By Laura Smith-Proulx
Using LinkedIn for your job search? You might have assumed, as many others do, that your mere presence on the site is enough to make your Profile findable by employers and recruiters.
However, the key information used in some LinkedIn Profile fields can actually make a huge difference in the way employers become aware of your qualifications.
Specifically, your Headline is prime LinkedIn real estate—critical to the marketing and search optimization methods that might be used by recruiters to locate you when they search for candidates.
Here's how it works:
As a quick identifier, your Headline should be tuned to not only your job level, but your goal, enabling LinkedIn's internal search engine to do its job more efficiently.
When you first populate your Profile, LinkedIn will ask if you'd prefer to use your current job title as the Headline. Even if you respond with "Yes," you can (and should) take the time to update your Headline to a branded representation of your job target and value to employers—filling up as many of the 120 characters allowed as possible.
To change your Headline, click on the Profile option at the top of your Home Page, then choose Edit Profile. In the area that lists your name, select Edit to change your Headline.
Consider the following examples when tuning your Headline for greater searchability and relevance to your job goals:
Sam is an IT executive who, even though unemployed, has held the title of Chief Information Officer in past roles. Therefore, using CIO in his LinkedIn Headline automatically helps his Profile register results in searches for CIO candidates.
Taking this a step further, Sam's executive brand can also be presented in the Headline, allowing for some reader intrigue on the part of employers, and also generating additional interest in him as a candidate.
His leadership background includes building IT teams that adhere to strict Service Level Agreements while supporting business units worldwide.
His Headline, built to reflect his career level and his brand, could be set to
"CIO & Executive IT Strategist: Creating responsive, global technical support organizations."
Notice that we've still not filled up all 120 characters, yet the title quickly conveys Sam's value proposition, with an accurate picture of the type of role he is pursuing.
And his unemployed status? He can either leave his Headline as it stands, letting his employment history speak for itself, or make a slight change to
"CIO & IT Executive: Seeking opportunity to create responsive, global IT support for growing organizations"—a twist that retains his keywords while stating his intent.
John, a Senior Operations Manager in the manufacturing industry who is seeking a position at a higher level, has already demonstrated the executive skills that qualify him to move up the career ladder as a Director.
However, he is also considering a lateral move, as long as he can continue to conserve expenses and implement productivity changes throughout the organization.
Therefore, he could set up his Headline to read
"Operations Director & Manager – Cost control & efficiency improvement impacting $120M manufacturing operation."
This descriptions gives the reader more information on his areas of industry expertise, achievements, and the most likely fit for his next employer.
There's no end to the ways you can tune your Headline—without resorting to just a current job title (or using "Unemployed and Looking," which doesn't help your findability or promote your brand).
Spend some time with your Headline, giving some thought to the best way to market your capabilities and value to your next employer, and utilizing as much of the available 120 characters as possible.
Job-Hunt's LinkedIn for Job Search Expert Laura Smith-Proulx, Executive Director of An Expert Resume, is an award-winning executive resume writer, national columnist, author, LinkedIn and SEO enthusiast, and past recruiter. Laura is author of How to Get Hired Faster: 60+ Proven Tips and Strategies to Access the Hidden Job Market. Connect with Laura on Twitter at @ResumeExpert, on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/laurasmithproulx, and on Google Plus.