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Maximize Your LinkedIn Profile Professional Headline

By Susan P. Joyce

I've seen too many job seekers label themselves on LinkedIn as "Unemployed" or "(fill-in-the-blank) Professional." Wasting a golden opportunity!

After your name and photo, your LinkedIn Professional Headline is possibly the most important part of your LinkedIn Profile.

  • The Professional Headline is the tagline, immediately following your name, at the top of your LinkedIn Profile.
  • The Professional Headline also accompanies your name and photo in your LinkedIn Group activities and other LinkedIn visibility.

Your LinkedIn Professional Headline is one of the most visible spots on LinkedIn for you to combine personal marketing and personal SEO (search engine optimization), leveraging the best keywords for your career.

Use the Best Terms for You to Be Found in Search

Recruiters and employers search LinkedIn relentlessly, looking for qualified job candidates as well as good people to connect with.

Using the right words (like the keywords in the job title of the job you are targeting) will increase the probability that your Profile will appear in a recruiter's search for someone with those skills.

[Read the The 25 Best Keywords for You in Your Job Search and How to Identify Exactly the Right Keywords for Your LinkedIn Profile.]


Professional Headline Examples:

Which one of these sends the most positive message about Mary Smith? Which one tells recruiters more about what she could do for an employer? Which one is more likely to show up in LinkedIn search results?

A. Mary Smith

----- or -----

B. Mary Smith
Experienced Marketing Professional

----- or -----

C. Mary Smith
Strategic/Product Marketing Analyst
w/5 Years in Consumer Products (B2C):
Market Assessment and Competitive Positioning

Unless you edit your Professional Headline, LinkedIn will automatically fill that space with your current job title and employer, if you have one. Even for those who are unemployed, that's an enormous wasted opportunity.

Which would an employer contact: A, B, or C?

If you were a potential employer or someone looking for a new contact, which person looks more interesting/appealing in the results of a LinkedIn search or at the top of a LinkedIn Profile - A, B, or C?

The C headline provides not only information and interesting ideas, it also provides essential keywords. Someone with a headline like this one will appear more often (and higher) in LinkedIn (and Google) search results. Studies show that their name will be clicked on more often, too.

While all Professional Headlines are accurate, the A headline -"Unemployed" - describes a temporary situation. "Experienced Marketing Professional" - offers only one keyword ("marketing") and no clear understanding of personal marketing so no reason to look further.

LinkedIn gives you 120 spaces to use for your headline, use that space to market yourself, particularly when you are in a job search.

If your Profile looks more like A or B than C, change it now.

Use the Right Keywords for YOU

Because LinkedIn is constantly and thoroughly searched by recruiters as well as people looking for good networking contacts, pay attention to the keywords used in your Profile, particularly in your Profile's Headline, but also elsewhere in your LinkedIn Profile.

Read these articles for more information:

Bottom Line

If you are a professional working in the United States, you need a LinkedIn Profile. LinkedIn Profiles are the cross-geography, cross-profession, and cross-location white pages of the 21st century.

About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.


LinkedIn Job Search Guide

How LinkedIn Helps Your Job Search:

Using LinkedIn Effectively:

Setting Up an Effective LinkedIn Presence:


LinkedIn and Stealth Job Search:

Manage Special Situations with LinkedIn

LinkedIn for Personal SEO

LinkedIn for Personal Branding (from the Guide to Personal Branding column)

LinkedIn for Personal Online Reputation Management

LinkedIn and Recruiters:

More About LinkedIn on

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