Do you suffer from progressive LinkedIn Headline Degradation?
One week your headline says “Manager, Big Important Project, Acme International”and the next it says “Unemployed, Looking for Work” and finally “Will Work for Food”. Or something needy to that effect, accompanied by the sincere little suitcase icon (which we hope you’re only using on free trial).
Changing employment conditions affect everyone. More often than not, it has nothing to do with our job performance; in fact, you can be laid off because your company or client has decided to cut costs by laying off the top (= most highly paid) players.
Your LinkedIn Headline is Critical to Being Found
This said, your LinkedIn headline is the first thing most viewers see. Do you want to waste the two seconds they spend looking at your data by telling them you’re unemployed, or working a low-level “punishment job“?
Don’t risk frightening potential employers or contacts away. (We may rationally know that unemployment is not “catching”, but try telling that to your amygdala.)
Another reason not to indicate unemployment is that employers and recruiters search on keywords. Do they search on keywords like “Unemployed”? Nope. Make the LinkedIn relational database and those recruiters work for you, by stating your headline using common search terms.
Make Your Headline Seachable and Evergreen
If you created your LinkedIn profile recently, the current job title went in as the default headline. This can be just a useless to you when you are in transition, or actively targeting a different sector, as it would be if you’d used “Unemployed” as your headline.
Start your headline with a short phrase that will always be true about you – regardless of what job you are in now, because jobs change. Use familiar words that are commonly used in your profession. This covers you if you are away from LinkedIn for awhile (although if you are currently seeking work, being away from LinkedIn is not helpful).
A good headline phrase may describe your primary field (if you are looking in your primary field) or function. For example, HR Generalist, Accounting and Bookkeeping, Enterprise Software. Don’t duplicate the sectors that LinkedIn provides in the dropdown list. So for example, the corresponding sectors for these three titles might be: Government Administration, Insurance, and Management Consulting – all of which serve to further refine who you are and what you offer, in this highly searchable headline area.
If you feel stuck, go look at what your contacts have done. You can check keywords by using LinkedIn Advanced Search, and see who else is using them. If nobody else is using your keywords, you are in trouble. Very few employers or recruiters search on titles like Ideameister, VP of Fun, or Lego Guru. If you want to add a tag line into your headline, do it after the conventional words that a search engine will pick up.
Don’t worry about changing your headline a few times. Start with something that will get you found by clients and employers, then fine tune. I changed my headline five or six times before I was satisfied it accurately reflected my services and would do well in a search.
Need help with your LinkedIn headline? Feeling invisible on LinkedIn? I run regular LinkedIn workshops for people like you, or contact me to get started one-on-one with your LinkedIn profile and job search.