I got an email this week asking about how to write a really catchy LinkedIn professional headline. Their original idea was this:

Experienced leader, change agent and recent University of San Diego Graduate; searching for a business leadership position in a multinational corporation with responsibility for implementation of strategic growth initiatives.

Here are some problems with it.

It’s too long, LinkedIn restricts headlines to 120 characters.

Also, never use the word “Searching”. Searching is your problem, not their solution. And you want to be their solution. Finally, avoid ALL of the top ten overused buzzwords that LinkedIn has identified. In this case, avoid “Experienced”.

Follow These 3 Steps

I wrote back to this Career Enlightenment member with the following suggested steps to crafting a better headline.

  1. Think about your target company. What are their needs?
  2. Think about what keywords someone might use to try to find you. (read this for keyword sources)
  3. Open a wordprocessor and try to come up with a concise statement based on the answers from the previous 2 steps.

Let’s assume he is targeting GE-Rail. GE-Rail makes their money by leasing trains to shipping companies. And they have a huge problem with asset tracking and lifecycle (I’m guessing here). Also, they operate in a highly regulated industry and might find military experience a bonus.

Next, let’s assume GE hires recruiters who are looking for people who live in Chicago with the words “Director” and “Operations” and “Compliance”.

After some careful word-smithing to make sure the statement is 120 characters or less, the result might look like this:

Sr. Director of Operations Specializing in Asset Tracking and Compliance | Former Naval Officer and Six Sigma Blackbelt

Characters: 119

The Rationale

It’s easy to get too clever with your headline. Remember that recruiters on LinkedIn are using keyword searching to find new talent. So the use of keywords out-weighs being cute.

Furthermore, your headline needs to very quickly label you as a certain type of person, i.e. Sr. Level Exec versus line manager.

Finally, the job market is in such a state that most companies have their pickings of some of the best talent in the world. Your message has to be about them and how you can solve their problem.