How to Write a LinkedIn Headline that will Attract Recruiters

job search linkedin Jul 01, 2018

When recruiters or hiring leaders review your LinkedIn profile, the first area they see is your profile headline. Your LinkedIn profile headline is the very first sentence opposite your photo and under your name. 

Having a well-written profile headline can help catch a recruiter’s attention by giving him/her a clear understanding of the value you offer from a professional standpoint and where you are interested in moving next.

First, let’s look at what not to do when crafting your headline and why. The three examples below are what we (recruiters), unfortunately, see 99.9% of the time.

Example #1 of what not to write in your LinkedIn profile headline: 

‘Marketing Director at X company’ or ‘Marketing Director’ or ‘Software Engineer’

95% of people note their current job title and or place of employment. This is a wasted use of the headline area (you have 117-character spaces to use for your headline). Your current title and place of employment, which is the exact same information, is noted two lines beneath the headline. So why repeat the information? Also, if you work for a company that is not a well-branded company (i.e. Google, Apple, Spotify, FB), the name will be lost on many recruiters.

Example #2 of what not to write in your LinkedIn profile headline: 

'actively searching' or 'open for hire' 

When a recruiter does a search for a position, they search for ‘specific titles,’ not ‘open for hire.’ Also, these headlines send an air of desperation. Most companies prefer to hire candidates who are busy doing a great job in their current position rather than candidates who are unemployed or seemingly unengaged in their current role. 

But how do I let recruiters know I'm open to new opportunities if I don't state it in the profile headline?
1.) Go to the little photo of you (ME) in the navigation bar
2.) Click on the Privacy and Settings tab.
3.) Click Privacy.
4.) Scroll to Job Seeking Preferences.
5.) Move the button to show: 'Let recruiters know you’re open to opportunities.' (This will let recruiters who are outside of your organization know you are open to new opportunities).

Example #3 of what not to write in your LinkedIn profile headline:

‘Innovative and highly creative UX Designer’

There used to be a fad of using an interesting or eye-catching headline on LinkedIn, but it was way too fluffy and focused on soft-skills (not tangible) – thankfully, there are much fewer of these now.

This headline is an 8 out of 10:

‘Product Management Executive | Consumer, SMB, Fintech, Mobile, SaaS.’

This individual did a pretty good job, but there's still room for improvement. He should be:

  • more specific with his level/title ('Executive' is too general)
  • state the environment in which he works or would be most interested in pursuing next
An effective LinkedIn profile headline should highlight and include the following:
  • Your professional level/title today (e.g. VP, Director, Manager). Your level is not always the same as your title. If you are open to exploring different work environments from a size perspective, consider tailoring your level to also align to the title that would be most relevant to the other company environments. 

  • Your functional area of expertise, aligned with where you want to evolve your career (e.g. Marketing, UX, Product Management, HR, Sales Engineer, Network Administrator, etc.). If you have a technical background, note your experience with core programming languages, scale, frameworks or platforms, technical environments, etc. 

  • Your education, if it is post-graduate, and or, relevant to your professional area of focus.

  • Your industry experience (e.g. SaaS, Networking, Ecommerce, FinTech, Healthcare, Pharma, etc.); highlight the industry in which you are most interested in continuing.             

  • Company environment/size (i.e., rapidly growing startup, large global complex org, etc.); highlight the environments you are most interested in moving in to next. 

Level vs. Title

My title today is VP; can’t I just put ‘VP’ in my headline?
If you are a VP at a 100-person startup, and you now want to move into a mid-sized organization with 1000 employees or more, you will not be seen as a qualified candidate for a VP level role at a 1000+ person company or even a 600-person company. You would be more likely to be regarded as a qualified Director level for a company with approx. 600-3000 employees.

As a result, the level you should highlight in your headline should be ‘Director/VP.’ By adding 'Director,' this will also ensure you come up in relevant searches for both mid-size (your target companies) and startup organizations.

Figure out what level you should put in your headline by:
1.) thinking about the title of the role you want to receive job inquiries for, and
2.) if you will genuinely be considered qualified for this level   


Currently a CTO/Founder at a 5 to 10-person startup. Previous role was a Sr. Director Technology at 3500-person organization. He decides he wants to move back into a more mature and established organization. Despite being a current CTO, if he wants to move back into an organization of 500-4000 employees, the level of role he will be seen as MOST qualified for will be a ‘Sr. Director' or 'VP’ level. If he writes ‘Founder’ as his main job title, he puts himself at a disadvantage, as a recruiter will rarely if ever do a search for ‘Founder.’

Therefore, in his profile headline, he should use a dual title: “Sr. Director/VP Technology mid-sized B2B SaaS organizations and fast-paced innovative startups.” This headline is the best match for the level he would be qualified for with larger start-ups or mid-sized organizations, and will catch the recruiter's eye for both VP & Director roles.

Your goal as your craft your LinkedIn profile headline is to use the 117 character spaces to send a clear message of the professional value you can offer and also direct the recruiter with regard to where you want to move next in your career, so you get more relevant job inquiries coming to you.

If you'd like a little more assistance in implementing these steps, watch my free video tutorial for step-by-step instructions. Or if you'd like more 1:1 coaching, redeem your free Career Consult today.


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