I look at a lot of LinkedIn profiles of executive job seekers.
Many of their profile headlines have not been touched by human hands. They haven’t changed the default headline automatically populated for this spot, based upon their current, or most recent job title.
A headline like “CIO at XYZ company” may or may not be helping them.
Not only is your headline one of the first things people will see on your profile – second to your photo – it’s the thumbprint first impression that’s carried along throughout all your LinkedIn activities, to help describe and distinguish your value.
Your professional headline and photo show up when you:
- Publish an article on the LinkedIn Pulse publishing platform.
- Post something to a LinkedIn Group.
- Post an update to your profile.
- Send someone a LinkedIn InMail . . . your headline and photo go with you there, too.
And most especially, your headline is the most important SEO (search engine optimization) spot on your profile.
One of the main ways recruiters and hiring decision makers at your target companies identify good-fit candidates is by searching relevant keywords on LinkedIn. Through company and industry research, you need to identify which keywords and phrases must be in your headline and elsewhere in your LinkedIn profile.
Get the best impact with your LinkedIn profile. Don’t make these 3 mistakes in your LinkedIn professional headline
1. Neglecting the right keywords
As much as I’d like people to reinforce their personal brand by getting some personality in their headline, I feel packing it with keywords is more important. For the most part, save the descriptive adjectives for your Summary and Experience sections, and elsewhere.
You should use your headline as a means to draw people to your profile. That means making sure it contains the keywords the people you want to attract will be searching on LinkedIn to find people like you.
2. Typos, misspellings, abbreviations, and spacing issues
LinkedIn and other search engines may not recognize phrases that vary from the exact words in any way.
- Proofread diligently for typos and misspellings.
- Avoid abbreviations.
- Be careful using characters to separate words and phrases. Leave a space between commas, slashes (“/”), dashes (“–“), pipes (“|”), etc.
For instance, the phrase “CFO, Senior Finance Manager” may be doomed, if it looks like any of these:
CFO, Senior Finance Manger (Manager is misspelled)
CFO, Senior Finance Mgr (Manager is abbreviated)
CFO/Senior Finance Manager (slash with no spaces)
CFO|Senior Finance Manager (pipe with no spaces)
CFO–Senior Finance Manager (dash with no spaces)
3. Too many superfluous words
Space is limited in the headline to 120 characters and spaces. You must use that space to your best advantage.
An expressive word or two is okay (such as “gutsy” or “pioneer”) for emphasis, but you should be concentrating on getting your most important relevant keywords and phrases in there.
Place statements like “seeking opportunities in XYZ” or even jazzy ones like “I help sales teams soar” in your Summary section instead.
An example of a poorly created professional headline
Here’s a well-written headline that may be doomed because of formatting issues and other mistakes. Can you spot them?
CFO-Senior Finance/Operations Excutive – Alternative & Mobile Paymts Pioneer, Global Montization, E-commerce, SaaS, M&A
Formatting issues: No space between CFO and Senior, and no space between Finance and Operations
Misspellings: Executive and Monetization
Other: Abbreviation of Payments
Here’s one (at 115 characters and spaces) that is much more likely to help that person’s profile land higher in search results. It’s better to sacrifice one of the keywords, so that the rest of them will be parsed correctly by search engines.
CFO, Senior Finance & Operations Executive – Alternative & Mobile Payments Pioneer, Global Monetization, E-commerce, M&A
More About LinkedIn and Executive Job Search:
graphic by Meredith Atwater