How to Create a Great LinkedIn Profile Headline

The headline is the first thing a recruiter will see in your LinkedIn profile. It is also one of the main factors that will determine where you show up in LinkedIn’s search results. If you’re hoping recruiters and other professionals will discover you on LinkedIn then you must  leverage your profile headline.

If you’re not sure how to create an effective LinkedIn headline, start with these tips of what not to do. Avoiding these headline mishaps will help you develop an eye-catching profile that gets recruiters’ attention.

1.    Forget to include keywords that relate to your career

LinkedIn uses keywords to determine if a candidate profile is of use to recruiters. The most important thing you can do with your profile is to include keywords that reference your professional skills and work experience. If you’re not sure which skills you should include, look up similar professionals and see what keywords they use.

A poor headline will have only generic keywords, like college graduate, unemployed professional or job seeker. This is what you don’t want.  Instead, include keywords that relate to your unique skill set, CRM Specialist, Social Media Manager, JavaScript Developer, etc.

2.    Include over-used buzzwords

It’s really easy to sound just like every professional on LinkedIn. Just check out LinkedIn’s annual list of the top overused profile buzzwords for some typically overused words. These words appear in too many headlines and profiles and should be avoided at all costs if you want to stand out.

Instead, find a clever way to showcase your skills without falling back on “creative team player with good communication skills.” Referencing specific past professional successes can be a great place to start.

3.    Reference your office skills

There are professional office skills that everyone is expected to have in 2014: email, Microsoft Office, etc. Don’t list out these skills in your headline. No recruiter is interested in knowing that you have a good working knowledge of Microsoft Word. If you are looking to grab a recruiter’s attention include keywords related to your unique skills that set you apart from the other people who will be applying to the position.

 4.    Overstate your seniority or LIE

Nothing will get you tossed out of contention for a job like misrepresenting yourself. Everything you include on your resume and professional profiles should be completely truthful and not overstate your background, experience and expertise.  If you want the wrong kind of attention, then be dishonest, because you will get caught and the taken out of the running for the job. To avoid this, make your resume and professional profiles consistent. Also, request recommendations from your colleagues to help validate your claims.

5.    Give an employer no reason to hire you

When a potential employer looks at your profile they want to find a reason to hire you. So if you want to get the job, out your accomplishments and what you can offer them. When a potential employer looks at your profile they don’t only want to see a qualified person, they want to see a person that will succeed at their company.

You can convey you’re this person in your headline by calling out past successes. Something like “Generated over 1 million in sales in first quarter of working at Company X” works great. By including this type of headline, a recruiter will see a candidate worth calling in for a job interview.

Although the LinkedIn headline may seem small and trivial, in truth, it is one of the most important aspects of your profile as it is the first thing recruiters will see and it will decide whether they will consider you further or move onto the next potential hire. Avoid the pitfalls listed above to create a powerful and appealing LinkedIn headline.