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Fast Formula for a Powerful LinkedIn Professional Headline

By Laura Smith-Proulx

LinkedIn image

Your LinkedIn Profile isn’t just a placeholder – it has a job to do! By marketing you effectively, it serves as your digital identity and an online promotional workhorse.

As the most highly indexed part of your Profile (next to your name), your Headline allows recruiters and employers to locate you, based on the search terms or keywords you specify.

If you’ve filled in only part of your Headline or let LinkedIn populate it with your current job title and employer (which is the default value), you could be missing out on valuable traffic to your Profile. Don’t let that happen! Instead, use as many of the 120 characters available in your Headline – ensuring that it represents your career level and personal brand, while distinguishing you from your competition.

If you are currently unemployed, read The Best LinkedIn Job Title When You Are Unemployed.


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The 4-Part Headline Formula

Try the following formula when you’re stumped for an effective LinkedIn Headline that leverages your industry expertise, achievements, and keywords:

1 - Add your target job or position level, such as:

  • CEO
  • VP
  • Administrative Assistant
  • EVP
  • Developer
  • Call Center Rep
  • Account Rep
  • IT Project Manager

Here, you’ll want to use the shortened, commonly abbreviated version to conserve space. You can also add a similar title, particularly if you are targeting jobs at a similar level (for example, Director / VP or Receptionist / Administrative Assistant).

2 - Add your primary industry or job function.

Keep in mind that this should be a strong keyword that encompasses your industry (Consumer Products, Beverage, Manufacturing) or function (IT, Finance, Sales, Marketing, etc.). By doing so, you’re giving employers an idea of your main career path and background.

  • Operations
  • Technology
  • Front Desk
  • CPG
  • Manufacturing
  • IT
  • Accounting
  • Customer Service
  • Healthcare
  • Order Processing
  • Employee Relations
  • Billing

3 – Pull in your strongest areas of expertise.

Add at least one, if not several, keywords that represent your areas of strength (your superpower, so to speak), such as Profit Growth, Team Engagement, Consumer Insights, or New Sales Territories. Be sure to look at job postings in your field for ideas on desirable skills and competencies.

Look at these examples for ideas:

  • Go-To Market Strategy
  • Software Sales
  • M&A Due Diligence
  • Corporate Restructuring
  • Customer Relations
  • Channel Management
  • ERP Systems
  • Financial Reporting

4 – Add a signature achievement.

Here’s where you’ll want to get specific about your career success stories, focusing on the results you’ve generated. You can either list a more general accomplishment that doubles as a keyword (such as Sales Results, Customer Satisfaction, or Production Increases) or disclose details (35% Annual Growth, $125K First-Year Sales, or 56% of New Reseller Alliances).

To convey your brand value to employers, your “achievement” should resonate within your industry and reference results that you can spell out in greater detail in your Summary and Experience sections.

  • Top-Line Growth
  • On-Time Projects
  • Profit Turnarounds
  • Successful Company Exits
  • Highly Available Systems
  • Technology Upgrades
  • Organizational Efficiency
  • Better Customer Retention
  • Cost Savings

The results should look similar to these LinkedIn Headlines:

COO, Manufacturing. Production Efficiency, Market Entry, Union Relations, Capacity Increases, & 32% Yearly Profit Growth

Project Coordinator. Planning, Billing, & Reporting. Better Performance From Organizational & Documentation Improvement

VP Software Engineering, CTO. Technology Roadmaps, Program Management. 20%+ Cost Savings, New Revenues, Staff Retention

Marketing Assistant. Expert Calendar Management, Collateral Development, & Events. Strong Lead Generation

GM. Sales, P&L, US & Offshore Greenfield Manufacturing Startups. APAC Market Share Improvements & Production Increases

Project Analyst. Financial Services & Trust Accounting. On-Time Delivery & Accuracy Through Stakeholder Collaboration

Us as many of those 120 characters as possible for your Headline. Make the message about your ROI clear and compelling.

Bottom Line

Your LinkedIn Professional Headline accompanies your name and photo almost everywhere in LinkedIn. With a Headline that makes it clear what you want and what you have done, you are marketing yourself to everyone who sees your name. Include the right keywords for you, and your Profile will be found more often in LinkedIn searches.

More About Leveraging LinkedIn for Your Job Search and Career:


About the author...

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.


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