When I was poking around on LinkedIn today, I noticed something —many of my former colleagues are still using their current job title, i.e. Marketing Director or Senior Manager, as their LinkedIn headline. While it’s better than not having a headline, it’s a missed opportunity. Especially if you’ve got a portfolio career in the making.
So if you only have time to do one 10-minute task this week to focus on your professional development, make that task be to take a hard look at your LinkedIn headline, and give it an edit to better reflect the unique and marketable skills you want to apply in your work life.
3 Steps to a Better LinkedIn Headline
1.) Take a look at the skills for which others have endorsed you.
Are these skills you want to put to use in future positions, even if you aren’t using them now? Do they lend themselves to a unique and specific title, such as Editor, Coach, Illustrator, etc.? If so, make sure to include that as one part of your headline. This is especially helpful for those who are pursuing portfolio careers.
2.) See what other people in your network with similar backgrounds are using as their headline.
If you’re truly stuck at what other related titles or skills to include in your headline, check out what your colleagues have used. LinkedIn makes that easy by giving you a link when you click on the editing pencil to edit your headline.
3.) Search for people with your dream job or who work for your dream company and see what their headlines include.
Chances are that they will be great examples of profiles with the language/wording that filter to the top of recruiters’ searches.
Here’s my professional headline for some inspiration, and as an example:
Marketing Consultant | Content Marketing Strategist | Blogger | Freelance Writer
Now, some of you are probably thinking, “Isn’t that entirely too long of a headline?” or even “Why is she using that funny character between titles?” But here’s the thing— LinkedIn gives you more than enough room to have four distinct career areas listed. So you may as well use that space to its full extent.
Most importantly, my headline includes both the type of title that would apply to any future contract positions for which I’d want to have a recruiter consider me, as well as reflecting the types of portfolio projects I regularly take on. It is, in a nutshell, a distillation of what you’ll see if you scroll through the rest of my profile. And that’s what you want to aim for with your headline.
A Word of Caution: Don’t SPAM Your LinkedIn Headline
Chances are that while you were looking at other people’s headlines, you came across one or two that came across like they were yelling at you from across the street. You know, something along the lines of:
Joe Smith, TOP RANKED INTERNET MARKETING NINJA, Call today! (415) 555-5555 or QuickSEO@yahoo.com for quote on SEO SEM $$$
Headlines that are promotional to the point of trying to sell you something, and that include your contact information in them are a big no-no on LinkedIn. Specifically, the LinkedIn user agreement calls out the following as being prohibited in your headline:
(Do not:) Publish inaccurate information in the designated fields on the profile form (e.g., do not include a link or an email address in the name field). Please also protect sensitive personal information such as your email address, phone number, street address, or other information that is confidential in nature;
Still stumped on how to improve upon your headline? Check out this Forbes article, How to Make Your LinkedIn Headline Stand Out, for further inspiration.