Networking and human interactions are the cornerstone of success in anything that we do in life – nobody is a success on their own. The best time to tune up your LinkedIn profile is before you need to use it to network, look for a job or brand yourself (as Harvey MacKay’s fantastic networking book advises, Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty).
This article provides an overview of how to prepare an impactful and complete LinkedIn headline, regardless of profession, experience or sector. I will draw on a real example of a summary that I helped a client to reword and rebrand with.
Say it in 120 characters
This is the first thing that a reader sees on your LinkedIn profile. This “headline” sits right beneath your profile picture and is used to quickly identify who you are and the value that you offer as a professional, so take care to be exact and deliver value here first. LinkedIn restricts this to 120 characters or less.
My client wanted to write:
“Ambitious sales and marketing professional seeking new opportunities in sales management, marketing, key accounts management and trade marketing.” (144 characters with spaces)
This headline is too long. It is also ambiguous in its message – there is not enough here to convince a potential connection of the value that the jobseeker is going to bring. This headline also does make adequate use of searchable keywords that reflect the needs of potential connections.
To write your headline, start by selecting three keywords and writing one unique value proposition (UVP).
How to select strong keywords
Think about the keywords that a recruiter might use in their search when seeking talent or making connections on behalf of an employer. These are the skills you want to highlight. Mine and investigate other profiles to look for patterns. Make a list of the keywords you see highlighted in people working in related roles. With hundreds of millions of profiles out there, a little redundancy in profile creation is to be expected. The process is NOT to copy another profile. However, if you are seeking to describe your skills to potential employers, you want to see what your competition is saying. This will allow you to highlight your value in a dynamic and interesting way – and in a way that is familiar to other users.
For the client example above, three relevant keywords are: marketing analysis, growth mindset and accounts management.
Communicating your unique value
In a nutshell, the unique value proposition (UVP) is a clear statement that:
- Explains how your presence and skill set can help a potential LinkedIn connection you are focused on interacting with (eg, employer, recruiter, peer) solve their problems or improve their situation so they have a desire to connect and build a relationship with you.
- Delivers specific benefits (quantified value to the potential connection and those they know).
- Tells the ideal connection(s) why they should network and communicate with you first – help them to see your skills and talents as a value to them, their business, their network.
You are going to use the UVP in a very compact way in the headline and then expand on it in the summary section. Keep the headline simple and relevant, and use numbers where you can, as they are the language of business.
Applying this process of keyword research and UVP development, the example client’s headline might look something like:
“Experienced account manager known for leveraging a growth mindset in market analysis to create compelling buyer stories.”
This is 120 characters (including spaces), which is the limit you can use.
In the next article, I will outline how to craft a summary, looking at specific considerations when writing for others, questions to ask and the limits your entire profile must keep to.