Too many people think their LinkedIn headline is some creativity contest. That’s just not the point. Your LinkedIn headline is supposed to help you be found and stand out when recruiters are looking for people with your talent.
Anyone who tries to sell you on creativity doesn’t get how recruiters look for candidates. While there are many tactics they can take on, most are opening up LinkedIn to search. They enter a job title, sometimes a location, and details regarding experience. Then, they press enter.
What they see next looks a little like this.
This experience is where that creative job title is going to hurt your chances of being found.
Your LinkedIn Headline Can Help You Get Found
If you don’t show up in the search results, you’re probably not going to be contacted for the role. You’re not going to show up in search results if you’re not even using the job title recruiters are looking for.
While I can’t predict exactly what each recruiter will type in, I can tell you that having the job title that accurately represents what you want in the headline will help. It doesn’t have to be your last job title. It has to capture your level of experience *and* get a ton of searches each month.
How do you know what recruiters search? Start by opening up any job board and searching the title you think you want. Write down any alternatives you see that come up. This could be changing the order of the words, adding a dash with more details, etc. Write out the 5-7 most common ones.
Picking The Right Headline: Title Trends
Now, search each of these titles with the word “resume example.” HR Manager Resume Example. Software Engineer Resume Example. Whatever it is. Click on the image search results. Voila, a ton of resumes. Use that to confirm what level your experience may qualify you for i.e. Director vs. Manager type titles.
Then, open a tool called Google Trends. Enter the first 3 job titles and compare traffic. Make sure you edit the time and location of the searches or you may just get the last day of information. Change that one to the last 12 months. Use the title that gets the most searches as your headline on LinkedIn.
Frequently Asked Questions About LinkedIn Headlines
In my webinars and trainings about writing a LinkedIn profile, I get a ton of questions about headlines. Here are a few of the most common questions.
- Should your headline recap experience? Not just your recent role?
- No. Your About and Work Experience profile sections are where you will recap experience. The headline needs to be just the job title.
- My current headline is where I work and my title. Is that a no-no?
- I don’t think it’s going to hurt your chances. Hell, where you work now might be the exact reason why someone wants to reach out. Sometimes making the change to a headline while you’re employed may make your manager think you’re leaving the company. Be prepared for that conversation if you make changes to your headline while employed.
- How will recruiters find me if they are looking for a job title I didn’t list?
- Recruiters can search LinkedIn in many ways; we’re just describing one of those ways here. They can search by keywords on your profile, in your work experience, etc. If you accurately describe your skills, any great recruiter or sourcer that’s looking for you will definitely find you.
- What’s the harm in putting two titles in headline?
- Remember the recruiter experience. They’re scanning one long page of profiles that are exact matches as far as job title. When you create what I like to call a “transformer job title” i.e. lots of job titles or details all mixed together, you may never be found.
Your LinkedIn headline is your digital introduction to recruiters. Don’t just guess. This isn’t some creativity contest. This is about strategy for being found. Use the methodology and FAQs for a better LinkedIn headline above to make sure recruiters find you during the job hunt. And remember, if you notice views going down? The #1 way to increase your chances of showing up first in a search is by updating that headline.
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.