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Ask A Career Coach - 6 Tips for Writing LinkedIn Headlines

Before we even get started on the topic of LinkedIn headlines, let’s do some level setting so we’re all working from the same page. You do have a LinkedIn profile, yes? And when you set it up, LinkedIn populated your headline with your current title and company name, right? Is that still your headline? Do you know you can customize it? If yes, good for you. The tips below will give you some new perspectives. If no, no worries, you’re now going to be up to speed.

Some basics before we get to the tips:

- Your headline appears along with your name and photo when you show up in a search. It’s the first view into your personal brand. No pressure but it’s got to be “click-worthy.”


- You have 120 characters to make the first impression with your headline. Make every word count.


- If you’re employed and happy with having your title, fine. I won’t argue for now. If you’re a job seeker, please, get more creative so recruiters and hiring managers will find you and want to read on.

OK, on to the tips:


1. Be clear about what you do. What value do you bring to an organization, team, customers, etc.? A title is a noun that rarely tells what you really do. Highlight descriptors that give insight into the kinds of problems you solve to make the business, customer experience, etc., better.


Example: “VP of Operations” might be just fine. “Making your business better one process at a time” could work too.


2. Stay “on brand.” Be professional and authentic in telling the LinkedIn world “why you.” Show a little personality while presenting the best of what you have to offer.


Example: “Eagle-eye HR and operations advocate challenging the status quo to drive better bottom line results.” The right company NEEDS you!


3. What’s your adjective? In the world of outplacement and executive coaching, we spend a lot of time on resumes, online profiles, biographies and the like and often focus a good deal on action verbs that demonstrate your value. Keep doing that.


But for your headline, what’s the first word you want them to read to have some insight into what’s in it for them to read on? A few ideas: High-energy? Tireless? Focused? Passionate? Thorough? Resourceful? Fun-loving (fine if you’re an entertainer for kids’ parties)? Approachable? The thesaurus will be your best friend here.


4. Know your audience. Whom do you want to find you in a search? What will entice them to click through to read your profile when you appear in search results?


Example: “Certified training manager – highly praised for delivering best outcomes in global organizations.”


5. Stay away from acronyms, jargon, etc. Unless you’re targeting an uber-industry-specific audience, make sure even I would “get it” when I read your headline. Former and retired military, pay special attention here.


6. Make it memorable. So you stick with people who viewed your profile as someone of interest. And not in a creepy way.


In short, are you selling you in your headline? Are you making prospective employers want to “buy?”


Meredith Masse, Innovative Career Consulting, an OI Global Partner based in Denver, has a personal mission to create “best places to work” filled with engaged employees and “follower-worthy” managers and leaders.