“Need a Career” is Not a LinkedIn Headline

“Need a Career” is Not a LinkedIn Headline

I just received a LinkedIn connection request from a total stranger with no customized invitation message. That’s normal since most LinkedIn users don’t know which “connect” button to enable the customization feature and they don’t know how important a personal message is. Please, please tell me who you are and why you want to connect; I don’t have ESP, you know.

(I will continue to beg LinkedIn to enable the customization pop-up with every “connect” button on LinkedIn and make it easier on the phone app, too.)

It was actually the headline that caught me. I’m more surprised than ever that LinkedIn users don’t pay attention to the headline or the 120 characters that share their personal brand with their network.

This person’s headline: Need a Career

Since I’m a career and job search coach, the headline did its job. I was intrigued so I opened the profile and discovered the following:

  • The most recent job is titled “Need a Career”
  • Within that top job, it shows Self-employed, October 2011 – Present, 6 years, 11 months.
  • The previous job was for only 6 months.
  • The job prior to that was for only 5 months and unrelated to the skills or job type listed under “Self-employed” in #2 above.
  • The before that a job that was for 11 months but there was a 14-month gap between it and the next most recent job.
  • There was no LinkedIn summary section, which could have described what they are looking for.
  • There were no LinkedIn recommendations about the job seeker or given by the job seeker.

In other words, a headline that read like a call for help – and did catch my attention – provided no useful information about the job seeker.

7 Keys to a great LinkedIn headline:

  1. Realize that LinkedIn defaults to the title of your most recent position as a headline. Make every effort to change that, especially if you are job-seeking or networking for a specific objective. In addition, entrepreneurs or solopreneurs would benefit from describing their expertise rather than using titles like President, Consultant, Coach.
  2. Open up your word processor and type out your best headline. Limit it to 120 characters, including symbols and spaces, but use all the allowed amount! 
  3. List key words that best describe what you want future LinkedIn viewers to know about you. If you are making a career change, use the skill words that are most relevant for your future role. If you are providing services, then promote what you do.
  4. Use commas or the vertical slash (|), not the forward slash (/),so the search algorithm in LinkedIn can use the power of each word. Note: commas take up less space. You want to be found by that search algorithm when someone is looking for a job candidate like you!
  5. Remove unnecessary words like “Proven success in…”Those extra words take up valuable space!
  6. Be specific and compelling. Imagine transforming this headline from“Executive Coach, Strategic Advisor, Author, Speaker” to: Sr. Executive Coach, Strategic Advisor, Author, Speaker | Leadership, Management, Communications, Boards, Team Building
  7. Avoid trying to be “cute” or philosophical, and no jargon, please:
  • Creative Bad-Ass fluent in video, live event, and online learning production
  • Leading teams that enable the success of customers and partners by transforming their businesses with technology.
  • Passionate about democratizing learning
  • Payments expert and innovator
  • Passions in public speaking and human beings

Good Examples:

  • Nonprofit Professional, Social Entrepreneur, Educator, Team Leader, Fund-Raiser, Communications, Partnerships, Innovator
  • CEO | Growth Driver | Entrepreneur | Mobile, Digital, Technology and Consumer Package Goods (CPG) | B2C | E-commerce
  • U.S. Military job seeker aiming for an information technology role: Active Directory | PowerShell | Aspiring Support Engineer | DNS | DHCP | Secret Clearance | Bilingual | Army Veteran
  • A coach: The Impact & Leadership Expert, We Grow Leaders, Help Women Advance, Keynote Speaker, Author, Coaching, Training

Take advantage of all of the benefits of LinkedIn details to make a career change, build your network, sell more products and services, and simply shine!


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