There is an on-going debate on the internet about the best LinkedIn headline structure. In case you are wondering what the fuss is all about; well with the LinkedIn headline section you can describe what you do in 120 characters or less, the brief description appears next to your name in LinkedIn search results and it can attract employers, connections, and potential partners to click your profile and learn more about your experience and background.
Some LinkedIn users default to their current job title and employer, while others either manually input a keyword rich headline with keywords they would like to rank for, write a slogan to answer their target audience pain points or make it clear to recruiters that they actively seeking employment.
But which headline structure is the most effective?
Below, I outline five headline structures that I have come across and I encourage you to consider one or a combination of multiple ones to help you stand out.
1. Default job title headline + current employer
My only concern with the default job title headline that LinkedIn updates by default when you update your profile with your current job; is that it doesn’t say much about you, your value proposition and how what you do will solve your target audience’s pain points. It’s just a title and you are not the only one who has it – that will make it harder for you to stand out from the crowd. After all you are given 120 characters, it’s best to use them wisely.
2. Job title + value proposition headline
Your current job title as a headline only tells people what you do but does not communicate the value that you add. However, when written and combined with a detailed description of the value you add, its clearer and carries more weight.
Here is an example of my headline, it combines my job title and a value add for my target audience.
In my case, ‘Digital marketing senior manager’ is my current title and my value proposition which aims to answer ‘Why’ a potential employer should contact me is that “I help brands increase their awareness and generate quality leads online”
HubSpot suggests that, you can adapt your company’s value proposition if you are not sure of how to craft yours or even peruse through your company’s testimonials for inspiration.
3. Slogan headline
If your objective for using LinkedIn is to build awareness for your personal brand, then going with the slogan headline might be ideal. Think of it in this way, if your first name and last name represent your personal brand (brand you) just like how an artist would use a stage name (e.g Jay Z). Then the LinkedIn headline is the best place to write the slogan for your personal brand.
Using your personal brand slogan on your LinkedIn headline will help you convey a message about what your personal stands for and capture the attention of the people audience you are trying to reach
Here are examples of people who use slogans on their headline:
4. keyword rich headline
Lately, there has been a trend on LinkedIn which I call the “keyword rich headline” or ‘multi-job description/title’ headline where LinkedIn users write multiple job titles, acronyms, qualifications and area of expertise using separators (with the vertical separator and hyphen being the most popular).
What I have seen is that most users think that all they have to do is list their core professional areas on to the headline and then hope to appeal to as many different people as possible. However, if you are just listing terms without a clear strategy you might seem unfocused and unsure to that people you are targeting.
With the keyword rich headline, you need to ensure that the keywords you utilise are those which you would like to show up for when searches are performed by people in your target audience (recruiters, prospects, connections etc.).
You should aim for 3 – 5 keywords/phrases that match what your target audience is searching for and what you would like to rank for. These words should be at the beginning of your headline to avoid them being truncated in the search results (like on the image below).
One important thing to keep in mind when writing your keyword rich headlines is that, LinkedIn is a search engine just like Google, YouTube, or Amazon. When people are looking for someone on LinkedIn, they type some words (keywords) into the search box and LinkedIn returns results it believes are the most relevant.
If a recruiter types “Marketing Manager Insurance” in the search bar, LinkedIn will return profiles of people who have the words (keywords) “Marketing Manager” and “Insurance” (along with other criteria) in their profile.
In this case, both “Marketing Manager” and “Insurance” are keywords.
The people who show up at the top of the search results typically mention those keywords in their LinkedIn headline. You need to ensure that you are at the top of the search when people in your target audience search for you, someone with your skills & experience or the service you render as a professional.
Here are examples of people who use keywords in their headline (some keywords are truncated):
5. Actively seeking opportunities or unemployed headlines
I guess we can all agree that most LinkedIn users, use it to find jobs. And on the flip side 87% of recruiters in South African use LinkedIn as a vetting tool, which helps them narrow down the list of potential candidates for a specific position.
As a job seeker if you want to stand out, you need a headline that includes keywords to help you show up in searches when recruiters are looking for candidates to fill a specific role.
Here is an example of someone who nicely articulated their headline:
To further assist its users land the perfect job, LinkedIn added a new “Open-To Work” feature. The feature enables users to display that they’re available for offers and opportunities. This feature combined with the right keywords on your headline can help to make your profile stand out in searches and in feeds.
The option adds an ‘Open to Work’ photo frame to your profile image.
All the different headline types have their pros and cons, however I wouldn’t encourage anyone to use the default job title headline. Clearly, because with 120 characters LinkedIn has given you enough space to be creative and use keywords that will help stand out and be found.
Personally, I use a combination of three types: Job title + value proposition headline, Slogan headline and keyword rich headline.
How about you update your headline with one or a combination of the different headlines and track how many people view your profile after a month.