What is the first thing that anyone looks at on your LinkedIn account (apart from your photo, obviously)? That’s right, the headline.

This is the text immediately under your name that ‘sets out your stall’. In the early days of LinkedIn, it was common for this to simply list your job title. Now, however, things have got a bit more sophisticated. People now use their headlines as a way to showcase their skills, explain what they do, and provide some context. A good headline is a vital part of a strong personal elevator pitch, possibly even more important than your bio. If yours only has your job title, you’re missing a trick—and a valuable opportunity for self-promotion and marketing. 

Here are our tips for crafting an effective LinkedIn headline. 

Make it clear and concise

Rule #1 is to keep your headline short and sweet—but make sure it is clear. You want people to understand what you do quickly and easily. Avoid jargon, even if it is widely used in your industry or field. Remember that LinkedIn is a multinational platform, and you want everyone to understand you. In the interests of clarity, it is also worth including your unique identifier, especially if you use it as a ‘handle’ on other social media platforms. This will help ensure that people know exactly who you are, and can find you across networks.

Focus on what you do and who you help

A lot of people make the mistake of focusing on themselves in their headline. It’s natural enough: it is, after all, your headline. However, marketers will know that to sell anything, you have to focus on your customers. You don’t tell them about your product’s features or how you developed its name. Instead, you show them how the product will solve their problems. Your headline is marketing you and your skills—so explain who you help and how. Luke Shalom is a good example of both this and the previous rule, with his simple “I help Founders turn content into clients”.

Provide social proof of your claims

How do readers know that they can believe your claims? You need to provide some kind of proof: an award, recognition from someone else, or sales figures, for example. Hassan Bin Arshad’s headline states that he is “Ranked 18th for Content Marketing and Copywriting – Worldwide”. There is extra kudos if your social proof is connected to LinkedIn: Ash Rathod, for example, includes “Official LinkedIn Learning Instructor” in his headline. 

Little Asian girl taking off roller skates after riding in park

If you don’t have social proof, talk about how you’re different

There will inevitably be people who do not (yet) have social proof of the value that they provide. This is true for anyone starting out in consultancy or content provision, for example. This group should focus on what makes them unique, and how they are different from others providing a similar service. Useful phrases here might include ‘Doing x, but without y’. Jacob Pegs uses this strategy to good effect, even though he also provides social proof.

Make it personal—but not intimate

Nobody needs to know that you have children, a spouse, or parents. They probably assume you do, but they really don’t care. They also don’t need to know what you like to eat, or how you spend your downtime. LinkedIn is a professional networking tool, so keep it professional. Your professional views, opinions and expertise are one thing, but a headline of ‘cheese lover’ is unnecessarily intimate. If it wouldn’t be one of the first things you told someone at a conference, don’t put it on your headline. 

Direct people to your profile—or other call to action

Your headline needs to draw people to your profile, or another call to action. Both Richard Moore and Kate Sotsenko want people to follow their hashtags. The tags are included in their headlines with an explanation of the benefits of following. Nausheen Chen notes that there is a link to a free course in her profile, and invites people to ‘grab’ it. The idea is to encourage people to find out more about you and the services you offer.

Tailor your headline to your audience

As with any social media activity, there is no ‘one size fits all’ to crafting a headline. You have to tailor it to your audience, your sector and your services. Only you can decide what is most appropriate for your audience, and what will draw them in most effectively.