Increase views: Ditch the default LinkedIn headline

Photo courtesy of A Name Like Shields Can Make You Defensive from Flickr open source.
Photo courtesy of A Name Like Shields Can Make You Defensive from Flickr open source.

When was the last time you put any serious thought into your LinkedIn headline? The headline appears below your name, and it is automatically generated when you fill in your job title. This is referred to as a default headline, and it can be edited.  A headline is one of the very first items anyone viewing your LinkedIn profile will see. Moreover, it is one of the most important pieces of information prospective recruiters and connections will view before digging into the meat of your profile. Changing your default headline to reflect and re-enforce your personal branding will greatly aid your job search. (These tips can also be applied to your résumé headline.)

In my recent post, “Use Keywords With Care or Beware” I discussed the importance of not dumping keywords into a résumé or LinkedIn profile. These tactics may seem like a good way to rise to the top of search results, but they often backfire for the job seeker. In this post I want you to learn how to refer to yourself in your LinkedIn headline when your job title has many variations.

Your headline should depict the function or role of your job, instead of being just a title.

Ditch the vague titles that say very little about you or your role. Employers want to quickly see how you’ll fit into their organization, and unclear titles don’t make that task any easier. I’ll start with a few examples of the types of headlines you should be avoiding.

Account Manager: This title can mean different things to different organizations. It can be a business development role or a customer service role.

Engineer: This is an industry-specific and role-specific job and is a must-have part of your title. You will have to include modifiers such as “electrical engineer,” “technical engineer,” or “architectural engineer” to help describe what you do. Otherwise, this title is extremely vague.

Analyst: This is also an industry-specific and role-specific job. Again, you will need to use those modifiers such as “computer systems analyst,” “business analyst,” or “IT business analyst,” depending on your actual role.

Project Manager: Like an account manager, this title has different meanings to different organizations. Specify the types of projects you specialize in, or else you’ll leave potential recruiters and connections confused about what it is you actually do.

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Here are a few examples of these headlines in use:

“PMP-certified project manager: Known for successfully leading multi-million dollar projects in developing countries.” – This is a pretty vague headline, and I can’t tell if this person is an IT project manager or not.

“Information Technology Manager: Customer focused IT Leader who has mastered the latest technology.” –This is a prime example of a cliché-filled headline that turns employers off.

Using descriptors such as “results-driven,” “experienced,” “customer focused,” “dynamic,” or “team-oriented” may seem like a good tactic, but they are ultimately meaningless. These words have lost much of their impact on employers, because they are so overused. Remember, you want to distinguish yourself among the crowd of job seekers.

A role should be listed in action terms that can be visualized in order to maximize its effectiveness.

A title is just a designation and by its very nature can be vague. A role is descriptive and can relay a person’s function within a company. Your headlines should describe your role and demonstrate your qualities. Try picking action verbs, adjectives, or nouns that add a visual component such as “Obstacle obliterator” or “Profit prophet.” Using action terms will intrigue and entice anyone who comes across your LinkedIn headline.

Here are a few examples of good headlines:

“COO * Need a change agent? Propel turnarounds and fast growth * Foster leadership to achieve greatness in results”

These headlines give a summary of experience and help a recruiter visualize a job seeker’s role. They also convey personal brand while helping to establish a trend. Notice these headlines also include some of the IT keywords Greg Lachs listed in his LinkedIn post. It is important to include keywords along with a highly descriptive professional headline. Doing so is one of the very best ways depict your job title and stand above the majority of job seekers on LinkedIn.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Keyword searching for opportunities should occupy less than 10% of the time allocated to your job search. So, what are you doing with 90% of your time?

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