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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

How to Make Your LinkedIn Headline Way More Effective in Under 5 Minutes

Want to show up higher in LinkedIn search results, get more visitors (a.k.a., hiring managers) to your profile, and have a more impressive personal brand?

If you said, “well, duh” to that, I have good news for you. Getting those results is easy—all you have to do is update your LinkedIn headline.

Why You Shouldn’t Use the Default

As Muse writer Jenny Foss explained in “Does Your LinkedIn Headline Suck?”, the site automatically makes your headline your current job title and employer. And that’s what most people stick with.

However, when you think about it, “Technical Lead at Core Communications” is pretty boring.

Plus, it doesn’t give your audience any new information. When people scroll through your profile, they’ll very quickly see your position and place of work in your summary and experience sections.

What Your Headline Should Accomplish

Of course, that doesn’t mean your headline can’t include where you work and what you do. It should communicate your expertise, your field, and why you’re special. But it also should be eye-catching. No matter what your LinkedIn goals are (networking, getting hired, establishing credibility or expertise, recruiting), standing out is a good thing.

I know, this sounds a bit intimidating. But it’s totally doable to hit all of these in one LinkedIn headline.

1. Add Your Specialty

Maybe, like me, you do a lot of freelance writing. Yet “Freelance Writer” is pretty generic. What topics do you cover most frequently? Maybe you’re a “Lifestyle Freelance Writer” or a “Freelance Writer Specializing in Personal Finance.”

If you’re a programmer or in another technical field, consider including the languages or technologies you use the most. “Java and Rails Engineer” is more interesting than “Software Engineer.”

Or, maybe you’re a project manager who’s worked primarily in e-commerce. You’d probably agree “Project Manager With 10+ Years in Ecommerce” packs a bigger punch than “Project Manager.”

The Takeaway

To jazz up your headline, weave in your specialty.

2. Incorporate Your Future Job

I’m passionate about content strategy and hope to get a job in the field after graduation. So, even though I don’t have any concrete experience in content strategy, I’ve put “Content Marketing Enthusiast” in my LinkedIn headline. Not only is this laying the groundwork for my post-grad job search, it also will help me show up in “content marketing” searches.

Perhaps you left your job in finance to go to coding bootcamp and become a web developer. You could add “Future Android Developer” to your headline. When tech recruiters look for Android coders, your profile will show up.

The Takeaway

To show up higher in relevant searches, add the job you want, not the job you have.

3. Include What You Do

Here’s a simple way to make your headline more interesting: Add the results of your work. Let’s say you’re an Account Manager for Chartbeat, which means you’re responsible for making sure your clients get everything they can out of Chartbeat’s products.

Rather than leaving your headline as “Account Manager,” write “Boosting Customer Experience as an Account Manager at Chartbeat.”

The Takeaway

Highlight your professional value by incorporating how you make an impact. 

4. Show Off Your Accolades

If you’ve written for, appeared in, or been mentioned by a noteworthy media source, include that in your LinkedIn headline for an instant credibility boost.

For example, you’re a PR rep who’s been interviewed by reporters from The Boston Globe and Bostinno. Your headline could be:

“PR Manager Featured in The Boston Globe and Bostinno.”

If instead, Bostinno had placed you on a list of up-and-coming PR representatives in Boston, you could write:

“PR Manager Recognized as one of Bostinno’s 10 Up-and-Coming Media Specialists.”

The Takeaway

People will both impressed and intrigued by a headline that name drops. (Yes, name-dropping is totally OK in this situation.)

Do you have an effective LinkedIn headline? Tell me on Twitter so that I can round up the best in an article!

Photo of LinkedIn courtesy of GongTo/Shutterstock.