Project Your Ideal Image: How to Use LinkedIn Headlines Correctly

What is in a job title? Aren't you so much more than that?

After all, as a job seeker, unless you are selected for interview, odds are you will likely not be able to show a recruiter your true personality. Conversely, as a recruiter, the likelihood is high that you will miss out on a lot of qualified hires simply because you don’t know how to project your company's personality digitally. It’s not easy – or at least it doesn’t seem that way…

Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game…there are choices that recruiters and candidates can make to push themselves forward professionally and one is as simple as choosing the right headline on LinkedIn. 

What Does Your Headline Say Now?

Chances are, if you are reading this article, your LinkedIn headline says something like:

John Smith
Current Role at Company

That stands to reason as it is the default function of the platform, but in this case, the default isn’t the best choice. According to LinkedIn, “Your professional headline is the text below your name in the introduction card on your profile. It's displayed in search results and can be separate from the title of your current position. Your headline is usually created when you add a new and current position to your profile, and it can be used to promote an area of expertise.” 

In the past, we’ve made numerous references to the fact that LinkedIn is at the heart of all things, a search engine. The content, people and many more aspects are fully searchable. Most importantly, this includes your headline! In fact, according to a recent Forbes article by Robin Ryan, “It is the most searched section on LinkedIn’s platform.”

Armed with that knowledge, are you ready to make changes to optimize your headline and get found by candidates seeking roles or recruiters searching for talent? 

The Rules


In order for your keyword phrases to be searched correctly, it is essential to format your headline for searches. For instance, it would be very unlikely that someone would search specifically for a “Photographer Writer Content Manager Harger Howe Advertising,” but if you break it up to “Writer I Photographer I Creative Content Manager at Harger Howe Advertising” using divider lines that same person would now have three searchable, more relatable keywords.

We are actively running a test with our Creative Content Manager’s newly updated LinkedIn headline to see if she receives more searches this time next month. Below you will note that she currently receives 69 Profile Views, 29 Post Views and she has appeared in 64 Searches. Check back on April 11, 2019 to see if this has improved!

Gillian's LinkedIn 3-11-19

What You Want Versus What You Are

Your choice of phrasing and words will depend largely on what you are and what your goals are. If you are seeking a job in the IT field, your headline may perform better if you chose to say something like:

Katerina (Kathy) Kubec
Entrepreneur | IT Industry Expert | End to End Full Service Provider

Now, we should state here that we do not know Katerina (Kathy) Kubec, but I DO know that when I searched “IT” as a keyword, hers was the first profile out of two pages of pros that came up with anything other than a job title. Differentiator? I think so! 

Notice that Kathy has positioned herself as an expert, she has divided her keywords for search optimization and that she is promoting her full-service ability. It’s a great package.

How about someone who is looking for a role in the marketing industry? A top example would be this one:

Rachel Wright
Media Relations | Professional Communicator |Subpar LinkedIn Headline Writer

Again, we don’t know Rachel, but we do know that she’s in the media industry and that she’s at least a little bit funny in a self-deprecating way. Who knew you could put personality into your headline? Rachel did!

Finally, let’s talk about recruiters who are using their headlines well. First of all…it too us thirteen pages to find one who is doing more than the default, but we did find one!

Amanda Leisman
Marketing, Communications and Digital Recruiter

While Amanda’s headline doesn’t show you much of her as a person, it does show you what searches she sources for. We know right off the bat that she looks for Marketing, Communications and Digital professionals. Not only does that make it easier for job seekers in that industry to find her…it also makes it simple for those who are not in that industry to move along!

According to themuse, this section should answer one important question…“so what?” They also recommend that you focus in on talking specifically to your ideal audience, show value and of course…get those keywords in there! You can read the rest of the article here.


Like anything in life, LinkedIn headlines have character limits. In this case, the headline is similar to Twitter in that it allows for 120 characters (in the old days Twitter allowed 140 and now it gives us 280). In essence, LinkedIn wants you to keep it concise, but interesting.

If you’d like to read more about limits on LinkedIn, we highly recommend this blog from, which is where we found our 120 character limit information for this piece.


There is a lot more to LinkedIn than the headline. The profile picture, the synopsis, the formatting…it all matters! If you want to optimize your experience on the platform, contact us!

Contact Mike Walsh