I put a friend to the test by having him tell me what I had just changed in my LinkedIn profile Headline. He couldn’t tell me. Which means he didn’t know what I had for a previous Headline. Which also means it wasn’t memorable.
A poll I conducted on LinkedIn, in which 1,883 people voted, concluded that the Headline is the most important section, followed by Experience and About. This begs the question if the Headline is so important, shouldn’t my friend have remembered it? The short answer is he should have.
Much has been written about the Headline. Some have opined on what makes a Headline strong. Today I’m going to suggest four ways to approach writing your Headline, none of which are wrong.
1. Keywords only
This is probably the most common way to write a Headline, and it was how I wrote mine back in the day. The purpose for doing this is to attract hiring authorities or business people to your profile when they do a search. It’s widely believed that the Headline is valuable real estate, carrying more weight than all the sections, save for your titles.
You can begin with your title followed by areas of expertise. Or perhaps you want to include multiple titles (guilty). Choosing the latter could spread you a bit thin. I went with titles that describe who I am:
LinkedIn Trainer | Career Coach | Blogger ~ LinkedIn and the Job Search.
Later I added a tagline and some awards when LinkedIn increased the character count from 120 to 220.
Note: I’m a strong believer that indicating you’re looking for work is a waste of space and, more importantly, doesn’t add value to your Headline. LinkedIn has made mentioning this fact unnecessary by giving you the option to wear the banner, “#OPENTOWORK.”
2. Tagline only
Those who feel comfortable being gainfully employed are more likely to write in their Headline a tagline similar to what would be listed on a personal business card. My valued connection, Austin Belcak, goes with a tagline:
I Help People Land Amazing Jobs Without Applying Online // Need Help With Your Job Search? Let’s Talk (Info Below)
Austin recently changed it to: I Teach People How To Land Amazing Jobs Without Applying Online // Need Help With Your Job Search? DM or Email Me For Coaching (Info Below)
This works well for him because his thing is emphasizing that searching online is not the way to go. Rather, one should tap into the Hidden Job Market by researching companies and then networking their way into said companies.
Another way to write your tagline is to begin with a question such as, “Ask me how I can consistently increase your revenue by 150%.” This serves as a viable hook.
3. Tagline and keywords
This is my preferred way of writing a Headline but as I said, it’s subjective; and you have to be comfortable with how you present yourself.
Tagline first, keywords following
One element of a strong Headline is a tagline–a sentence that stands out because it says what you offer employers or business partners. It effectively brands you by accurately depicting who you are and the value you’ll deliver.
A tagline with the previous 120 characters was hard to pull off, but now you have the space to comfortably include a tagline, albeit not too much space.
Where do you list your tagline, at the beginning or end of your headline? I suggest listing it first for the WOW factor. The keywords are important for searches. They are what helps hiring authorities or potential business partners find you. But the tagline is your value statement.
One thing to consider is that your photo and headline appear in people’s feed. We’ll call them your first impression. However, your whole headline doesn’t show; LinkedIn users seeing your first impression see approximately 70 characters or 10 words.
To illustrate what they’ll see, here is a segment of my colleague, Ana Lokotkova‘s headline: Helping hustlers tell their career stories & get hired | Career Advi…
Ana recently changed it to: I help a good candidate become the right candidate for the right opportunity | Career Advisor | LinkedIn Personal Branding | Resume Writer | Interview Coach | Speaker | YouTube Video Creator
This is now what visitors see when they initially search for her “a good candidate become the right…” get hired is made very clear. I can relate to this. Here’s the complete headline:
I help a good candidate become the right candidate for the right opportunity | Career Advisor | LinkedIn Personal Branding | Resume Writer | Interview Coach | Speaker | YouTube Video Creator
Keywords first, tagline after
Austin Balcak, suggest listing your keywords at the beginning of your profile. He calls them your hook. He writes:
“[A killer Headline is a] keyword filled overview of your role/abilities followed by an illustration of value (preferably with measurable metrics). For example, let’s say we’re a sales person in the market for an account executive or sales manager role. Our headline might look like this:
Account Executive, Business Development, Sales Manager | Helping SaaS Companies Accelerate Revenue To $10M+ In ARR“
The beginning of the headline is packed with relevant keywords and the second half of this headline creates a clear illustration of the value we bring to the table.”
This approach is also good in theory, and many headlines I’ve seen lead with keywords. This method clearly says what the person does and their areas of expertise. They are an Account Executive, Business Development, Sales Manager.
The hybrid model (keywords, tagline, keywords)
Another option is starting your Headline with keywords, dropping in a branding statement, and then concluding with keywords. This is the Oreo method with the cookie (keywords) sandwiching the branding statement (cream). I go with this method because keywords do matter.
Career Coach ◆ LinkedIn Trainer ◆ Online Instructor ◆ Blogging Fanatic 👊 I’m on the frontline fighting 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗚𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗙𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 against unemployment 🏆LinkedIn Top Voices 2019 | Avid Walker #LinkedInUnleashed
Opposed to the Headline I sported when we where only allowed 120 characters, I feel my current Headline (220 characters) delivers a stronger message.
4. How about a little color
You’ll notice that I include some emojis in my Headline. Other LinkedIn members do this as well. The emojis can be black or colorful. Mine includes both. Whether you use color or not, emojis draw the reader’s attention to your Headline. My advice is to use colorful emojis judiciously.
Here are some examples from people who employ color in their Headlines.
Kelli Hrivnak Recruiter partnering with companies to hire Digital Marketing & Technology Talent | Dream Team Builder 🏆 Career Growth Catalyst
Gillian Kelly Bland and boring are lousy career strategies. ✩Talent Brand-builder ✩ LinkedIn Top Voice ✩ Award-winning Resume Writer ✩ LinkedIn Profile Writer ✩ Future of Work Nerd 🎤 Speaker 💙 More kindness.
Steve Levy 👋 Engineer turned Recruiting mentor (but not a “former engineer”) 👐 Humanity rules 🌊 ex-Jones Beach Ocean Lifeguard (way better than ex-MAANG) 💻 68 69 72 69 6e 67 20 74 65 63 68 20 2d 20 72 65 6d 6f 74 65
Here we have the four ways you can write your LinkedIn profile Headline. Again, none of them are wrong. Depending on your goal, you might choose a particular style. Job seekers, for instance, might go with keywords only; whereas those who are gainfully employed could opt for tagline or tagline/keywords.
Checkout the list of the top 100+ LinkedIn voices job seekers should follow, where you will find the Headlines for each person.