LinkedIn has become the go-to source for businesses to network, for job seekers to find work, and for individuals to manage their careers effectively.
Employers and businesses use LinkedIn as their primary tool to find great talent to join their workforce and as a conduit to growing their business. Many users fail to understand the importance of having a great LinkedIn headline and how it can help them stand out from their peers.
This guide will show you how to write a professional LinkedIn headline to help you stand out from the crowd, get you trending in search results, and offer some killer LinkedIn headline examples.
Why is a good LinkedIn headline important?
Creating a strong LinkedIn profile will boost your career prospects. However, many users overlook the importance of a powerful LinkedIn headline and instead rely on the default LinkedIn headline examples, which simply state your current job title.
Your one-line resume
Your LinkedIn headline is the first thing potential employers and other businesses see, so making your mark is essential. It's your opportunity to tell your target audience in 220 characters or fewer what sets you apart from your peers. Think of it as a one-line resume.
A weak LinkedIn headline will see your profile overlooked, meaning you miss your dream job or the opportunity to increase your business.
In contrast, a strong LinkedIn headline will pique people's curiosity and have them click on your LinkedIn profile to learn more about what you can offer. The more clicks you get, the better your chance of connecting with the right people.
The only two parts of your LinkedIn profile visible in search results are your profile picture and your LinkedIn profile headline.
Time is a precious commodity, and people don't have time to click through all the profiles returned by LinkedIn's search algorithm, so having a LinkedIn headline that stands out from the crowd will give you a head start over your peers.
Your LinkedIn headline explains who you are, what you can offer, and your chance to convince potential employers and customers that they should click on your LinkedIn profile to learn more about you. It affects how a hiring manager or prospective client will perceive you from the outset.
In addition, your LinkedIn headline can show up in Google search results. Appearing in a Google search is the best possible exposure you can receive.
Types of LinkedIn headlines
There are two reasons for creating a zinger of a LinkedIn headline. Either you're looking for a new job, or you're looking to sell yourself or your services to potential clients.
Depending on what you're looking to gain from LinkedIn, you will want to tailor your LinkedIn headline slightly.
LinkedIn headlines for job seekers
LinkedIn is well-known for being a rich source of vacancies for job seekers to search and apply for enticing new roles. Yet, on the flip side, approximately 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn as a primary source of finding top-tier candidates.
Standing out from your competitors is essential, and your LinkedIn headline must tell employers what you do and give them a flavor of the results you can produce.
For example, if you're a business analyst with Microsoft, the default LinkedIn headline example would be "Business Analyst with Microsoft." While this tells employers your job title and place of work, it doesn't tell them what value you could bring to their company.
LinkedIn headlines for salespeople and entrepreneurs
Many individuals use LinkedIn to sell their services to potential new clients. For example, it's a rich source of business for freelancers who provide business services such as copywriting, graphic design, and web design services.
Unlike job seekers, people looking to create their own business don't need to use keywords or their job title to drive traffic to their LinkedIn profile. Instead, they can use their LinkedIn headline to be as explicit as possible about the services they provide and the value they offer.
How to build an excellent LinkedIn headline for job seekers
If you're a job seeker looking to get yourself found in more LinkedIn searches, there is a simple-to-follow, two-step format for constructing an effective LinkedIn headline.
It involves finding and using keywords to give the reader an overview of your LinkedIn profile and then telling them about the value you will bring to the hiring manager and their firm.
Step 1: Using keywords for your overview
LinkedIn's search algorithm works in the same way that any other internet search engine does. To get your profile to appear in specific LinkedIn search results, you must know your target audience and understand what keywords and phrases they will be searching for most often.
For example, if a recruiter is searching for a project manager to work in the rail industry, they are likely to type "Project Manager Rail" in the search bar.
LinkedIn SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) works in the same way as Google or YouTube, by prioritizing LinkedIn profiles that include the words "Project Manager" and "Rail," which are keywords. The more prominent the keyword placement, such as in your headline, the better your chance of excellent LinkedIn search appearances.
So, if you were seeking a new job as a project manager in the rail industry, these would be the right keywords to include in your LinkedIn headline.
Selecting the right keywords for your own headline
Your LinkedIn headline counts heavily towards where your profile shows up in search results, so taking time to find relevant keywords tailored to the roles you want is essential.
With a maximum of 220 characters to create your LinkedIn headline, it's impossible to change it for each specific job posting to which you may be interested in applying. It must be general enough to appear in various searches but not so generic that it appeals to nobody.
So how do you find the right keywords to include in a good LinkedIn headline?
- Begin by searching LinkedIn's Jobs Board to find roles you would be interested in for your next position. Be sure to include filters so you're only receiving results on job titles you'd be genuinely interested in within your geographical locale and industries in which you'd like to work.
- Go through the search results and find the roles that stand out to you. Note the job title and continue until you have around 30 or more job titles. Ignore whether or not you have the right qualifications or career expertise at this stage.
- Aggregate the job titles and determine which words and phrases appear most frequently across your list of titles. Tools such as Word Clouds can do this for you with the click of a couple of buttons and return a word cloud containing the words that appear most often. Clicking on each word in the cloud will tell you how many times it appears in that list.
This data is invaluable in determining which keywords and phrases to use in your LinkedIn headline. At a minimum, you want to prioritize the top three most regularly occurring keywords; however, aim to use up to seven if possible.
Then, go through the list of job titles and find which combination of words appears together most often. For instance, if your top three terms are "Business," "Data," and "Analyst,” and the results show more titles saying "Business Analyst" than "Data Analyst," then the former should be the LinkedIn keywords that will catch the eye of your target audience.
Additional keywords you can include in a LinkedIn headline for job seekers include:
- Job title
- Previous experience
- Certifications and qualifications
- Services and products you offer
- Degree name or field of study
Step 2: Listing your value proposition
Now that you've worked out which keywords to use in your LinkedIn headline, it's time to create your value proposition. This mini "elevator pitch" shows off your value and results. Include action words to illustrate your impact on businesses.
This value illustration will help you stand out from other potential candidates when job hunting.
If you take a moment to run a search on LinkedIn for your current job title, you'll find the majority of headline examples in the search results all look very similar. They'll be the default headline generated by LinkedIn, with the only differential being the name of the company they work for.
Working at a renowned brand can be helpful, but that does not demonstrate to a managing director of a hiring company that the prospective employee has contributed to their success.
The best LinkedIn headline examples include a demonstratable, measurable metric that will catch the eye of a potential employer. This value proposition is what you use to hook hiring managers into wanting to click on your LinkedIn profile.
Measurable examples of job seekers’ LinkedIn headlines
Finding your value proposition for some industries and job roles can be challenging. Here are some examples of different types of roles.
- Sales - Sales increase, improved margins, customer retention rates.
- Project Managers - Projects delivered under budget / ahead of time, improved customer satisfaction.
- Product Managers - Successful new product development and rollouts, market share, and new feature releases.
- Marketing - Click-through rates, lead conversion rate, return on investment.
Combining keywords and value proposition to create a professional LinkedIn headline
Once you've worked out your LinkedIn keywords and how to illustrate your value, it's time to combine them into a catchy headline.
These are some great LinkedIn headline examples for job seekers:
Example 1: The digital sales manager
In this example, you're a sales manager searching for a new job in the IT Datacenter industry.
Top 5 Keywords: Digital Sales, Sales Manager, IT, Datacenter, Public Sector
LinkedIn headline example: "Digital Sales Manager - Secured New $4 Million Datacenter Contract to Upgrade Public Sector IT Systems in Transport."
This example includes all of the keywords. At the same time, the multi-million dollar government contract you won to upgrade public sector IT systems demonstrates your value proposition.
Example 2: The human resources partner
If you work in HR, there are several measurables you can use as examples for your value proposition. For example:
Top 5 Keywords: HR, Business Partner, Management, Staff, Retention
LinkedIn headline example: "HR Business Partner - Human Resources Management - Increased Staff Retention Rates by 33% Over Five Years."
This professional headline example delivers in two ways: it displays your experience as an HR business partner in human resources management over at least five years. During this period, you increased staff retention rates by a third, delivering several benefits for your company.
The tangible and immediately obvious benefit was a reduction in staff turnover. However, any hiring managers reading between the lines will gather the hint that you also delivered improvements in staff morale and a more productive workforce.
Example 3: The product manager
This example is for a product manager looking for a new role in the software development arena, utilizing your experience using agile project management methodologies.
Top 5 Keywords: Product Manager, Project Management, Software Development, Agile, Lean
LinkedIn Headline Example: "Product Manager - Software Development - Reduced Lead Times on Product Rollouts by 18% Using Agile Project Management Methodologies and LEAN Techniques.
This headline example displays your experience as a product manager in the software development industry while delivering quicker rollouts of new products through agile project management methods.
Any hiring manager in the software development space will love this, as efficiency is crucial. Knowledge of agile methodologies is increasingly essential, and demonstrating their use to deliver improvements will immediately grab their attention.
How to build a professional LinkedIn headline for sales and entrepreneurs
Usually, if you have a presence on LinkedIn for your business, potential customers will already heavily view your LinkedIn profile; however, these views are not turning into new clients. Since you have passing traffic already, it's less important that your LinkedIn headline appears in search results.
Instead, your LinkedIn headline should clarify that you're working to help your viewers solve a problem they have.
Often heavily in-demand services include sales copywriting, web design, career coaching, or recruitment.
As with building a LinkedIn headline for somebody job hunting, there is a simple three-step formula to follow when creating a concise headline that will turn profile views into new clients.
Step 1: Illustrate your unique value
Working out what your unique value is can be a difficult thing to do. It can be helpful to ask yourself a couple of simple questions.
Firstly, how do you help people? And secondly, what is different about how you help them?
For example, a freelance sales copywriter might answer, "I help people turn website clicks into sales. I'm different from my peers because I work closely with my clients to create persuasive sales copy using their brand tone that talks directly to their customers."
Quite simply, your unique value is the answer to the problem that clients have come to you to help solve. In this case, you are turning website traffic into sales for them.
What sets you apart from other freelance copywriters is the collaborative way you work with your clients to understand their target audience and tailor your sales copy so that it turns web page viewers into new customers.
Step 2: Seek feedback
While it's all well and good having your perspective on what you offer, it's worth nothing if customers disagree with you.
The best feedback comes from those who know you and your services best. Family and friends are great but may tell you what you want to hear. Instead, speak to previous customers and clients and ask for their feedback.
Ask them what they've found you've helped them with most and what made you stand out from others with whom they've worked with.
The bigger your sample size, the better the data to work with and understand the results.
Read the comments and feedback carefully and identify which words and phrases appear most often. You'll soon find a common strand you can use in your LinkedIn headline.
Once you've drafted one or two LinkedIn headline examples, there's no harm in asking for additional feedback to check that what you're offering is what you'll deliver.
Step 3: Include a call to action
Including a call to action is the easy part of your LinkedIn headline and one that many people forget.
Once you've persuaded your audience that you have the solution to their problem, tell them the next step they need to take.
Include a call to action at the end of your LinkedIn headline, so they know you want to hear from them. The most effective LinkedIn headline for entrepreneurs will end with a simple phrase, "To find out more, message me today!"
Great LinkedIn headlines for unemployed and students
Many people will have a gap in their career path where they have been unemployed, and, of course, every single person will have been looking to take their first steps into a career after studying.
Here's how to create a professional headline that acknowledges these stages in life yet doesn’t dwell on them.
Use proactive language
Remember, you only have a limited space in which to sell yourself to potential employers with your LinkedIn headline, so avoid wasting space using phrases such as:
- Seeking New Opportunities
- Actively Looking For
- Seeking New Direction
- Open To Change
These phrases tell hiring managers nothing about your skillset and the value you can bring them.
Make the focus of your LinkedIn headline the skills that you do have. Whether this is through studies, work courses, or even extracurricular activities you want to turn into a career, this is your value add.
For example, if you're between jobs but have been learning web design to become a web designer, those are the skills you should be selling.
Don't be afraid to describe yourself as an "Unemployed Web Designer" or "Graduate Web Designer" and include any certifications or qualifications you've gained.
Tips for creating a professional headline on LinkedIn
There are several potential pitfalls that are too easy to fall into when writing your LinkedIn headline, which will negatively impact what you're trying to achieve.
Here are some of the things to avoid including in your LinkedIn headline:
The line between self-confidence and arrogance is a fine one. While your LinkedIn headline is a crucial opportunity to sell yourself, you must ensure you come across as confident and self-assured. Customers and hiring managers like to know they're dealing with individuals who understand what they're doing.
However, steer clear of hyperbole or making grand claims that will not stack up under interrogation. Be careful with adjectives and let your value proposition speak for itself.
These are some words you should consider removing from your LinkedIn headline:
A more straightforward value proposition, such as "Increased maintenance contract sales by 30% in 12 months." reads much more favorably than "Top-performing sales representative four years running."
Don't overuse capital letters
LinkedIn headlines should follow standard headline capitalization rules in which most words begin with a capital letter. However, the following types of words generally do not:
- Articles (a, an, the)
- Prepositions (at, by, from)
- Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for)
- Short words (usually less than five letters)
It can be tempting to think a headline written in all capital letters will be eye-catching. While that's true enough, it won't be for the right reasons.
Don't use emojis
Whether job hunting or using your LinkedIn profile for entrepreneurial reasons, it's essential to ensure your LinkedIn headline looks professional.
Emojis can add a decorative flourish to a headline. However, many hiring managers or potential clients will consider them unprofessional and may overlook your profile if there's one or more in your LinkedIn headline.
Check your LinkedIn headline for spelling and grammar
The best LinkedIn headlines are those that read well, have the correct spelling, and are grammatically accurate.
These are things prospective employers and clients will look for as a sign of your professionalism. In particular, sloppy spelling and grammar suggest a lack of attention to detail.
This lack of care and detail will count against you, whether you're looking for a job or trying to build your customer base.
Don't leave the headline blank
Leaving your LinkedIn headline section blank produces several difficulties for you.
The LinkedIn search algorithm is unlikely to show your profile in search results without a completed LinkedIn headline. If your profile does appear in a search, the results will only show your profile photo if you have one.
Recruiters looking for talented candidates will immediately overlook your profile since they'll have no guide to your skills and experience. Likewise, new customers will ignore your profile as they won't know what services you offer.
Avoid slang and uncommon abbreviations
Your LinkedIn headline should use proper English. Using inappropriate language and rarely used abbreviations should be avoided, even if a colloquialism regularly appears in your industry.
In addition, your LinkedIn headline should be explicit and not contain words with cryptic meanings. Your audience won't have time to try and work out what you're trying to say. Instead, they'll move on to the next headline that offers the services they're looking for.
Update your headline regularly
Make sure you update your LinkedIn headline regularly. For example, once you've secured your dream job, change it so that it appears less often in searches. This simple step will reduce the volume of unsolicited and unwanted messages you receive.
If you're working with an entrepreneurial profile, your business and marketing strategy will likely change over time. Evaluate your marketing strategy yearly, and update your headline accordingly as it evolves.
Be sure to mention in your headlines if your business gains credibility or comes out with new products and services that may be useful to new and existing customers.
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Creating the best headline for your future
LinkedIn headlines are essential to telling potential customers and employers about yourself and how you can benefit them. Your headline is your "elevator pitch" for why you are credible and worth doing business with, whether as an employee or service provider.
You'll want your profile picture to suit your headline and have an optimized information set. This combination will help you look professional and attract more potential customers, clients, and employees.
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