn headline is one of the first things people see when they visit your profile. As such, it has the power to make a strong first impression on employers, clients, and those looking to connect with you—but only if your headline is well written.
To look your best and stand out from the crowd on LinkedIn, your headline needs to:
- Contain the right keywords
- Explain your unique value proposition
- Use strong adjectives
- Be specific
- Be (appropriately) creative
Here are some examples of headlines that are doing everything right, as well as some tips for what not to include in your headline.
1. Rebecca Wissinger – Contains the right keywords
20 million people, including hiring managers and recruiters, use LinkedIn’s search feature each week. To increase your odds of appearing in these searches, your headline needs to use the keywords these people are searching for.
Rebecca Wissinger, for example, strategically uses key marketing and social media terms—like marketing program manager, employee advocacy, and social media—in her headline. This makes her more visible to recruiters in those industries.
If you aren’t sure which keywords you should be using, there is an easy way to discover them.
- Look at job descriptions for positions that you’re interested in.
- Identify which terms and phrases that appear most often. These are the keywords you should be using.
You can check to see if your keywords are working by seeing how often your profile is appearing in recruiters’ searches. Go to the Dashboard section of your profile and click “Search appearances.” This will show you how many times your profile has come up in the search results during the past week. At the bottom of this page, you can see which keywords your searchers used to find you.
2. Julia Bramble – Explains your unique value proposition
To make your headline more impactful, you need to tell people what makes you special. Think of your headline as free advertising for your personal brand.
Julia Bramble’s headline is a good example of a LinkedIn headline that promotes your personal brand. It not only explains what she does:
“makes it simple for you to get results from social media and online marketing”
but it also highlights what qualities make her stand out from her competitors:
“unique combo of PhD forensic scientist, empathic communicator & ‘spectacularly popular presenter’”
If you need some inspiration to create or improve your personal brand, check out this list of 10 best personal brand statements.
3. Darleen Ghirardi – Uses strong adjectives
The last thing you want your headline to be is boring. Recruiters see dozens, if not hundreds, of dull headlines every day. To stand out from the crowd, you need to enhance your job title with attention-grabbing words that give viewers a clearer picture of who you are and what you have to offer.
When you look at Darleen Ghirardi’s headline, for example, the words Results-Oriented, Exceptional, and Strategic, paint a vivid picture of a competent and driven professional.
Here are some other strong adjectives to use:
4. Marc Guberti – Is specific
The more specific your headline is, the more interesting it is to read. As such, you can easily make your headline more compelling by including lots of details.
Marc Guberti’s headline is a good example of how to grab the reader’s attention with details. It not only lists the three type of clients he helps:
“authors, speakers, and business owners”
but it also tells you exactly what he does for them:
“launch, grow, and monetize their podcasts”
If you are finding it difficult to think of any details to include in your headline, try asking yourself these questions:
- What accomplishment are you most proud of?
- What type of businesses or individuals do you serve?
- What tactics do you use to help your clients or employers?
- What are you most passionate about?
5. Henneke Duistermaat – Is (appropriately) creative
What type of LinkedIn headline would you rather read—a dull, dry list of skills or something creative and (perhaps) humorous? If you’re like most people, you’d prefer the creative headline because it engages you emotionally.
A great example of a creative LinkedIn headline is Henneke Duistermaat’s:
“Irreverent writer on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook.”
While the headline lets people know what she does (write), the words irreverent and gobbledygook make readers chuckle and give people valuable insight into Henneke’s quirky personality.
However, creativity and humor don’t always work in a LinkedIn profile headline. You need to consider what would be appropriate for your position and the industry you work in before including anything too whimsical.
Headline mistakes to avoid
Part of learning how to improve your LinkedIn headline is knowing what not to do. If you want to make the best possible first impression, you should avoid doing the following:
Only mentioning your current job title and/or company
The default headline on LinkedIn is your job title and the name of the company you work for. If you leave this headline unchanged, then you are likely to get lost in the sea of “title/company” headlines.
One way to stand out from the crowd is to describe what you do using different wording. So, instead of a boring headline like:
“Director of Business Development at Company X”
your headline might look more like this:
“Creative Collaboration for Unprecedented Business Development in These Challenging Times”
Using jargon or trite phrases
You only have 220 characters to work with. Therefore, you need to make sure every word makes a strong impact.
A good way to ensure you are being as clear and concise as possible is to get rid of any filler words, like very, highly, really, just, and that. They don’t add any value and merely take up space.
Another method of weeding out the fluff is to eliminate jargon or generic buzzwords that are so overused, they’ve become trite. Here are some good ones to watch out for:
- Team player
- Think outside the box
- Track record
Advertising your unemployed status
If you’re seeking a new job, you might be tempted to include phrases like “currently unemployed,” “looking for new opportunities,” or “seeking new position” in your headline. But this is a bad idea for several reasons.
For one, recruiters aren’t searching for these phrases when they are scouting for candidates, so you are reducing your visibility by using them. You can always let employers know you’re looking for a new role through LinkedIn’s Open To Work feature.
Also, these phrases don’t tell people anything about you. You’d be better off filling your limited headline space with words and phrases that better convey your skills, abilities, and something of your personality.
At this point, you should understand the basics of what makes a LinkedIn headline great.
However, improving your headline is only one step in making sure your LinkedIn profile presents you in the best light. To ensure you reap all the benefits that come from having a stellar LinkedIn presence, you’ll need to upgrade all the other sections in your profile.
Here are some articles that can help you do so: