Wouldn’t you know it, the LinkedIn profile Headline is deemed more important than the About and Experience sections. In a recent poll conducted on LinkedIn, in which 1,189 people voted, 46% of the voters chose the Headline over Experience, 30%, and About, 24%.
I get why the Headline is considered to be important. It and the photo are the first things you see when LinkedIn members show up in places like your homepage stream, invitations, and People you may know on LinkedIn. And you don’t even see LinkedIn members’ whole headline.
There’s another point to consider, your Headline is weighed heavier than other sections of your profile including About and Experience verbiage; although it’s said that titles in your Experience section are weighed heavily as well. So build them up.
This is not an old debate. Many years ago, the importance of the Headline was discussed. I remember back then it was argued by many people that the Headline was the most important section of the profile. Now it’s official.
I assumed that given the fact that the About section is now its own section, it would be considered more important. I was wrong.
What is important is that you make your Headline worth reading. Simply leaving it at the default setting when you enter a position is not going to do it. It reads like: Purchasing Manager at ABC Company. There’s so much more you can add to the headline:
Purchasing Manager at ABC Company. Saving Costs, Boosting Productivity, Sustaining Supplier Relationships
You need to show the value you’ll deliver to employers. What sets you apart? You could go with keywords like: Career Coaching ✦ Interview Training ✦ CPCC/CEIP ✦ Resume and Profile Development
Or you could create some intrigue which is my intent with: FACT: being unemployed is no fun❗️FACT: it’s temporary❗️ FACT: I’m in your corner❗️ LinkedIn Trainer | Career Coach | Blogger | LinkedIn Top Voices 🏆 #LinkedInUnleashed
Maybe a tagline is your thing: Emotional Intelligence is the difference maker to bring humanity, humility, and heart into the workplace
However you choose to grab potential visitors’/connections’ attention is up to you, but one thing is for sure, the bland default Headline LinkedIn gives you when you start a new position isn’t going to cut it. I don’t think the people who voted for Headline were thinking this is the way to go.
Lastly, most agree that writing, Seeking Next Opportunity or any deviation of this is a no no. Simply stating your situation doesn’t show your value and it can be a sign of desperation. My solution to this is to write about your unemployment situation in the About section.
What about the About section?
This is where you tell your story. It’s a place to talk about the Why you do what you do, What you do, How you do it, and list some of your accomplishments. People have various ideas of how to write their About section.
One simple way to do it is to structure it after your Headline. For example, I highlight my LinkedIn Training, Career Coaching, and Blogging expertise for each one. Of course I open with two brief paragraphs. In this case the What followed by the How. That’s the wonder of the About section; it’s about you.
The About section is also a platform for being personal by using first-person point of view. It’s vastly different from you resume Summary. I see the resume Summary as stiff and lacking personality, whereas the profile Summary gives you voice.
The low score totally surprised me. I thought About was making a real dash to the finish line as of late. There was a time fairly recently when it was embedded in the Snapshot area as an introduction. It didn’t even have its own name. In the past it was called Summary, then nothing, then Summary again, and now About.
It’s about time Experience gets some respect
Many recruiters who took the poll wrote in the comments that the Experience section is the bomb. It’s where they go first. Sure, the Headline matters, but what’s most important is the meat, e.g., accomplishments that show a candidate’s value.
One recruiter writes: “I’ll be honest, as an executive recruiter, I rarely pay much attention to someone’s Headline – I look to the experience section and then to the About section….”
Another writes: “As a hiring manager, I want to see a detailed Experience section. I’ll only read the About section if the experience is interesting.”
Finally: “As a recruiter, I care most about their experience. Everything else is ‘additional reading.’ (Although the About section is important for locale/type of work.)”
I would have chosen Experience over the Headline precisely for the reasons stated above; it’s where you get a sense of what a person has accomplished if written well. Unfortunately many people neglect their Experience sections, thinking that their title tells it all.
This is a huge mistake. Think about how you can wow readers with outstanding accomplishments—what recruiters want to see. You can even write your Experience section in first-person point of view, which makes your profile more of a networking document…a personal resume.
Back to what I said about how the title is weighed heavily in terms of keywords. Simply listing your official title at your company doesn’t do you justice. Take this CEO for a small company who gives his title more description:
Chairman, CEO & President ~ New Business Development | Marketing | Sales | Capital Raises
I wanted to sum up this article by again talking about the strength of the headline but thought someone else could say it better.
Laura Smith-Prolx wrote in the comments: “The Headline sets the tone for nearly everything else in your Profile… helping attract the right audience, convey your brand value, and show the strength of your industry expertise.
“When you intentionally craft your Headline (refusing to use the default value of your current job title), you quickly realize it has the power to turn casual observers into visitors of your LinkedIn page.
“While I also believe the About section is too-often ignored, it has little prominence vs. the Headline, which is always present on every action you take (posting, commenting, showing up in a list of other users, etc.).”
Finally, LinkedIn is rolling out a longer Headline ( approximately 250 characters) and dumping the 120 character two-liner. Now we’re going to have that debate akin to should Twitter increased its 140 character count to 280? I always said that was a mistake. Maybe this new character count will be a mistake as well.