If your LinkedIn headline is like many, it's actually doing your personal brand more harm than good. Before discussing what you should write for your LinkedIn headline, here are four ways your LinkedIn headline can destroy your perceived value:
1. It's not original. Phrases like "outside-the-box thinker" or "problem-solver" or "strategic visionary" mean absolutely nothing and will not impress or intrigue anyone. If your headline is full of clichés, you'll just be seen as a low-value commodity.
2. It's confusing. If someone is confused about what you do, you will probably not be asked for clarification. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a job-seeker, or a happily employed professional, be clear in explaining how you make other people/organizations better.
3. It's boring. It's amazing how many people just use their job title and name of employer as their headline. You are much more than your job title. Provide evidence for your value/credibility by highlighting your most impressive/relevant achievement, honor, award, or third-party recognition/affiliation.
4. It's desperate. If you are out of work, don't say that you are unemployed or that you are "seeking new opportunities." This sounds incredibly desperate and undermines your value. You should not be sitting back waiting for recruiters or hiring managers to find you anyway. You should be proactively seeking opportunities on your own. In addition, no one cares what you are looking for (which is also why most résumé objectives are pointless). People care about how you can make their life/job easier and how you can solve their specific problems.
[Related: 6 secrets to create a powerful LinkedIn summary]
Now that we have discussed what not to do, here is an easy four-step process ("what-who-how-proof") that you can follow to create a powerful LinkedIn headline:
- Step 1: Say what you are.
- Step 2: Say whom you help.
- Step 3: Say how you make their life/work better.
- Step 4: Give proof that you are credible.
Here are three examples (note: the last example was my LinkedIn headline when this article went to print):
- Executive Recruiter who helps Fortune 500 companies find top tech talent. Clients include Google and IBM
- Personal Trainer who helps youth get healthier, stronger, and faster. Former head trainer for the NY Jets
- Speaker/Author/Coach who helps job-seekers get their dream jobs. Featured on Fox/CBS/CNN
With each of these headlines, you immediately know what the person does, whom they help, how they help them, and why they are credible. Your LinkedIn headline is valuable real estate, so don't waste any of the 120 characters that LinkedIn gives you!
Pete Leibman is the founder of Dream Job Academy and the author of "I Got My Dream Job and So Can You." His career advice has been featured on Fox, CBS, and CNN. A version of this article originally appeared on Personal Branding Blog.