It's tough to reduce your skills, ambitions, and experiences into a few words in any context — and LinkedIn headlines are no exception. So it's no wonder that most users lean on the platform's default option of their current job title. But a well-crafted LinkedIn headline can help you stand out from a "sea of same" and grab prospects' and recruiters' attention.
Here, we'll review what makes an exceptional LinkedIn headline, go over how to change yours, and see some particularly solid examples.
What is a headline on LinkedIn?
A LinkedIn headline is the section at the top of a LinkedIn user's profile where they describe what they do in 220 characters or less. This brief description appears next to the user's name in search results. It should entice readers to click the profile to learn more about the user's experience and background.
If you think about it, your headline is:
- The first line LinkedIn users see on your profile
- An opportunity to show the world what you’re capable of and what you do
- Someone’s first impression of you as they scroll through LinkedIn
Letting LinkedIn choose your headline for you is a mistake. With a customized headline, you'll instantly distinguish yourself, give prospects and recruiters a reason to view your profile, and start building the case for your product. Remember a LinkedIn headline explains the value you’ll deliver as a future employee. You'd say that pay-off is worth the effort, right?
Some tips when it comes to your headline:
- Show your value proposition; What you’re known for or good at
- Set yourself apart from other users in the same profession
- Make sure your headline is accompanied by (and I cannot stress this enough) a well-lit and quality profile picture
What should my LinkedIn headline say?
Now that you know what a LinkedIn headline is and why a custom one is the best choice, it's time to put pad to paper. A LinkedIn headline should describe what you, why they should connect with you, and how you can help them help you. By utilizing specific keywords in your headline, it will make you more attractive to LinkedIn prospects.
This is why you should always customize your LinkedIN headline. A LinkedIn headline is 46% more important to LinkedIn prospects than your experience. Your LinkedIN headline sets up the rest of your profile to be visited more in depth. Your LinkedIn headline is the most visible part of your profile; there’s a reason it’s shown in the snippet while prospects browse through potential candidates. By identifying your fields keywords on LinkedIn, it will give you an advantage while writing your headline. Remember your headline should be tailored to your audience and also use the language of your prospects.
To make writing your headline easier, here's a simple formula:
In this formula, X represents your ideal prospect, and Y will be their ideal outcome or state of mind after using the services you're selling.
But how do you come up with the right wording for each of these elements? Read our four tips for writing the perfect headline.
How to Write a LinkedIn Headline
A good LinkedIn headline follows four best practices: Tailor it to your audience, include your value proposition, use your prospect's language, and be accurate and honest.
1. Tailor it to your audience.
SDR, BDR, account representative, client advisor — if you work in sales, you're probably familiar with these titles. Your prospects, on the other hand, typically have no idea that these are all code for "sales professional."
When you're prospecting on LinkedIn, using a job title that throws prospects off the sales scent is confusing at best. At worst? It'll make your prospects trust you less. After all, if you look like a sales rep, talk like a sales rep, and act like a sales rep, why are you going by "account growth manager?”
There's an easy fix — use a title your prospects will recognize. Those kinds of terms could include:
- Sales Representative
- Sales Associate
- Sales Manager
- Sales Director
As a bonus, including "sales" in your LinkedIn headline will also make it easier for prospects to find you. People researching your product are more likely to click on your profile if they can tell you're a salesperson — rather than a random employee.
The same goes for recruiters — if they're looking for a rep in a specific industry or vertical, using the most common version of your title lets them easily track you down.
2. Include your value proposition.
Of course, simply calling yourself a salesperson would be pretty boring — plus, it doesn't communicate the value you add. Use the next part of your LinkedIn headline to describe how you improve your customers' lives.
For instance, say you sell a mobile IT solution that enables IT professionals to manage their infrastructure on the go. Your headline could be:
"Sales Representative: Helping IT professionals provide support anytime, anywhere."
Or maybe you sell automated expense tracking software. In that case, you might go with:
"Sales Associate: Saving companies time and money with automated expense reports."
Not sure how to describe your value? You can usually adapt it from your company's value proposition. Alternatively, try browsing through your company's customer testimonials for inspiration.
3. Use your prospect's language.
When you're creating your headline, watch out for company, industry, or role-specific jargon your prospects won't know. It doesn't matter how compelling your description is if potential customers don't understand half the words.
To give you an idea, while researching this piece I found a rep with the headline: "Our ground-breaking PaaS integrates and abstracts underlying Hadoop technologies."
I asked a potential buyer if he had any idea what this meant, and he said no. But when I rewrote it in simpler terms — "Our software helps developers easily and quickly manage their big data apps" — he immediately said, "Oh yeah, sounds like something our team could use."
As you can see, there's a huge advantage to skipping the jargon. But thanks to the curse of knowledge, it's not always easy for you (an expert in your product or service) to gauge if buyers (often beginners) will understand the terminology in your headline.
If you're unsure, reread the first few emails from previous customers to see how they described their challenges and needs. Any words, phrases, or situations that show up, again and again, are fair game for your headline (not to mention the rest of your LinkedIn profile).
4. Avoid hyperbole.
Don't brag. There's nothing more off-putting (or less believable) than someone who publicly compliments themselves. For that reason, you'll want to strike these adjectives (and others like them) from your headline:
Even though these adjectives likely apply to you, they won't make prospects or recruiters more interested in you. On the contrary, you'll seem arrogant.
The best way to show off your skills is to include customer success stories in your summary and prior experience. Lines like "Helped an online bicycle retailer increase sales by 30%" or "On average, clients reduced support tickets by half" stand on their own without any commentary — and are far more impressive as a result.
LinkedIn Keywords List
Using the right keywords in your LinkedIn profile is the key to getting more visitors who want to hire you or work with you. Similar to a resume, you want to draw eyes to the important aspects of your experience. While a resume uses keywords tailored to a specific job posting, a LinkedIn profile uses keywords tailored to your career expertise.
Recruiters, prospects, and the like will search for keywords related to the position they want to fill. Depending on what a searcher is looking for, one profile can appear on page one while another can appear on page eight. As someone who wants to be found, the keywords you use will directly impact whether you get in front of the right prospects. Here are some specific keyword areas to focus on:
- Job Position and Experience
- Skills and Certificates
- Services or Products you offer
- Name of your degree and field of study
- General keywords related to your industry, field or expertise
It’s important to strike a balance between being concise but also broad enough to be found. For instance, instead of writing “Tech Leader” you might say, “Mobile Application Developer.” It’s specific enough to a job title yet broad enough for multiple recruiters in varying companies to find your profile.
LinkedIn Keywords for Headline
Your headline for LinkedIn is no different than your profile in terms of using the right keywords to be discovered. However, the headline is arguably the most important part of your profile — it’s what stops prospects from scrolling past your name to clicking on it. A LinkedIn headline needs to use specific keywords to explain in a few words what you do and what you provide. This is why earlier we explained that a customized headline is always better than the default LinkedIn headline.
Here’s a few formulas you can use to write the best LinkedIn headline:
- (Title) at (Company) – Helping USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
- (Title) | (Company) | (USP)
- Title + Company + benefits of working with you | keywords related to your niche | personal touch |
Using one of the formulas above will elevate your LinkedIn headline and show prospects how you can add value to them. Now that you know how to choose keywords for your LinkedIn headline, let’s discuss how to change your LinkedIn headline to get your interview and job ready.
How to Change Your LinkedIn Headline
Updating your LinkedIn headline is incredibly simple. To better show how it’s done, I’ll update my own.
Step 1: Navigate to your profile.
If you’re new to LinkedIn, your personal profile is a blank canvas to be filled with everything that makes you great. Make sure your profile picture, experience, educational background, and skills are filled in before you optimize your headline.
Step 2: Click the "edit" icon.
At the top of your profile, beneath your banner, you’ll find a grey pencil symbol — the edit icon. Click on it and it’ll open a window titled “Edit intro.”
Step 3: Select “Heading” and type in a new headline.
In the “Edit intro” window, after you have your name and pronouns added, you’ll find the “Headline” text box. Here, you’ll type in an attention-grabbing headline that accurately describes your title and goals.
Step 4: Click “Save” and you’re done!
You’ll now be able to refresh your profile and see your new LinkedIn headline. Now when recruiters look at profiles in your industry and occupation, they’ll see a headline that catches their eye immediately.
Before you begin to work on your own headline, take a look at these examples for some extra inspiration.
LinkedIn Headline Examples
1. "Lead Consultant in Soft Skills training transforming SMB & Corporate clients on African investment opportunities."
Why do we like it? It incorporates both the user's job title and professional value.
This headline is both attention-grabbing and informative. It gives recruiters and prospects a definitive picture of her position as well as perspective on the value she can offer.
Why do we like it? It features engaging language.
The word "innovating" really makes this headline pop. That kind of language can pique other users' interest and increase the likelihood that someone will click through your full LinkedIn profile to learn more.
3. "Inbound Success Coach @ HubSpot ♦ Passionate about product marketing, inclusion, & social impact"
Why do we like it? It uses emojis to make the headline more digestible.
Don’t shy away from using an emoji or two for some personalization or to act as a separator — as long as the rest of the headline relies on words to convey what you do well.
Why do we like it? It's specific.
This headline calls out exactly who the individual can help: managers. And, it provides detail into the value they provide to the manager and the manager's employees.
5. "Making it super easy to find & specify greener and healthier products for high-performance building projects — and reward manufacturers for making them”
Why do we like it? It speaks to the user's motivation.
You can get a sense of an individual’s passion and what really drives them to do their work in a headline like this. By giving a quick picture of what the user hopes to achieve through her work, she can establish herself as a dedicated, credible authority in her space.
Why do we like it? It clearly identifies what the user can do for their target audience.
This headline lets people know exactly what they can expect if they choose to work with this individual. It leans on a value proposition that's both concise and straightforward.
7. "Helping millions of startups grow better by building marketing sales and service processes that accelerate sales growth."
Why do we like it? It incorporates brand messaging.
Who are they helping? Startups. And, the headline provides a glimpse of HubSpot's customer code, "Grow Better", which highlights the value they can provide to help prospects succeed.
Why do we like it? It's airtight but still informative.
With a clear and concise headline, this individual lets people know how they'll add value to a company.
Why do we like it? It makes effective use of the word "you."
This headline takes the focus off the individual and onto their audience by including the word "you." It's also outcome-oriented (get more clients and free up time) rather than product- or sales-oriented.
10. "Bridging the gap b/w Students and Networking | Software Engineering | Product Management | Business Analysis"
Why do we like it? It uses compelling imagery.
“Bridging the gap” is a lovely introduction to this headline that shows the individual’s intent, and their personal drive.
Why do we like it? It's inspirational.
This LinkedIn headline calls out both what the individual does and the impact of their work. The call to action is inspiring for those wanting to learn more about that profession.
12. "Making hiring transparent 1 post at a time | Nerd at heart | Your friendly neighborhood Recruiter | LinkedIn Top Voice 2020"
Why do we like it? It shows personality while remaining professional.
You can add personality to your LinkedIn headline and still be seen as a prominent voice in your industry. This headline is cheery and conveys the individual’s field of expertise clearly.
13. "Taking your mobile apps and websites on a global journey: localization, SEO, translation into Polish"
Why do we like it? It speaks to potential customers' experience.
Instead of labeling their expertise only as localization, they presented how their job helps you improve the user’s experience — or journey, I should say.
14. "Strategic people leader, creating inclusive environments that empowers teams and promotes world-class experiences with technology."
Why do we like it? It's goal-oriented.
Using your headline as a way to convey the goal of your work is brilliant, this one paints a clear picture of that.
Why do we like it? It says what we're all thinking.
Haven't we all thought "This meeting could've been an email" at least once or twice this week? Connor Kunz's LinkedIn headline is humorous and down-to-earth, showing us that even the most dedicated team members could stand to skip a meeting or two.
Let Your Headline Do the Talking
The upside to crafting a perfect headline? Once you're done, you'll immediately start noticing a difference in the quantity and quality of leads you generate on LinkedIn. Social selling just got easier.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.