LinkedIn Headline Formula – Label, Keywords, Interest
If you asked several different LinkedIn Specialists for their ‘headline formula,’ they would probably all give you a different formula suggestion.
Your number one priority is your purpose! What are you trying to be found for on LinkedIn and what do you want to be remembered for? If people didn’t read anything else on your LinkedIn Profile, would they have some idea about how you provide value to others if they only read your Headline?
Here is the formula I use and recommend.
1. Memorable Label
When I was ‘Sue Everything,’ nobody could remember my specialty and I didn’t get any work or career opportunities. When I gave myself the label ‘Independent LinkedIn Specialist’ (yes, I know, you should only label jars, not people!), I suddenly became memorable and started getting more work (and search engine results too I might add). It didn’t stop me getting the range of work I currently enjoyed, it just helped people remember how I provide value and what is most aligned to what I do.
If you met me in person and asked me ‘what do you do?’ and I said I am a ‘Plumber’ you would probably remember that. But if I started rattling off that I am an author, consultant, trainer and gigster in the areas of careers, business, marketing and social media, you would be unlikely to remember me at all!
Likewise, if you are scrolling through the newsfeed of LinkedIn, you will not see my full Headline in the newsfeed. That is why the first three to five words are the most important.
My ‘label’ is Independent LinkedIn Specialist.
I chose the word ‘Independent’ to clarify my uniqueness.
I chose the word ‘LinkedIn’ to define my area of expertise.
I chose the word ‘Specialist’ to define my level of capability.
If you are looking for a specific role and it is more senior than your current role, you could use a word like ‘Aspiring’ or ‘Future’ as your clarifying word. e.g. Aspiring Accountant, Future Logistics Manager. This means you will appear in search results for your keyword ‘Accountant’ or ‘Logistics Manager’ even though you are not currently in that type of role.
2. Primary Value Related Keywords
I love keywords and your Primary keywords should definitely be included in your Headline as this is the number one search priority field. (The next most important field is your current Job Title). Again, enter them in the order of importance to you and your purpose. If you are not sure what they are, this Article on Primary and Secondary Keywords may be helpful to you.
Some people like to include a specific value statement – how you can provide value to an employer or client. These words are not usually part of a search query, so I like to leave that information for the first three lines of the About/Summary section. I would rather include more keywords and appear in more search results.
I like to capitalise each word in the Headline, say each word only once and come up with as many ‘combinations’ as possible from the full list. I use commas where needed rather than pipes | because a comma only takes one space between words. I also avoid using a slash / because it actually joins two words together so you won’t be ‘found’ for either word in a search query. You could use a space either side of the slash / if absolutely necessary. Text and commas are usually easier to read in a line.
I also avoid too much narrative or extra adjectives that would not be a part of a search query. My ultimate goal is to appear in search results so that I can be viewed and then make sure that the user experience when someone visits my LinkedIn Profile helps them to understand whether we are a values fit or not.
Other good items to include are acronyms specific to your expertise or industry. e.g. a Project Manager could include PMP. Professional Association Membership status may also be appropriate e.g. FCAHRI – Fellow Certified Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute.
If you are not sure what your purpose is, then this Article on How to choose your next job or career may be helpful.
3. Personal Interest Word and/or Emoji
LinkedIn is a social media platform for professionals – so that doesn’t mean you have to be ALL professional and not social. If you can include a word and an emoji that reflects a personal interest of yours, when people read your profile, they get to know a little bit more about you as a person and it can be a great conversation starter as you build new relationships online.
If you can’t right click your mouse and insert an emoji, you can go to a website like Get Emoji and copy and paste one in. However, please choose an aligned emoji. I once had an accountant who mentioned that one of his interests was playing poker. I would not feel comfortable hiring an accountant who likes to ♠️ gamble with money!
I have chosen an ‘active person’ emoji. As a ‘woman of a certain age,’ I want people to know that I am active and reasonably fit!
4. What to avoid
- The words ‘currently seeking opportunities’ or any version thereof. These are NOT keywords and make you look desperate. Don’t mention years of experience either – it is irrelevant – focus on your skills.
- Too many emojis. Makes you look like a try-hard.
- Job Title and Company Name only. Makes you look like you don’t know how to maximise LinkedIn.
- Spelling mistakes and inconsistencies (like not using capital letters in a consistent way).
- Using all capital letters. Considered to be ‘shouting’ in the online world.
- Don’t put keywords in your first name or last name box. It is against the LinkedIn User Agreement.
- Don’t leave it blank. That looks really bad.
- If you are no longer interested in work or enterprise, you can use a headline that says something like ‘Only available for family tree enquiries and catching up with long lost friends and colleagues.’ There is no need to delete your LinkedIn Profile after retirement.
- Creating two LinkedIn Profiles. Your headline can talk about multiple specialties and you can be known for more than one area of expertise. Just put the one that is most important for your purpose first.
- Words that are only known in your industry but not by searchers looking for what you do. You may need to include ‘consumer,’ popular use words or job title words as well as industry words in your Headline.
5. Other expert thoughts
Bob McIntosh has collated some more suggestions from different LinkedIn Professionals in this article that may also be of interest https://thingscareerrelated.com/2021/08/16/15-linkedin-pros-talk-about-creating-a-powerful-linkedin-headline/
Hubspot have provided a great blog post with examples at https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/how-to-write-an-effective-linkedin-headline
LinkedIn Help provides information on how to edit your LinkedIn Headline at https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/2901/edit-your-headline
6. Don’t lose your Headline
You may have gone to a lot of trouble to create a great Headline and if you have, I suggest you save a copy of it (perhaps email it to yourself) because if you change your work and add more Experience to your LinkedIn Profile, you may accidentally replace your Headline with your new Job Title. Oops. All that hard work, gone.
Whilst you are there, why not click on the More button at the top of the screen and Save your LinkedIn Profile to PDF so that you have a backup copy of your LinkedIn Profile?
You can also request a copy of all of your LinkedIn data at https://www.linkedin.com/psettings/member-data in the unlikely event that your LinkedIn Profile is no longer available. I recommend that you do this every six months.
Other LinkedIn Articles of interest (Right click to open in a new tab)
- LinkedIn for Women (but really for everyone)
- How to find a job or work using LinkedIn
- Why You Should Create a Good LinkedIn Profile
- How to Write a LinkedIn Profile Summary for your Purpose
- LinkedIn Profile Updates Cheat Sheet
- Multiple Job Strategies That Will Work
- What to do for your career whilst you are at home
- What to do your business whilst you are at home
- Tips for finding remote work or working from home jobs
- Networking – Free and Paid Online and Offline – What really works?
- How to help someone with their career when they won’t listen to your advice
- Can unemployment be good for you?
- Tough Love for the Unemployed under 30
- Tough Love for the Unemployed 30-50
- Tough Love for the Unemployed over 50
- LinkedIn Frequently Asked Questions
Enjoy the rest of your day!
#linkedinheadline #linkedin #linkedinprofile #sueellson
First Published: 19 August 2021
Last Update: 9 August 2022