How to Craft the Perfect LinkedIn Headline + Examples
by Hung Nguyen
Turn your default LinkedIn headline from "meh" to YEAH!—with tips and examples from 20+ LinkedIn experts.
Turn your default LinkedIn headline from "meh" to YEAH!—with tips and examples from 20+ LinkedIn experts.
The default LinkedIn headline is, well, basic by default. If you're happy with your current role, don't rely on the platform for work, and it serves its purpose as a place to connect with your network—then it's fine as it is.
However, LinkedIn is more than a job-hunting tool for many. Branded as the world's largest professional network, it boasts a user base of over 690 million users. Professionals from all over the globe use it daily to prospect, recruit, and grow their businesses.
How to Create an Effective LinkedIn Headline
Bump up the character limit to 210 characters
Include search keywords to increase profile visibility
Use your prospect's language
Remove power keywords, filler objectives, and superlative phrases
Add value proposition
Don't brag, but don't sell yourself short
Source: Unsplash/Ben Kolde
What is a Headline on LinkedIn?
For many users, the LinkedIn headline acts as a free mini-advertisement. “It displays next to your name and profile photo, whenever users see you in their feed ... making it a powerful and easy way to increase top-of-funnel awareness for your brand,” says Jayson DeMers, CEO of EmailAnalytics.
But how can you stand out on a platform used by almost a billion business users?
Rather than telling you what makes a great headline in our opinions, we asked dozens of LinkedIn experts to chime on this topic.
To begin, think about how you can distinguish yourself from the pool of professionals with similar default headlines.
Tajuana Ross, #1 Best Selling Author of Class Is Now In Session... Your 21 LinkedIn Questions Answered, shares: “When I coach my clients on creating a headline that rocks ... we do that by coupling a value proposition with a series of their superpowers.
The result is a statement that shows their differentiation (their 'special sauce'), some personality, and it increases their chances of being found for keywords that reflect their main strengths.”
But What’s My Special Sauce?
That depends on your area of expertise, target audience, the values that you can bring. The first step is to define your mission:
Ron Stefanski of One Hour Professor adds, “Writing an eye-capturing LinkedIn headline depends on the type of job you’re doing and your reason for using Linkedin. That’s why the first step is determining which style of writing you want to use.”
Stefanski continues: “Typically, there are three main styles:
Client-oriented if your main goal is to attract new clients.
Person-oriented, if you’re hoping to find another employment.
Mission-centric, in case you’re building your brand.”
Once you decide on the format, let’s proceed to work on the copy.
Is there a Formula for the Perfect Linkedin Headline?
Apparently not, but having a template always helps.
Daniel Caughill of The Dog Tale advises on the need to have at least four out of five crucial elements in your LinkedIn profile headline:
Your job title
Your company name
Your most impressive accomplishment
Keywords related to your industry
A sentiment statement
Caughill shares: “Your job title and company are pretty straightforward. Keywords for your industry may overlap with your title, but they could also be variations that potential HR professionals would search for when seeking someone like you.”
The last two items are where you really can set yourself apart. Try to state an impressive accomplishment you’ve made in three or four words, such as ‘Creator of X Podcast’ or ‘Organizer of Y Event’—anything that relates to but expands upon your authority in the industry.
Finally, your sentiment statement summarizes your ideal as it relates to your profession. It’s your tag line. Do you foster a company culture that makes employees want to come to work? Do you change industries through female leadership? What makes your professional brand stand out?
Be sure to include a sentiment statement for the best LinkedIn headline.
You may not be able to fit each of these items in your headline, but if you can cover four of them, you’ll have a strong profile.”
Another example of how to create a catchy LinkedIn headline came from Hirewell's James Hornick, whose profile reads:
“I Help People Become Better Job Seekers. Partner at Hirewell & Careerwell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.”
“Not only is the headline the first thing someone sees when they visit your profile, but it follows you around anytime you comment on someone’s post. Not making it ‘pop’ is a huge miss,” he mentions.
The headline states what he does, where he works, and his love for making jokes. Hornick adds, “My advice is to make it descriptive in plain language, fun, and true to your personality.”
While there is an underlying principle to good headlines (as illustrated above), there is no exact distinct formula.
Invoice Quick’s Alex Pesic shares, “There was a period when everyone was using ‘I help people do X.’ The story behind it is that you should explain what you do and that the words ‘I’ help make you seem more relatable. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t any other way to accomplish this, and it will depend on your objective and your personality.”
Pesic continues, “If you want recruiters to find you, you should put titles and keywords they would use to search for candidates. If you have a website and your only goal is for people to see it—include the domain name in the headline. And if you are in the corporate world, you’d probably want to stick to job titles and avoid power words or statements.”
And finally, he adds: “Imagine a comic, which headline would entice you to see their live show?
- I help people laugh.
- Kind of an asshole. But my LinkedIn profile says I am the second coming of Jesus.”
Using “you” has its perks, though. WebQuest’s Mazen Aloul debates: “As much as possible, you want readers to know what you can do for them, so the first step you have to do is to connect with them. Your headline should sound like you’re talking to then rather than just plainly describing yourself.”
Example: “Direct marketing guaranteed to get you more business.”
And that is to cement the fact that there are no rights and wrongs. Practice until you hit the right spot and reach your desired level of engagement.
Alex Pesic previously mentioned using the word “I” instead of “you” to increase the relatability of your brand. To push this further, you should also omit writing in third-person.
Your profile is under your control, and so is your content—writing in the third person for both the headline and bio is counter-productive. It can also come off as very sale-sy. Unless, of course, you have a personal assistant running your social media.
Regarding this topic, Stacy Caprio adds, “Anyone reading your profile and headline knows that you were the one who wrote it, not someone else writing about you. Writing your headline in the third person is just disconnected and has an off vibe. Leave the third person to your recommendation section where other people are actually writing about you.”
The 120 Character Limit
Now that you have a rough idea of what a good headline should look like, it’s time to consolidate your thoughts into 120 characters.
If you find summarizing yourself daunting—you’re in luck. Thanks to Karlyn Ankrom from Oh Snap Social, there is a trick to bump up the character limit to 210—a whopping 75% increase in space.
Ankrom shares: “When updating your headline on the LinkedIn mobile app, you have 210 characters vs. the 120 that’s allotted on desktop. That’s why some folks have headlines that are three lines long on the platform!”
You heard right! So grab your mobile phone and download the LinkedIn app—as you’ll be ready to write that LinkedIn headline in a few minutes.
Keywords to Use in Your LinkedIn Headline
LinkedIn has a separate algorithm on rankings and displays user profiles based on specific search terms. But unlike SEO tools, there aren’t many (if any) means of keyword exploration. The only information you get is a brief weekly update every Friday, which reveals the number of impressions your profile yields and some data on keywords used by searchers.
Now, it’s a very dreadful task to pick the most relevant keywords for a LinkedIn headline. For job-seekers—there are many titles you can use? If you’re prospecting—what are your top core values?
We received a brilliant, brilliant idea from Kris Burnett, Cost Accountant at BG Products, on how to identify keywords by using a Word Counter and looking at job ads.
Find job postings for positions you would like to have. They don’t have to be local—they just need to describe your “ideal job.”
Paste the body of those job postings into a word counting tool, such as wordcounter.net or similar.
What you’re looking for is the most frequently used keywords or phrases.
Pick a few that apply to you.
Start your LinkedIn headline with your current job title. Then add a separator (e.g., |, -, or ~). Next, add one of those keywords or phrases.
Add another separator and then another keyword. Repeat until you’ve maxed out the available space as best as you can.
This method is outstanding because it covers all spectrum of keywords that recruiters or potential customers search for, from job titles to industry-specific terms.
But even without looking at job ads—you know your credentials best. Think back to what you have, and what you enjoy delivering in your work.
Nancy Medoff, a Personal Brand Strategist, perfectly summarizes the use of keywords in writing your LinkedIn headline:
“Using keywords is, well, key. It’s a balance between showing up in searches and spicing up your headline to show what makes you unique. Results-oriented, driven, team player are a few of the most overused and unexciting phrases on LinkedIn. Take them out and find another creative way to describe your value and what makes you UNIQUE.”
Medoff advises: “A powerful and persuasive headline is a game-changer and the most important tool to differentiate yourself in a sea of sameness. The #1 way to approach this daunting task is to think of your headline as your personal positioning statement. Who you are. What you do. And, most importantly—why you.
It’s also important to consider your tone and don’t be afraid to have some fun. The key here is to stand out and get attention. Naturally, you want to project a professional image, and, in this case, creativity can be combined with professionalism for a headline that will pop.
And lastly, practice. Practice saying your headline. You can repurpose your personal positioning statement almost everywhere: Cover letters, skills summary, your introduction when networking—the list is endless. So, practice. The more you practice, the more you will communicate with certainty, clarity, and confidence. You’ve taken it this far—now pull this through everywhere.”
The Vertical Bar
Since we are on the topic of space-efficiency: a useful tip to save space is using the vertical bar (|) in your headline. For instance, Linda Qu of Jobscan gave the following example:
“Senior Digital Marketing Manager | Digital Transformation CRM | B2B and B2C Customer Experience | Corgi Lover”
Qu adds, “The most important search keyword is the current job title (or the title of a job you’re looking for), then a ton of meaningful and frequently searched hard skills related to the job ... It’s also ok to add a personal phrase like in the example above, such as “Corgi Lover,” “Marvel Movie Enthusiast,” or “Kit-Kat Junkie.” It can just be a fun and quirky touch that sets yourself apart.”
Unless you dwell in the corporate world, add as much of your personality to your headline, as you can. Before you can expand on the business side of things, remember that you’re connecting with real people!
Make use of the vertical pipe in your LinkedIn headline!
Optimize Content for Search Engines
The LinkedIn search bar is not the only place that allows for profile visibility. Search engines (such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo) index most LinkedIn profiles—and you can control what information is for public display (to non-registered users).
If you are an SEO professional or are familiar with content SEO practices—E-A-T is very much prevalent for LinkedIn. When crafting your headline, think of integrating Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness into your copy.
Also, long-tailed keywords are useful to help to narrow down your targeted market.
Carmine Mastropierro, who runs a copywriting agency, suggests “targeting specific keywords in the headline related to your specialty and location to improve visibility and get you found by more prospects.
Mastropierro shares, “For instance, you could write a headline like ‘Manhattan Freelance Marketer’ or ‘Seattle Venture Capitalist’ because they niche down into a single location and role. LinkedIn users searching for those specific terms will be much more likely to come across your profile and engage with you.”
Popular SEO tools such as Moz and SEMrush usually come with a limited free version—enough for you to run a few search queries and decide on the local keyword to use.
What about what values you could deliver to your prospects? What will prompt a potential client, or a hiring manager to click your headline and visit your profile?
Petra Odak, CMO at Better Proposals, provided us with her number one tip on writing a headline that gets results:
“... [F]ocus on the value that the potential client or customer gets from you. Don’t stick to awards, accomplishments, or fancy titles. Instead, write about what you do and how you can help the person reading.”
Odak adds, “For example, if you’re a marketer, you can write something like, ‘I help SaaS companies increase their organic traffic and conversions through content marketing and SEO.’
This example is much better than ‘Content marketing and SEO guru, CEO of Acme Agency.’ The reader immediately gets what you do and what kind of value you can provide to them.”
Add Figures, Omit Filler Objectives, Jargons, and Superlatives
Your LinkedIn Headline is a form of micro-copy. You want it to be crisp, clear, and concise.
Dusan Goljic advises: “LinkedIn users should avoid putting ‘superlative’ phrases such as motivated, goal-focused, responsible— because that’s expected from employees to have. Instead, keywords should contain insights into your technical skills.” Otherwise, these phrases do not add any value to your credentials.
Matt Erhard of Summit Search Group echoes the same sentiment: “The goal of the headline is to entice people to read your full profile, and the best way to do that is to highlight your most valuable skills and experience in a clear, straightforward way. Leave out filler adjectives like ‘excellent’ or ‘skilled,’ which can come across as bragging. Instead, give specifics about your skills and accomplishments that tell recruiters and hiring managers why they should read more about you.”
An example of a great headline is:
“Human Resources Manager at Company X | | SHRM Certified | 15+ Years in People Management”
Allan Borch of Dotcom Dollar adds, “... [I]nstead of stringing a bunch of jargon together like “Affiliate SEO | CRO | Content Creation and Distribution,” I would write ‘I boost visibility for products through quality content and help bloggers monetize their articles on the web.’”
Furthermore, Borch mentions the usefulness of writing in your prospect’s language: The clearer your message, the higher the chance of connecting. And the best way to craft these messages simply comes from going through previous emails of similar prospects or clients in the same industry.
Borch shares, “In relation to this, another thing I do is to reread the first few emails from previous customers. I’m looking at how they described their challenges and needs and take note of the words, phrases, or situations that show up repeatedly. I then use these words on my headline as well as the rest of my LinkedIn profile. This tactic has worked the best and allowed me to grow my network successfully.”
Examples of Good LinkedIn Headlines
Here is a collection of headlines for your inspiration.
The Blue Haired Recruiter 🦄 | Builder of Inclusive Cultures | Startup Enthusiast | VP of People @ Sourced Craft Cocktails (Source: James Hornick, Hirewell & Careerwell)
Currently Looking | HR Business Partner | Talent Acquisition | Perennially disappointed Dallas Cowboys fan (Source: James Hornick, Hirewell & Careerwell)
SEO and Social Media Marketing | Featured In Entrepreneur | Grew Startup traffic to 5 Million+ visitors in less than 1 year. (Source: Rameez Ghayas Usmani, PureVPN)
I Perform Wandless Magic, the Result of Which is That Your SEO Starts to Work, and Your Site Starts to Rank (Source: Nikola Roza, Nicola Roza)
Millennial Love Expert / Dating + Relationship + Life Coach / Founder of one of the famous Dating Website “Love and Life” (Source: Sonya Schwartz, Her Norm)
Professional & Motivational Speaker / Cybersecurity and Risk Executive Advisor / Lecturer / Mentor / Author (Source: Sonya Schwartz, Her Norm)
Junior Digital Marketing Manager | eCommerce Marketing | B2B & B2C Sales Letters | Digital Transformation CX (Source: Tim Reitsma, People Managing People)
Recruiting Manager @ Boulevard Recruiting| 🦄 Unicorn Hunter | Diversity Champion (Source: Kevin Miller, The Word Counter)
Scot Chrisman | I help businesses impact more clients and increase their bottom line with digital marketing strategy and implementation. (Source: Scot J Chrisman, The Media House)
Digital Work Made Easy
You’ve reached the end of this three thousand word article! I hope you’re ready to craft your microcopy of a headline and take on the world of networking!
And if you are a job seeker, needing help with applications—writing a compelling headline is only the beginning. Afterward, you have to send your application, interview, and persuade hiring managers that you’re the perfect fit.
Same for sales and marketing professionals—you have to prospect, exchange documentation, and arrange calls with potential clients until they’re yours.
And while you have to take on most of the work, Smallpdf, our platform, offers more than a dozen of online tools to help with digital document management. If you ever need to compress large files for emails, merge presentations into a PDF, or digitally sign a contract—check us out!