3 Steps to Writing a Winning LinkedIn Headline

I got an email this week asking about how to write a really catchy LinkedIn professional headline.

Their original idea was this:

Experienced leader, change agent and recent University of San Diego Graduate; searching for a business leadership position in a multinational corporation with responsibility for implementation of strategic growth initiatives.

Here are some problems with it.

It’s too long, LinkedIn restricts headlines to 120 characters.

Also, never use the word “Searching”. Searching is your problem, not their solution. And you want to be their solution. Finally, avoid ALL of the top ten overused buzzwords that LinkedIn has identified. In this case, avoid “Experienced”.

Follow These 3 Steps

I wrote back to this Career Enlightenment member with the following suggested steps to crafting a better headline.

  1. Think about your target company. What are their needs?
  2. Think about what keywords someone might use to try to find you. (read this for keyword sources)
  3. Open a wordprocessor and try to come up with a concise statement based on the answers from the previous 2 steps.

Let’s assume he is targeting GE-Rail. GE-Rail makes their money by leasing trains to shipping companies. And they have a huge problem with asset tracking and lifecycle (I’m guessing here). Also, they operate in a highly regulated industry and might find military experience a bonus.

Next, let’s assume GE hires recruiters who are looking for people who live in Chicago with the words “Director” and “Operations” and “Compliance”.

After some careful word-smithing to make sure the statement is 120 characters or less, the result might look like this:

Sr. Director of Operations Specializing in Asset Tracking and Compliance | Former Naval Officer and Six Sigma Blackbelt

Characters: 119

The Rationale

It’s easy to get too clever with your headline. Remember that recruiters are using keyword searching to find new talent. So the use of keywords out-weighs being cute.

Furthermore, your headline needs to very quickly label you as a certain type of person, i.e. Sr. Level Exec versus line manager.

Finally, the job market is in such a state that most companies have their pickings of some of the best talent in the world. Your message has to be about them and how you can solve their problem.

Joshua Waldman is an Author, Speaker and Trainer specializing in helping people re-gain control of their careers in today’s economic and technology climate. As the author of “Job Searching With Social Media For Dummies”, he enjoys presenting keynotes and workshops on personal branding, online reputation and advanced LinkedIn strategy. With the mission of helping professionals break away from outdated and ineffective job-searching strategies, he runs CareerEnlightenment.com, a successful career blog. Joshua has been featured on ABC News, Mashable, International Business Times and Simply-Hired. For more information about Joshua or his book visit: http://careerenlightenment.com/book

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Comments

  1. Salem says:

    Comments:
    __Watch for typo’s as well:

    “Sr. Director of Operations Specializing is Asset Tracking and Compliance | Former Naval Officer and Six Sigma Blackbelt”

    IS?

    __”Also, never use the word “Searching”. Searching is your problem, not their solution. And you want to be their solution. Finally, avoid ALL of the top ten overused buzzwords that LinkedIn has identified. In this case, avoid “Experienced”.

    Searching / on market / seeking is used by head hunters to find immediate-availability candidates.

    __”Next, let’s assume GE hires recruiters who are looking for people who live in Chicago with the words “Director” and “Operations” and “Compliance”.

    After some careful word-smithing to make sure the statement is 120 characters or less, the result might look like this:

    Sr. Director of Operations Specializing [in] Asset Tracking and Compliance | Former Naval Officer and Six Sigma Blackbelt”

    GE has nothing to do with that headline, however, the actual “wordsmithing” is well done. That is a distillation of experience and competencies. If someone is targetting a company, shouldn’t this article be about the connection / forwarding / introductions / jigsaw?

    Would you recommend changing your headline weekly per-company targeting? That isn’t very sensical.
    Cheers.

  2. There are a few questions in your comment, so I’ll try to address each.

    1) Do headhunters search for candidates with the words “searching” or “seeking” in their headline?
    No. They are looking for qualified candidates regardless of their status. An in some cases, saying you are searching makes you look like an active candidate. Many headhunters prefer to pull candidates who are passive (not actively looking).

    2) targeting a company and the point of this article.
    This article is about LinkedIn Headlines. Job seekers should always be targeting and trying to connect. Please reference some of my other articles on this topic.

    3) Should you change headlines every week?
    You may, but the only reason I would recommend it is to split test you message against a clearly defined metric that you are trying to increase, such as # of times your profile shows up in search results. I wouldn’t do it simply to appeal to various companies on your target list.

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