I used to write between 3 and 9 LinkedIn profiles every week, and I noticed a pattern. Bad LinkedIn headlines come in a few flavors. The first is what I call a transformer headline. They take three perfectly good headlines and merge them into one trying to make the ultimate LinkedIn headline. That doesn’t work, by the way. The second kind I see is something very creative. Here’s the catch. No one searches their unique and innovative phrase, so they never get traffic.
The third one is something new that I just saw in the last few weeks. Someone put their wedding registry in their headline. I wish I were making this up.
Yes, I have a screenshot of this LinkedIn headline I speak of.
I’m all for sharing important personal milestones on LinkedIn. It makes you more human, and people can get to know you differently. They celebrate with you, and that’s special. That’s not what this is.
A LinkedIn Profile Headline to Inspire Your Own
There is a right way to do this. Based on your career goals, not your grill gift goals, my most-of-the-time answer is that you should use a keyword-centric headline to get the most traffic. In most scenarios, that headline is the job title you want, i.e., Director of Marketing. Trainer. Talent Director. Whatever it is, you want to use the one job title that gets the most searches. Enter a few alternatives into Google Trends to see which of your titles are searched most often.
Here’s why you test. Director of Marketing gets more searches than Marketing Director. HR Business Partner gets fewer searches than Human Resources Business Partner. Not everyone searches the titles you do. Make sure you know the nuance to get the most traffic.
Consider these scenarios and three additional styles for your LinkedIn headline if you’re not in an active job search.
- Consultants. If your goal is to convert more contacts into clients using LinkedIn, try a simple sentence that tells people what you do. For example: I help ____ do _____. If I took this approach, I might say: I help recruiters learn to write job postings.
- Trophy. If you’re someone in the public eye and frequently listed in press releases, share success and awards in your profile. Something like this: Helped build one of Austin’s biggest software teams | Inc. Fastest Growing 50 | Austin Award for Business Excellence
- Mission matters. If you’re solving a problem that people passionately support, tell that story in your headline.
Update your headline any time you have big announcements in your life or want to drive views. Don’t post your Christmas wish-list or a status update style message about fighting with your partner, ok? This isn’t Facebook.
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Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.