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LinkedIn training tip – Your Professional Headline should be a marketing phrase, not your job title

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Summary:

The Professional Headline in your LinkedIn profile should not just be your current title.  It should be a marketing slogan.

Details:

If you were looking at a Professional Headline in LinkedIn, which one would be more memorable?

Jeff Ogden
Sales/Marketing Consultant

or

Jeff Ogden
Sales/Marketing Consultant, making you a “ferocious competitor”

In my opinion, the second one is more memorable, more powerful, and more intriguing.

The important thing to note is that your Professional Headline does not have to be your current job title.  The field is 120 characters in size, meaning that you can fit 15-20 words in there, so you should make it more of a marketing slogan than a simple title.  At the very least, you may want to add some flair, some detail, or some personality to your title.

Alternatively, you could add any of the following:

  • More detail about your company
  • Your location
  • Something cool about your job
  • The fact that you are looking for a job

For instance, if your job title is something like

  1. Sales Professional
  2. Accountant
  3. Event Planner
  4. IT Manager

you might want to consider changing it to one of the following:

  1. Sales Professional with the hottest disk technology in Boston
  2. Accountant who was responsible for the demise of AIG
  3. Event Planner, preparing golf outings for executives in Phoenix
  4. IT Manager seeking employment in New York

Ok, maybe not #2, but you get the idea.  These all convey much more information that the simple title would provide.  Remember that it is called your Professional Headline, so take the story of your work life, summarize it in a few words, and try using it for a while.  You can always change it later.

Realize that your Name and Professional Headline are the only two things that others will see in the some places in LinkedIn, like when

  • you answer questions in the Q&A section
  • you leave messages in the Group discussion forums
  • someone looks at their own connections
  • someone is looking through another person’s connections

Therefore, if you give a few great answers in the LinkedIn Q&A section, you also have an opportunity to tell people (in a subtle way) that you are “seeking employment in New York”.  If your answer is credible enough, you may be a click away from getting contacted for a job interview.  After all, the people reading it were interested in the solution to a problem, and you had one.  If they have a lot of problems, you may get a job solving their problems.  If your Professional Headline just said “IT Manager”, the reader might just move on.

I have gotten business using the exact technique above.  In fact, I got a recent contract from someone named

Josh Chernin
General Manager at Web Industries; Itinerant Writer; and Decent Little League Coach

which I thought was a very memorable example of a Professional Headline.  In just 11 words, you learn Josh’s job, his passion, and you learn that he is an active father.  He also appears to be a really good guy (and he is).  If you combine his Name and Professional Headline with the hundreds of great answers he’s given in LinkedIn’s Q&A section, you really begin to feel like you know a lot about him, and I think that’s a big part of what social media is all about.

Therefore, think about dressing up your Professional Headline a little, and see what results you get.  Look at the ones your connections have set up, and get some new ideas.  Look at the Q&A section of LinkedIn, and consider using some of their thought processes to reform your own.

What are the best Professional Headlines you have seen?

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31 comments

1 YEady { 08.12.09 at 10:41 pm }

Excellent article. I’ve been very hesitant about signing up for a Linkedin account. After reading your article I see how important it is to be listed. I’m going to do it right now! Thank you

2 Patrick OMalley { 08.13.09 at 9:59 am }

YEady,

Welcome aboard

3 Ed Bisquera { 10.04.09 at 2:31 pm }

Patrick,

What a great tip and something I need to include in my classes to Realtors and small businesses. I’ve talked about how anywhere you have your name and it becomes “linkable” (meaning anchor text) it doesn’t hurt to have a very short descriptive set of words for your Name/Title. Especially if all of those text words become anchor text for hyperlinkable URL’s. 🙂

Thanks for the great tip and reminder that we can use LinkedIn.com to further help paint a picture about yourself and spread that unique brand around.

Ed Bisquera
Follow me on Twitter @edbisquera

4 Jim Nealis { 11.25.09 at 12:28 am }

Wow! What a lightbulb moment! when I read this piece, I immediately signed in to my LinkedIn page and added some branding help to my headline. Thanks for the insight.

5 Patrick OMalley { 11.25.09 at 11:09 am }

Thanks, EB & JN

6 Lori Harris { 12.09.09 at 10:07 am }

Excellent story about the little league coach. Thinking about how to incorporate Ironman in my title.

7 Patrick OMalley { 12.09.09 at 1:05 pm }

LH, you could probably just add it at the end, saying “Iroman enthusiast”, or “Iron woman” if you wanted to be different. However, you do have to wonder if it will take away from the rest of your message. A picture of you in an Ironman related outfit may do it, although some people would say it isn’t business like.

I doubt there is a clear answer that will please everyone.

8 snookiecollins { 08.13.10 at 9:59 am }

“so take the story of your work life, summarize it in a few words”
Love it! – makes sense and will probably get some to take a second look, or at least wanting to find out more…
Definitely not the usual boring tagline! =D
Great stuff Patrick.
Hope you have an excellent weekend,
–snookiecollins

9 LinkedIn Experiment – Day 1 – Getting Current | thedecarlos.ca { 01.27.11 at 9:01 am }

[…] Sales/Marketing Consultant, making you a “ferocious competitor” http://www.the-linkedin-speaker.com/blog/2009/05/07/linkedin-training-tip-professional-headline-shou… […]

10 Alejandro { 03.17.11 at 1:58 pm }

Headline also appears in the results of searching, which is one of the most important places to be seen.

Regards

11 Patrick O’Malley { 03.17.11 at 4:10 pm }

Alejandro,

It shows up everywhere – in the search results, in the list of your friend’s Connections, in LinkedIn Q&A, in Groups, and almost everywhere else.

12 LMS { 03.29.11 at 6:27 pm }

Thanks for the pointers, Patrick. A very useful article.

13 Patrick O’Malley { 03.29.11 at 8:24 pm }

Thanks, LMS

14 Harshul Shah { 06.28.11 at 2:00 pm }

Excellent Article!
In fact, I changed my profile headline after reading this article.
I made something like this:
“Leading Offshore Software & Social App development ventures with dribbling success for customers including renown brands”

Your suggestion will be highly appreciated!

Thanks once again!

15 Anonymous { 08.06.11 at 5:56 am }

great line

16 C Johnson { 09.10.11 at 9:46 pm }

I totally agree with you about the importance of personal branding. My branding statement came into being when a networking contact introduced me to a friend by saying that I was great at translating data into useful information (I’m a statistician). It evolved over time into its current form, which I use to this day as my LinkedIn tagline. When another networking contact heard about a job opportunity at her place of employment, she immediately thought of me and was able to share my branding statement – word for word – with the hiring manager. As a result, I was put in direct contact with the internal recruiter and was hired, starting the job 3 weeks later.

17 Patrick O’Malley { 09.12.11 at 9:48 am }

CJ, write up the story. Give real examples. Put it in a blog. I’ll link to it. People need help.

18 Jessica Holbrook { 10.27.11 at 11:02 am }

I’m looking at rewriting mine and found this article when searching. Thanks!

19 Kiran { 12.12.11 at 1:03 pm }

Hi Patrick,

Very good article..I was trying to update my headline..when i got this article..can you please help me out put up my headline..I was working as an Operations Manager in an IT firm and looking forwrd to picking up a job ASAP..

20 Patrick O’Malley { 12.27.11 at 7:28 pm }

Kiran,

It has to be personalized, but it could be Operations Manager with the best IT firm in Boston

21 Stepehen Harden { 03.06.12 at 12:47 pm }

Awesosme, this is exactly what I have been researching for the best way to market my brand. Thank you for your idea.

22 Patrick O’Malley { 03.08.12 at 12:45 pm }

SH, Cool. Good luck

23 Tristen Suther { 03.09.12 at 11:54 am }

Hi Patrick,

The problem I have with my headline is I work for state government (seeking other employment but I have to be discreet) and my title does not describe what I do (Business Services Project Manager).

I am not a Project Manager but more of an Account Manager, Recruiter, Business Developer, and we are non-profit so I cannot include a sales phrase like “highest sales” or “most profitable”. I am also trying to re-direct into the HR field.

Thanks for any advice you can give!

24 Patrick O’Malley { 03.09.12 at 12:43 pm }

Tristen,

I have a few pieces of awesome advice:

– your title should probably be your actual title, but your professional headline can be whatever you think best describes you, and could be, “Most successful Account Manager, HR Recruiter, and Business Development executive for a Boston non-profit”
– make sure you put HR and Human Resources in a lot of your job titles and descriptions (if applicable) so that people doing a search for an HR person are more likely to see your profile
– put the words “seeking” and “looking” in your profile in some way. HR people who are looking for employees now sometimes look for people who say “seeking employment” in their profile. You can be clever and say that in college, you wanted to help people who were “seeking employment”. Now you will show up in those searches
– if you are looking for a job quietly, don’t put your full name in your blog comments!

25 Sarah Dempsey { 03.11.12 at 12:15 pm }

How can you subtly put that your seeking employment? I am looking for a marketing position but don’t want to turn people off by saying “unemployed”.

26 Jeffrey { 03.25.12 at 12:12 am }

Hi, I am an IT graduate but works as a computer operator. This job is like a data entry / data controller / secretary or clerical job. But what I like about this job is I learned a lot from different dept that i worked with (Engineering, Logistics, Document Control and HSE). I do somehow manage to understand their procedures and how they organize their documents. Aside from that, I do some desktop support for the guys on the office.

I am thinking of putting DESKTOP Support for the heading on linkedin, Any Advise?

Many Thanks

27 Professional headline | Tgriffith { 03.30.12 at 2:13 pm }

[…] LinkedIn training tip – Your Professional Headline should be a …May 7, 2009 … Summary: The Professional Headline in your LinkedIn profile should not just be your current title. It should be a marketing slogan. […]

28 Shamika { 06.01.12 at 1:18 pm }

Hi i am just starting off in the Administrative/ Clerical file of work and was trying to come up with a way to sell my resume with limited work history in the field.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated.. Thanks!

29 Janna { 06.20.12 at 3:44 pm }

Since my ‘title’ went from Executive Assistant to SVP for 15 years to Warehouse Rep, (thanks to the VP retirement and attrition)…my title is now, “Self-motivated, creative, multi-tasking, human dynamo!” Too corny??? I am enthusiastically searching for another role as Executive Assistant and I want to be memorable & stand out. Any suggestions??? http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=39689757&trk=tab_pro

30 MKL { 07.17.13 at 12:54 pm }

Hi Patrick.
I’m a long time IT professional who is seeking to ‘downsize’ to a more routine mid-level or clerical role and cannot seem to figure out how to advertise myself because I don’t have a specific target position.
Would really appreciate your help with this.
Thanks.

31 Jill { 06.28.14 at 1:25 pm }

Hi Patrick. Great tips. What would you recommend for a headline when you are a stay at home mom re-entering the workforce?

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