By Brenda Bernstein
The Essay Expert
Many people are flummoxed when it comes to choosing a LinkedIn profile headline. What keywords should they include? How do you get that up and down symbol ( | )? (Hit shift and the backslash key.) Is it more important to have keywords or a Tagline / Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
This article will mainly address the last question: Keywords or USP? The answer to the question depends on your main goal with your LinkedIn profile.
Below you will find several situations you might be in. Find yourself as closely as possible and handle your headline in the most appropriate way for your situation. If you don’t find yourself exactly, find the nearest match and adjust from there.
1. You are a job seeker and you want to be found in searches.*
If you are a job seeker, your main goal is probably to be found and contacted by recruiters and hiring managers. If so, you need to focus on keywords in your headline. Keywords are the terms a recruiter would be searching for if looking for someone like you.
The prevailing wisdom is to choose 4-5 words as keywords and leave it at that. Adding extra words or extra characters like your email address may serve to dilute the effectiveness of your headline.
Examples of good headlines are:
Manufacturing & Supply Chain Executive | Asia
Procurement & Contract Specialist | Treasury Manager
Account Executive | OEM Sales | Field Sales | Territory Manager
Director Communications | Branding | Online Marketing | Social Media
Note these headlines zero in on the most essential keywords and do not add any fluff to dilute their impact.
Some job seekers write “Open to New Opportunities” in their headline. Some recruiters actually search on the term “opportunities” and might find you that way. Other recruiters will skip over you if you put that phrase in your headline. My advice is to try it one way, and if you’re not getting the attention you want, try it another way. That’s the beauty of social media… nothing is ever engraved in stone.
2. You are a job seeker and your main goal is to look good when people find you.
Perhaps you are currently employed and doing a very selective and confidential job search. Or perhaps you want people to look for you primarily after you have contacted them. If so, you may not particularly be looking to be found in searches. In this situation, you have more flexibility when crafting your headline. I recommend that you write your job title and a catchy phrase, tagline, or Unique Selling Proposition.
High-Powered Financial and Analytical Trainer | Propelling International Business Teams to the Top
Program, Process and Project Manager | Creating and Implementing Innovative Technological Solutions
Managed Care Professional | Building relationships with attention and integrity
3. You are a business owner or professional and you want people to find you.*
If you are a business owner or professional wanting to attract clients, stack your headline with the keywords your clients would be searching on. My headline says:
Essay & Resume Writer | Executive Resumes | Personal Statements | LinkedIn Profiles | Web Copy
The result of having these keywords in my headline (and also in my summary, specialties and job titles) is that many people find me when they are seeking the services I provide.
During admission season I change my keywords to emphasize college essays and MBA Admissions consulting.
Change your keywords as much as you want until you get the number of visitors to your site each day that you’re looking for.
4. You are a business owner or professional and you just want to build a close network of solid business connections.
If you are laying low on LinkedIn and selectively building a network, really all you need is your job title and organization. LinkedIn will take care of that for you.
*NOTE TO THOSE IN CATEGORIES 1 & 3: Remember that the number of hits you get on your LinkedIn profile will always increase when you increase your number of connections.
BEWARE of the LinkedIn Default! If you update your current job position, LinkedIn automatically changes your headline unless you catch the box that lets you opt out. If this happens, take control and change your headline if you want it to say something different! Like so many things, there is no “one size fits all” answer to the LinkedIn Headline question.