Five Things Never To Say In Your LinkedIn Headline

May 03, 2016

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Your LinkedIn headline is a big piece of your branding. You can use your current job title as your LinkedIn headline but many people choose to brand themselves in a more individual way.

Here are three LinkedIn headlines to get you thinking about your own headline:

• IT Project Manager Specializing in Finance/HR Integration

This LinkedIn member already knows what s/he wants to do professionally and doesn’t have time to waste talking to people about opportunities that don’t mesh with his or her interests.

• Counselor to At-Risk Teens

This LinkedIn member has worked full-time, part-time and contract gigs and always has private clients on her schedule. She keeps her LinkedIn branding fairly broad but not so broad that when people see her LinkedIn profile, they can’t figure out what she does.

• HR Manager Focused on Recruiting

This LinkedIn user has done every kind of HR there is, but he doesn’t want to show up on LinkedIn as a person who say, “I can do everything!”

He has learned that managers have specific kinds of Business Pain. Recruiting is something that not every HR person can do, and this LinkedIn member is a good very good recruiter, so he emphasizes recruiting in his headline.

Here are five things not to say in your LinkedIn headline. These are poor branding choices for the reasons shown:

• “Award-winning,” or “Nationally Recognized”

• “Experienced, “Savvy” or “Strategic”

• Commas and Slashes

• “Change Agent” or “Problem Solver”

• “Multi-Skilled Business Professional”

When you tell us in your LinkedIn headline that you won an award or that you’re Nationally Recognized (or Globally Acclaimed, World-Renowned or Famous) you’re already grovelling, before we’ve even met!

It’s a very poor branding choice to praise yourself. We want to hear about what you love to do and are passionate about. Then we might be interested in learning about who else (apart from you) thinks you’re good at your job.

To begin your headline with your award-winning status tells  us that you are a bit insecure about your credentials. Everybody has had some kind of external acknowledgment at some point (or at least, everybody deserves to). Before you tell us what the world thinks about your work, tell us what your work is!

“Praising adjectives” like “Experienced,” “Seasoned,” “Savvy” or “Strategic” tell us nothing useful, because talk is cheap. Truly savvy people don’t stoop to tell us how awesome they are.

Have you ever read a Personals Ad (or a Tinder self-description)?

Insecure people call themselves cute and sexy. More self-assured people don’t stoop to praising themselves.

Confident people don’t beg strangers to like them. They simply say, “Here’s me” and let the rest of the LinkedIn universe decide whether they are savvy, strategic or seasoned or not.

Lists of any kind are death to a powerful brand, whether you’re branding a consumer or B2B company, a product or service or your own sturdy resume. LinkedIn headlines made up of lists of terms separated by commas or slashes are not powerful.

They read like laundry lists:

• Writer/editor/proofreader/graphic artist

What do you do with all these skills you possess? We still can’t tell.

Lists of capabilities don’t a strong message. Don’t tell us what you can do — tell  us how you use your talents to make a difference at work!

The situation does not improve when you substitute multiple commas for slashes:

• Marketing, PR, media relations, marketing communications

 We all understand that LinkedIn is a database and that the use of relevant keywords in your profile will help you be found by LinkedIn members conducting searches, but keep those keywords out of your headline!

A headline is a statement, whether it’s a headline in the New York Times or on your LinkedIn profile. Real people are not collections of miscellaneous skills. Tell us what you’re looking to use your skills to create, improve or bring about instead of listing them.

“Change Agent” and “Problem Solver” are so general that they are meaningless. Tell us what you changed and why it mattered rather than telling us that you see yourself as a change agent — something every living person must  become at some point or other.

Don’t stand outside yourself and evaluate yourself as you compose your LinkedIn profile. Because you are you, your self-evaluation isn’t credible to the rest of us. Just tell your story.

The last unfortunate LinkedIn headline branding choice on our list is the brand “everything and nothing.”

When you choose a say-nothing, boilerplate phrase like “Results-Oriented Business Professional” or “Multi-Skilled Executive” for your headline, you’re telling us “Heck, I don’t know what I want to do next. I don’t know where my strengths lie or where my path lies. I’m hoping a headhunter or my next employer will figure that out for me!”

That’s not how it works, however. In this new millennium, we are all CEOs of our own careers. No one is going to tell you what you’re meant to do professionally, but you can figure it out by listening to the signals the universe sends you.

Think about what you’re especially good at and what you love to do. Think about the kinds of work that makes you feel the most like yourself, and the most powerful.

Don’t brand yourself so broadly that you have no brand at all. Make a choice, and step up in altitude!

Personal branding is not about impressing other people. It’s about stepping into your own power. Let your headline reflect your growing flame!

 

By Liz Ryan,

Liz Ryan is the CEO and founder of Human Workplace.