There are over 475 million professionals on LinkedIn so it pays to stand out and get noticed. Your profile headline is your golden ticket to showing up higher in LinkedIn search results, attracting greater numbers of profile views, and showcasing your personal brand.
If I could offer you one piece of advice when it comes to LinkedIn, one thing that you should fix up immediately, an action to take care of right now, it’s to change your LinkedIn headline.
Part of the problem with headlines is LinkedIn itself. It automatically lists your current job title and employer as the default. And you continue to stick with this tried and tested, safe and sound option.
I’m yawning just thinking about it
As an interesting individual with an entirely unique story to tell, why do you still seem content to describe what you do, who you help, how you help them, your social proof, your worth, by referring to yourself by your job and the company you work for alone?
Why don’t you want to make full use of LinkedIn’s 120-character headline to give yourself a powerful headline statement about your true value to a business or employment prospect?
Maybe you don’t know how to. Or perhaps you just don’t realise how essential your headline actually is.
Your headline is the first thing someone sees when you pop up in their search results – no lengthy summary, no great detail about your recent experience, mainly just you and your headline.
In a world of distraction and increasing online noise, one search-optimised sentence is all it takes to grab people’s attention on LinkedIn and stand out from the crowd. If you truly want to generate leads, attract new customers, and grow sales, you need to change your LinkedIn headline… right now.
Here’s how to tread the path to headline greatness.
1. Brainstorm industry-specific keywords to change LinkedIn headline
Nobody really cares that you’re the ‘Marketing Director at John Smith Supplies’. What they do care about is how you’ll help them fix their problems or business issues.
You only have 120 characters, including spaces, to grab their attention, show them what you provide, and how best you can serve them so sit down and brainstorm some of the most compelling keywords to reveal your expertise, focus, the target audience your serve, the benefit to your customers in using you.
Take me, for example. I’m a ‘Writer’. I work with ‘Finance’ clients. My offerings are generally ‘LinkedIn’-focused. And I have ‘International’ experience. As you can see, I’m starting to build my base keywords but I need to do much more.
2. Add your specialty – use adjectives and get creative!
Keywords alone aren’t great without some focus and a bit of wordsmithing. Being a ‘Writer’ doesn’t give you a reason to hire me so I need to spice it up and look at my specialty. Instead of ‘Writer’, I could say that I’m a ‘Professional Business Writer Specialising in Personal Finance’. I might say that I have ‘Proven International Expertise’ or that I’m the ‘#1 Ranked LinkedIn Profile Writer in Australia’ (as long as I can prove that, which thankfully I can!).
Consider also adding adjectives to give more ‘wow’ to the headline – words like ‘Energetic’, ‘Gifted’, ‘Inspirational’ or ’Dynamic’ can really make a job title pop. Also try using creative suffixes to describe your work such as ‘Advisor’, ‘Champion’, ‘Specialist’, ‘Innovator’ or ‘Advocate’.
3. Give more detail about what you do
Rather than leave your headline with job and specialty, go a bit deeper and use short phrases to talk about what you’re responsible for or try to expand on how you help your target market. Consider phrases like ‘Driving Customer Excellence as Operations Manager’ or ‘Connecting Employers and Employees Through Effective Engagement Strategies’.
As a Writer, I might look at my own profile and include ‘Boosting Personal Brands Through Powerful Writing’ or ‘Creates Compelling Content to Drive Leads and Opportunities’. Obviously, you don’t have a lot of word count to play around with but you should be able to squeeze something in.
4. Incorporate your passions
Don’t try to outline your bucket list but you can talk to future desires or personal passions that would lead a potential employer to look deeper – some of my clients even opt for activities they pursue away from the workplace, such as sports or even non-profit roles, to give their headline greater personality.
Taking my headline as an example again, I might say that I am an ‘Online Content Enthusiast’ or, if I was working in Retail, I could say that I’m a ‘Champion of Retail Excellence’. It’s about giving more insight into you as a person and what you stand for and believe in – in other words, what your mission is at work and in life.
5. Describe your accomplishments
You only have 120 characters but you can still find space to talk to your achievements and accolades, if you feel comfortable doing so. As a sales professional, use keywords to convey some of your results. If you’re in the field of education, how many years have you been teaching and at what levels?
With my own headline, I might say something like ‘5-Year Huffington Post Blogger’ or ‘Regularly Featured in The Telegraph’. It’s not about being overly salesy but, instead, building social proof and showcasing your true value.
6. Icons give impact
You’ve no doubt seen the keyword-driven headline with the bright and bold icons – stars, ticks, diamonds, even crowns or coloured bullets. I’m a big fan of the icon because I feel that it really does make the headline stand out and catches the reader’s eye if done well and in moderation.
A simple Google search will reveal potential LinkedIn icons to use or look at LinkedIn profile headlines that you like, then copy and paste the icon from the individual’s headline onto your own (and also onto your Experience headlines lower down in the profile). For the more conservative user, consider simpler punctuation marks – the vertical line character or ‘|’ is a popular choice. And feel free to regularly change the headline to keep people engaged. Here’s how mine currently looks – it’s by no means perfect but it does ensure that I rank for the right keywords and search terms.
7. Avoid cheesy, overused keywords and statements
Are you really a superstar or guru? Can you honestly lay claim to being a marketing legend? Don’t oversell by incorporating cheesy keywords that cannot be backed by hard evidence. And try to avoid the overused cliches such as Strategic, Creative, Innovative and Entrepreneur. I hate the use of Entrepreneur. Everybody is a bloody Entrepreneur. Believe me, you’re probably not an Entrepreneur and, if you are, try to find another way of describing yourself and your abilities. Please.
So there you have it. Now it’s time to change your LinkedIn headline.
Think of your 120-character headline as a snapshot of your broader LinkedIn profile and give a great first impression that encourages the visitor to want to learn more.
Use descriptive keywords and catchy phrases to demonstrate your offerings and the target market you serve.
Show people that you understand their industry, you can help them, and that you’ve had success.
Create one powerful keyword-rich sentence to grab the reader’s attention and make it easy for them to understand who you are, what your work is, and the value you bring.
Over to you.
How does your headline stack up? Still got work to do or well on your way?