Your LinkedIn headline is the section at the top of your profile where you can describe what you can do in 120 characters or less.

Your headline should make readers want to click your profile to learn more about your experience and background.

I think your headline is one of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile because it appears prominently next to your name in Google or LinkedIn searches about you.

If you don’t optimize it, LinkedIn will pull your current job title as your headline. Letting LinkedIn choose your headline for you is a mistake. That’s not effectively branding yourself.

The key to a strong LinkedIn headline is to be concise, descriptive and differentiating. Discuss how you help people. It’s also important to not be boastful or to sell yourself too aggressively.

I also would highly recommend that if you are looking for a new job and are unemployed that you refrain from saying it outright. It can make you look desperate.

I use a formula of: Descriptor | Descriptor | Descriptor – these words can be nouns or adjectives – but they need to be unique to you. This format gives you more flexibility to describe yourself and what you do.

Here are some quick tips on how to create a strong LinkedIn headline:

  • Explain what you do and who you help in 120 characters or less.
  • Use keywords and phrases that a prospective client or employer might use to find you – break them up like I did in the example of my header.
  • Differentiate your headline from everyone else’s by looking at your competitors’ and colleagues’ profiles for inspiration.
  • Ask yourself, “Is it clear what I do and what I’m passionate about professionally from just looking at my headline?” If not, tweak it to reflect that.
  • Tailor it to your audience.
  • Include your value proposition.
  • Use your prospect’s language.
  • Avoid hyperbole and don’t brag. There’s nothing more off-putting (or less believable) than someone who publicly compliments themselves. For that reason, strike these adjectives (and others like them) from your headline:
    • Expert
    • Top-performing
    • Winning
    • Capable
    • Proactive
    • Dedicated
    • Hard-working

The best way to show off your skills is including success stories in your summary and prior experience.

Every word you use should be strategic – take the time to craft a strong LinkedIn headline – it’s well worth your time and effort!