It’s tough to reduce your skills, experience, and ambitions into a few words in any context, and a LinkedIn headline is no exception. It’s no wonder many users lean on the platform's default option, but a well-crafted headline can help you stand out in 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
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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 pen to paper. A LinkedIn headline should describe what you do, why someone should connect with you, and how you can help them. Utilizing specific keywords in your headline will make you more attractive to prospects.
This is why you should always customize your LinkedIn headline, as it's 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.
It's also 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:
X represents your ideal prospect, and Y is their ideal outcome or state of mind after connecting with you.
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. On the other hand, your prospects 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. 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 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. You might go with:
"Sales Associate: Saving companies time and money with automated expense reports."
Not sure how to describe your value? You can 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 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 knew 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 can be challenging 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 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 profile is a blank canvas to be filled with everything that makes you great. Ensure 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. 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, 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 and 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. "Product Marketing @ HubSpot | UC Berkeley Haas Accelerated Access Admit | Director @ Out4Undergrad"
Why do we like it? Separators make the headline digestible.
Don’t shy away from adding multiple experiences and qualifications to your headline and using separators — as long as the content in your headline conveys 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 details the value they provide to the manager and the manager's employees.
5. "People Operations Leader & Global Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) / Mogul Top 100 DEI Leaders / Jumpstart 100 Remarkable Women in HR."
Why we like it? Recognitions and awards vouch for skill set.
Celeste Narganes' LinkedIn headline includes recognitions and awards from notable businesses that vouch for her qualifications, skillset, and abilities, letting LinkedIn users know that her skills are bound to help you meet your goals.
6. "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 drives them to do their work in a headline like this. By giving a quick picture of what the user hopes to achieve through their work, they can establish themselves as a dedicated, credible authority in their 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.
8. "Ecosystem Builder, Partnership Expert, Business Development Enthusiast, Startup Founder, with 11 Years Management Experience."
Why do we like it? It gives a snapshot of expertise.
Their headline tells people their exact skills and level of expertise, highlighting the value they can provide to help prospects succeed and the exact type of help they can bring you.
Why do we like it? It's simple and to the point.
With a clear and concise headline, this individual lets people know exactly what they do and how they contribute to their company and customers' success.
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.
11. "I bridge the gap between students and networking | Ex-Intern @ Salesforce | CS @ UTD | Seeking New Grad PM/SWE roles."
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 personal drive.
12. "🧑🚀 International Product Marketing & Storytelling Lead 🧡 HubSpot | All thing CRM | 🎙 Creators of the Metaverse Podcast | Web3 & NFTs | Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging | 📘 Author: Content Design | 🌱 Sustainability"
Why we like it?
You don’t have to shy away from using an emoji as a separator — as long as the rest of the headline relies on words to convey what you do well. Ben Harmanus uses emojis as separators in his headline, and also makes sure they’re related to what they’re in front of.
13. "International Business Development Consultant, Entrepreneur, Humanitarian & Global Goodwill Ambassador."
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.
14. "Everyone's favorite Tech Recruiter | I talk about recruiting and hiring | Nerd at heart | Samwise Gamgee to your Frodo Baggins in recruiting |"
Why do we like it? It shows personality while remaining professional.
You can add personality to your LinkedIn headline and still be a prominent voice in your industry. This headline is humorous and cheery and clearly conveys the individual's field of expertise as well as a pop of personality to get more insight into their likes and interests.
Why we like it? It touches on a trending topic.
The future of work, whether remote, hybrid, or flexible model, is a hot and buzzy topic. Tony Jamous’s LinkedIn headline lets us know that he's ready and eager to engage with that topic, helping others with similar interests know he’s interested in sparking conversation.
16. "Helping digital & web3 brands add a local touch to their global journey | Localization consultant | Translator specialized in IT, mobile apps, websites, web3”
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.
17. "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 to convey your work's goal is brilliant; this one paints a clear picture of that.
Why do we like it? It's humorous and professional.
Connor Kunz’s LinkedIn headline begins with exact qualifications and current career status, followed by a personal fact to build relatability and inspire someone to make an intro on a shared fun fact.
Why do we like it? It includes a clear CTA.
A LinkedIn headline that uses a high-impact CTA that invites people to take the next step in diagnosing an issue and learning more about optimizing their email marketing practices.
Why do we like it? It incorporates brand messaging.
This headline provides a glimpse of HubSpot's customer code, "Grow Better", which highlights the value they can provide to help prospects succeed.
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.