How to Write Your Killer LinkedIn Headline

What’s the most important part of your LinkedIn profile? (Hint: the answer is in the post title.)

Most folks will spend lots of time and energy into getting that coveted 100% profile completeness. They meticulously fill in their old employments, bio and specialities and feel that the profile is now ready to be unleashed on the world. There is one little field that is often overlooked; the headline.

Why is the LinkedIn headline important?

Your LinkedIn headline is critical as it’s the only customizable personal information people will see of you in listings, group discussions, homefeeds. When you appear in search results for instance, your name, location and headline will be the three visible bits.

Only if your name is Joe Kickass and you are based in a cool place like Trollhattan or Xanadu would people click on your profile. Us normal mortals will have to craft a compelling headline to suck people in.

How do most folks get the LinkedIn headline wrong?

It’s actually very easy to get this wrong, LinkedIn aren’t doing a sterling job at encouraging people to brand themselves (in spite of their recent drives). If you don’t change your headline manually, it will default to your job title and company. Sometimes your job title is self-explanatory but more often it isn’t.

Don’t do this

A bad example would be Consultant at Smith & Smith – consultant can mean anything from kettle engineer to project director. Other variations are Founder (do they still work in the business?) Partner (silent or active?) and Manager (of what?). Smith & Smith is not a household brand and you can’t deduce what they do, this is a typical problem for consultancies, lawyers, accountants and other professional services. All I would think is that they do sound a bit like funeral directors, especially if they add “& Son” at the end.

This is alright

A decent example would be Life Insurance Broker at AIG Insurance – we can pretty much guess what this person does and what they sell. We also recognize the brand in AIG, in spite of recent problems (all publicity is good publicity huh!). What we don’t know is who the target audience is, could be individuals and it could be corporate policies.

How to really do it

The best example would be where you manually go in and change the headline to a marketing phrase that is relevant to your target audience. If you have a personal brand statement you’ll want to use it here. Helping Farmers Sell Truckloads of Turnips is a good start which can be ever more targeted. Helping British Farmers Sell Truckloads of Class I Turnips is even better. By reading this we instantly know what the person does, whom they do it for and that they have at least some sense of humor.

5 LinkedIn headline tips

  1. First think value proposition – how do you provide value? Be as specific as possible here and remember the old saying: “the nicher, the richer”.
  2. Think target audience – whom do you provide value for and who will read this? It’s not always the end customer that is the decision maker.
  3. Unique selling point – you are likely to be stacked up against your competitors and you had better have your USP in the headline already to stand out.
  4. Now think keywords, pepper your headline with the keywords that you think people will do searches for. The more technical terms here the better (software, standards, certifications etc).
  5. Finally, think memorable. Your greatest challenge online is to be remembered so be creative and/or funny so that your headline sticks with the people that matter.

Sounds great, how do I change my headline?

Simples! You login to LinkedIn, click on My Profile / Edit and Headline – change it. You only have 120 characters so you have to be somewhat concise.

Your turn

What’s your LinkedIn headline? Please share it here!

Related: How Being ‘Creative’ on LinkedIn Won’t Do You Any Favours.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=820985480 Christian Guthier

    How about this?

    Marketing designer for your integrated communications

    • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

      That’s good, says what value you provide and a bit on how you do it. Can you be more specific in terms of industry you think? E.g. “Marketing designer delivering integrated communications to blue chip financial services companies”.

      • Rekhaphulwani

        Hey Jon,
           I am a computer Engineer and have analytically helped in improving existing modules to increase the efficiency of different departments. I am currently pursuing MIB and I would want my title to show up my Business acumen, technological background and experience. Can you please suggest me . I am currently thinking of the following “Computer Engineer involved in/experienced in technologically improving Business processes to enhance efficieny”

        • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

          I think that’s a very good start, could you perhaps define what industry you are in as well? Business Processes in… pharmaceutical IT for instance

  • Michael Bense

    Really enjoyed this post, Jorgen. Very useful, and humorous too ;-)

    • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

      Cheers Michael, I tend to throw in some jokes when I get really bored of writing!

  • http://edwinaowenselliott.com/ Edwina @FASHION+ART

    Good post Jorgen!! Time to rethink the headline…

    • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

      Good luck and please report back what you end up with!

  • Jan willem den oudsten

    Thanks Jorgen, here is my New Headline:

    ‘Solving tomorrows problems better starts today’

    jan willem den oudsten

    • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

      I would go for: “Solving Tomorrow’s Problems Today”, or “Solving Tomorrow’s Problems by Creating Solutions Today”

  • http://bfarrell.com Brian Farrell

    Jorgen — what’s your opinion on the mini-elevator speech (ex. “Helping lawyers and professional service providers find, attract and convert more prospects into clients.”) vs. those that include core compencies (ex. “Internet & Social Marketing Strategist :: Leadership, Personal Branding and Self Development Coaching”). Both of these are either current or former headlines on my personal profile.

    • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

      Hi Brian, I’m definitely in favor of the former which is focused on the WIIFM. Sometimes it’s hard to get all your value creation into one nice phrase and that’s when the multi-branded approach is better, e.g. Ice Cream Salesman // Flower Shop Attendant // Stamp Stock Broker. So it depends on your situation really, the more focused your brand is the easier it is to come up with that marketing phrase or mini-elevator speech as you say.

  • http://twitter.com/ed_han ed han

    Jorgen, this is fantastic! I keep telling people, the headline is a billboard that goes next to your name every time your name pops up on LinkedIn. Its importance cannot possibly be overstated.

    And of course, excellent treatment of the subject!

    • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

      Thanks for the feedback Ed – your wisdom is always greatly appreciated!

  • kimbagreen

    My headline:

    IT Training Manager looking to improve your company’s training department or training contract.

    Jorgen, really enjoyed your post! Good reminder to everyone to take a look at your headline and see what it says about you.

    • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

      Nice one Kim and thanks for the feedback!

  • Sunshined

    Headlines are great and some of them catch my attention.
    I really like to read the summary first.

    • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

      Yes summaries are more comprehensive but also longer and take a bit of time to go through if you’re looking at a number of profiles.

  • John T.

    I like this, Jorgen. You’re right: people should not be afraid to share some personality on LinkedIn. As Samuel Jackson said in Pulp Fiction, “Personality goes a long way.” He said some other things, too, that I can’t include here….

    • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

      Cheers John! Wonder how the LinkedIn profile of Sam Jackson’s character in Pulp Fiction would look… Probably peppered with bible quotes and stuff :-)

  • Johnhsoriano

    This is great Jorgen. As someone new to the professional world I have come to realize that personal branding is key. I did not realize that doing something as simple as changing your LinkedIn headline can increase the chances of your page being viewed. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/KaySpurlock Kaylissa Spurlock

    I’m a student graduating with a degree in communication.  I was thinking about “Creative Services Consultant passionate about helping small businesses make their goals reality.”

    • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

      It’s good, a bit long perhaps. How about:

      Helping Small Businesses Achieve Results through Creative Consulting [insert more specifics here]

  • Ashley

    Hey Jon. I’m a recent college graduate and I am hoping to transition
    from a student art historian to an active administrator or dealer in the
    commercial art world in the future. Right now I intern at local
    galleries. Also as a classically trained singer, I pick up gigs in
    weddings and churches on weekends as well. Two questions: should the latter
    experience appear in expertise; is it recommended to prioritize my profession in my header? And how about this for my header?
    Emerging Fine Arts Professional.

    • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

      Hi Ashley
      The statement is all about what you do, not who you are. Basically not your job title but how you provide value for your target audience. Emerging Fine Arts Professional is good, I would probably add … with experience of Art History & Commercial Art for instance, it just makes you look more rounded as an invividual.
      Hope that helps!
      Jorgen (and who’s this Jon btw :-))

  • http://twitter.com/intchallenge Mark Smith

    Great article – I’ve always put a lot of work into Linkedin, but this is something I’d not really paid enough attention to. Great writing in the article

    • Jorgen Sundberg

      Thanks for the feedback Mark, very kind of you!

  • Lauren

    Great article, thank you! I have now come up with two taglines and am confused on which approach is most effective. would love your feedback. I also feel like these two may be too long – one is 199 characters and the other is 120 exactly :)  As background, I work in Alumni Relations at HBS and I assist 100+ Alumni Clubs around the world that are all managed locally by alumni volunters. Some of these clubs are focused on business industries – Green Business, Technology, Healthcare, etc.

    #1
    Helping Harvard MBA volunteers manage their Alumni club constituencies one major city (and business industry) at a time!
    #2
    Top Tier Ivy League MBA Alumni Relations Professional – Creating value to Clubs through Technology, Programs and Events

  • mryap

    My Linkedin profile initially was Certified Usability Analyst, Web Analytics at mryap.com which might not make any sense for some. 

    Imagine people ask you “What is Certified Usability Analyst?”Thanks to your post, I re-wrote it to “Helping organisation optimise, improve website & online marketing effort with Web Analytics & Usability Testing.”

    Verdict is still out there whether this work but it tell people what I can do for them.

  • http://twitter.com/Qudimat Aboud Qudimat

    You mentioned that we should have our headline reflect what we do, and not who we are. What about for the recent grads, entry-levels and career transitioners, should they reflect their headlines to something they want to do in the immediate future, or over the long term?

    For example,
    In the short-term, I’d like have a startup or work for a startup. I don’t know in what though, but fire is in the stomach.

    In the long-term, I’d like to further my academic credentials and break into the space/defense industry. 

    The short-term’s headline might turn out to be vague, while I can put the long-term headline into something specific.

    If nothing works, I may just go with “Corrupt Chemist in Columbia Successful in Synthesizing Kilograms of Cocaine”

    • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

      Hi Aboud, this is definitely an issue when you’re not exactly sure what path you will take. I would aim for the short-term objective in your headline as companies (start-ups and others) hire with a 1-3 year plan for you. Beyond this it’s really up to yourself to shape your career.

      How about:

      “Looking for a Challenge in a Tech Start-Up in Location X, Will Contribute X, Y & Z”

      Good fall back plan btw :-)

      • Aboud

        Thanks Jorgen!

  • krissy

    I’m completely new to Linkedin and I have a short question.

    A have a pretty wide experience/education and consider myself more or less versatile. I’ve been working full-time as a personal-trainer the last years, but now want to try to change line of business; should I put “looking for new career directions” in my heading or is it more suitable elsewhere? Very grateful for suggestions :)

  • Sam Stage

    What do others think of this headline:
    “Build and retain new business with this Project Manager who can Sell”

  • Victoria Heydt

    Hi Jorgen, wonderful article!  I agree with one of the previous commentators, I have put a lot of time into the substance of LinkedIn, but never really the headline.   Sad, but true. 

    I’m currently unemployed and looking to transition from a history of Customer Service experience to an entry-level position in either the Art/Creative field (i.e. Marketing, Art Auctions, etc) or Investigative Services.   Yes, you read that correctly.  I know that they are two completely different spheres, however they are equally fascinating to me.

    Currently my headline reads something to the affect of  “Seeking a Position in Marketing and Communications.”

    I would like to change it to give a better grasp as to what I’m looking for and what I have to offer, but I’m not entirely certain how to go about it.  What say you to the possibility of  “Looking for a Challenge in Marketing  or Investigative Services” ?

    If this fails, I may just go with “Bionic Wonder Woman Successful at Saucy Artwork”    
     

    • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

      Hi Victoria

      People in similar situations tend to put somehting like you proposed, perhaps ‘Exploring Senior Marketing and Investigative Services Opportunities in the Bay Area”.

      So put level of seniority you’re looking for, keywords (if applicable), location and just mention opportunities – this way you could get freelance work as well.

      And the back up headline would work too actually, it’s certainly memorable and shows off personality!

      Cheers
      Jorgen

  • Kevinjgottlieb

    Thanks for the help! Didn’t realize how crucial the headline was. Changed it to: 

    May 2012 Business Grad | Aspiring Sports Marketing Pro | Social Media Enthusiast | 2011 Under Armour Ultimate Intern

    • http://jorgensundberg.net Jorgen Sundberg

      Good stuff Kevin, hope it will do wonders for you!

  • Joshua Maeir

    Jorgen,

    Thank you, thank you for your very insightful points.
    I’ve changed my title from

    Agile and Creative Senior Software Engineer (C++, Java, and .NET)

    to

    Agile and Creative Software Engineer, looking to excite your customers with the quality and simplicity of your product! | Networking LION

    How does that sound?

  • Lexia

    Hi Jorgen, 

    I’ve been aware that a headline should be like a mini elevator pitch. I’m looking to make a career change from promotions within hospitality to working as an estimator within the construction industry. Have found myself torn between the following two headlines.

    “Worried about lack of
    estimators? Let me help you fill your skills shortage gap. Potential Cadet
    Building Estimator”

    and

    “Seeking a cadetship. I can calculate, provide excellent communication
    and logic. Potential Cadet Building Estimator”.

    The first one is aimed at the skills gap shortage of estimators to try and play on potential employees fears. The second one tells them what I want and what I can offer (skills highly regarded in estimating). Any suggestions or ideas would be fantastic.

    Lexia

  • Sel

    Thank you for this thoughtful post. My headline at the moment is very simple (it says “Attorney”) but I would like to change it to something more meaningful as you suggested. My dilemma is that I have been unemployed since I graduated from law school (approx 2 years) and don’t really have a specialization. Mostly, in these two years, I’ve volunteered with pro bono legal clinics. Ideally, I’m most interested in a permanent position practicing immigration law but I’m up for anything at this point.

    I’ve thought about “Pro Bono Attorney” as a headline but I don’t want people to get the idea that I want to remain in legal aid forever. I’ve also thought about “Aspiring Immigration Attorney” but I’m applying to a lot of positions that aren’t immigration law-oriented and don’t want employers to find my LinkedIn profile and get turned off. I’ve also thought about the headline “Volunteer Attorney seeking opportunities in _____, ______, and _____” and then list a few other areas that I’d be willing to work in, addition to immigration.

    Any suggestions?

  • Tcb1250

    Would love your input! Headline currently reads: Student in Business Management.
    I’ve graduated and now career searching. Not looking for entry level as I have experience in Management, Advertising, Sales and Marketing. Should I put Sales, Marketing, Management Professional? Too vague and uninspiring, right?

  • http://www.afmarcom.com/ Angelique

    What advice would you give to some whose headline is currently “Product Marketing Manager at [famous company]“? Should something be added to that?

    • Elaine Marshall

      I’d make it about YOU. They will see the company in your profile. I’d make the headline about why they should connect with you, what you are an expert in and why they should know you. My 2 cents.

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  • rsnavin

    Hi Jorgen,

    I am an auditor with vast leadership experience (although I have only been working for 3 years professionally, but I’ve done heaps during Uni). I am trying to break into Management consulting. What do you think would be a good headline? I love challenges and coming out with solutions. On another note, I do have many people in my current company on LinkedIn, including HR people, so might want to keep it slightly subtle. I was thinking of:

    Experienced people-oriented leader looking to make a difference.
    Your thoughts? Thank you.

  • Winston Owen

    Good, thank you. Food for thought and insightful. I probably should get your monthly newsletter

  • Ajay

    Hi Jorgen – Nice article which provides a great perspective on one of the most important parts of one’s profile.

    I have been sporting the following headline for some time now. Welcome your views;
    ‘Senior global business executive, Technology trends thought leader, Social Media exponent, Blogger, Coach & Mentor.’

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  • http://www.facebook.com/philipthesupergreat Philip Liang

    Mine is:
    University of Chicago student seeking jobs and internships
    Input please :)

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  • Paola

    HI Jorgen, great article! What you recommend for someone completely changing careers, from training and development to opening their own cafe? Cafe has still not opened, will take another semester (fingers crossed) hopefully.

  • Julia

    Hi, I’ve been unemployed for a year (in which i went back to studying) and i need your advice on the best headline to use. Should I relate it to the exact position i occupied before & my experience in the educational service industry? I now intend to pursue in this career, so how about the following: “Business Development Assistant, passionate about creating new (business) opportunities in the education and training industry”. Thanks.

  • yewande Akinbobola

    Hi Jorgen,

    I enjoy reading your post, it’s a great eye-opener. I think it will help bring
    attention to what i really want to do as opposed to headlining me with my old
    position. I work as an Accounting staff / Assistant but I’m a certified project
    manager looking for a break really. But I think sometimes, the headlines set
    the recruiters back because it’s saying something totally unrelated to what I’ve
    applied or qualified for. So thanks again, I’ve just changed my headline to
    this “Certified Project Manager looking to bring Excellence, Productivity,
    and Enhancements to your Project Team.”

    What do you think?

    Thank you again for your article, really helped

  • Yewande Akin

    Hi Jorgen,

    I enjoy reading your post, it’s a great eye-opener. I think it will help bring
    attention to what i really want to do as opposed to headlining me with my old
    position. I work as an Accounting staff / Assistant but I’m a certified project
    manager looking for a break really. But I think sometimes, the headlines set
    the recruiters back because it’s saying something totally unrelated to what I’ve
    applied or qualified for. So thanks again, I’ve just changed my headline to
    this “Certified Project Manager looking to bring Excellence, Productivity,
    and Enhancements to your Project Team.”

    What do you think?

    Thank you again for your article, really helped

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  • Elaine Marshall

    I’ve changed mine from Founder @EmpoweredPR
    to:
    Knows secrets to becoming top-of-mind in an attention-deficit society. Founder @ EmpoweredPR. Publicity maven.

  • Elaine Marshall

    See Philip’s post above: University of Chicago student seeking jobs and internships. Something clear and concise is good.

  • http://www.facebook.com/estrellas9999 Andrea Bm

    What do you think?

    Looking for a Challenge in the Hotel industry | Aspiring to create the new hotel experience | Marketing Enthusiastic

  • ankur gupta

    Hi Jorgen,

    i have changed my headline from solution integrator at Ercisson to BMC Remedy Developer | Oracle Developer at ericsson , Could you please suggest me that is this looks fine or needs change..

    thanks ,

    Ankur

  • JessicaMoyer

    Jorgen,
    I recently came across your article because I was looking to improve my Linkedin, but also because I was thinking that more creative email subjects would create more responses to job applications.
    I graduated 4 years ago with a degree in AD/PR with a minor in Marketing. I have since mostly worked in marketing, but I can’t seem to lose that assistant title! I have faith in my work, but have never really been in a manager role even though my past 2 jobs I was running the department. What title could I use to attract attention and be considered for a manager role? I know I can live up to the challange if I were given the opportunity to, but I need someone to take that chance. I also do not want to give the impression that I know all there is to know about marketing, but I am hard working and willing to learn!
    Any advice?

  • Injynqbs

    I feel that i am having the opposite problem. I have many skills that I would like to outline but can’t figure out how to collectively list so. My degree will be music education (though my target is more of being an independent instructor to build as a studio instead of public schools) I am also a performing musician. A majority of the jobs I have taken seem to be sales (though I’m not really trying to target for another sales position). My newest headline reads “The next best thing in successfully producing fast and various quality results since the launch of the internet.” thanks, Jorgen.

  • angelo

    Very easy and fun read. Thank you. I just changed mine to
    Creative and Driven Marketing Manager

    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mastrangelo-mendez/5/75a/921

  • http://www.ncwiseman.com/ Teddy Burriss

    I agree fully, a well crafted, value prop headline is the best option. I struggle with this myself; however when I stopped thinking about myself and more about the people I serve, the headline ideas changed. Thanks for sharing – Teddy Burriss – Your Social Networking Consultant |Public Speaker | Author – http://www.linkedIn.com/in/TLBurriss.

  • George Cole

    I was an operation manager at Xerox peroviding excellent customer service to several fortune 500 companies. I enjoy working with customer and seeking a position as a hotel front desk hospiality manager. I am trying to understand how can I brand or market myself. Looking for a headline that will say you are hire!!

  • http://www.jamesmarquezblog.com/ James Marquez

    Thanks for your help. I wasn’t utilizing all the characters given to me. I changed my headline to “Management Program Analyst / Web Developer – Analyzing the aircraft maintenance management program for two aircraft MDSs”

  • http://YourNextSolutionist.com/ Jinisha B.

    Hi Roberta

    I know your comment is ancient as well. Let me know if you are still looking to leverage your LinkedIn profile to upgrade your job. http://www.YourNextSolutionist.com

    The answer to your specific question is “quite the opposite of saying – HIRE ME”. Everybody says “HIRE ME” but the truth is nobody will pay attention to you if you are simply asking for a job. The idea is to find your niche, your brand statement to catch your target audience’s attention. Getting them to view your profile is half the battle. The next step is to look like the exact solution to their problem – by looking busy and genuinely helpful. Recommendations will be a nice touch.

    If you are trying to come up with a catchy headline or personal slogan to get more click, feel free to connect with me. I’ll do what I can :)
    Jinisha@YourNextSolutionist.com

  • barbara

    I am a 2013 graduate (master of science in Health Informatics). I need a profile to reflect a career changer from adult education teacher ( 19 years) to a professional specializing in Health Informatics. My target jobs Data Analyst, Market Analyst, or Business System Analyst.

  • Rinim Baruah

    Hello Jorgen,

    I have been following your instructions for quite a while now. I did change my headline many times, but did not gain much attention. I am an engineer with over 3 years of professional experience. I did my Masters in a different area in Engineering not related to my work experience. How do I sell myself as of now I’m trying to secure a job based on my masters degree and at the same time mention my experience?

  • Bil Howard

    My new headline

    Providing a Haunting Presence on the Web|Ghostwriter: Alternative Health & SEO|Historical Fiction Novelist

  • Sheena Dean

    I am new to LinkedIn, and feel as if I just jumped into the middle of the ocean- alone…What kind of headline is appropriate, and catchy since I don’t have a specific professional trade, but I majored in theatre in college (5 years ago) and have only had random jobs so far…?