Why LinkedIn Headlines and Summaries Make OR Break You - 5 Do's and Don'ts

By Carmen Jeffery

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Here’s the thing about LinkedIn, everyone is on it and it’s nothing new.

It’s like a dirt road turned super highway that needs some good yellow lines, off ramps and traffic rules.

As a recruiter I see up to 50+ invites can accumulate in my in box if I let things go for 3 days. When I look and see whose connecting with me, 80% of the people I don’t know. Since I’m a generalist recruiter and have sourced everything from Mining GMs to Information Architects, I accept invites from anyone who looks like they would be hard to find on a search or if they could possibly become clients.  I don’t have time to click to their profile page, so if I like their headline and their email introductions I accept.


Think about Your Visibility and First Impressions

There are two key areas you as a LinkedIn member need to think about when it comes to being found, your visibility and first impressions.  One, your headline and summary will make or break you as a prospective candidate or connection. Two, your audience only sees the first few lines of your profile when they use LinkedIn advanced search or Boolean search on Google. On LinkedIn it’s the first 3 lines, on Google it’s the first 6. In Google, the viewer gets a snap shot of the first 4 lines of your summary which is why so many recruiters use Google to source.

NOTE: If you want to learn more about using Boolean search strings on LinkedIn, Glen Cathey is the master; his web site can be found here www.booleanblackbelt.com

Here are two examples of profiles I found using a Boolean search on Google, I was sourcing senior organizational design consultants. (I’ve taken out the names etc.)

Check them both out, to me A is the stronger of the two. I get a lot more information about my target and because I’m looking for someone senior, A  gives me assurance that my target has tenure. B is clearly a junior candidate who has spent too much time talking about his or her personality over their qualifications

A. Name Name, MBA – Canada | LinkedIn
ca.linkedin.com/pub/name name
Toronto, Canada Area – Principal Consultant, Organizational  Development
Name Name has over 15 years of consulting experience specializing in … corporate finance, organizational design, business transformation and … Works at ____ a global leader in Human Capital consulting from their Toronto offices and is involved in …

B. Name Name – Canada | LinkedIn
ca.linkedin.com/in/name name
Toronto, Canada Area – Organizational and Leadership Development Professional | HR and Talent Management Enthusiast
Enthusiastic and vibrant student graduated from the University of Toronto with … in Human Resources, Organizational Development & Leadership Consulting

If headlines and summaries are what make or break your path into a larger network on LinkedIn, here are 5 do’s and don’ts to consider.

LinkedIn - 5 Do's and Don'ts To Consider

1. Use a headline and summary that describes what you do professionally, make it fact based and skip adjectives.
2. Create a summary that tells your story within the first 3 lines, years of experience, place of employment, expertise any certifications…get them into the first 3 lines.
3. Craft a custom email when you invite people to connect that you don’t know, explain why you think your connection is of value to them.
4. State your work experience right after your summary, don’t put recommendations or blogs ahead of your work history, if you’re looking for work, your work is what matters.
5. Offer to do something for people you don’t know when you're inviting them to connect, if you can’t help them, don’t send the invite.

1. Use adjectives in your headline or summary, words like accomplished, seasoned, tenured, driven, polished, passionate are meaningless
2. Use the invite copy that LinkedIn provides when you send an invite
3. Write a summary that talks about the kind of person you are, no one cares about how you see yourself.
4. Send invites to people you don’t know without explaining why your connection is of value to them
5. Ask for help from people you don’t know and want to connect with, it’s a turn off and no one has time

Author Info

Check out my website to learn more about me and the work I do:

You'll see my Blog, my approach to recruitment and what I've been up to on Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.                                                      

I'm a freelance recruiter and job search coach based in Toronto, Canada. I have a passion for working with growth companies and sourcing their interim or full-time executives. My 15 years in recruitment encompasses work with technology start-ups as well as companies who are going through transformation and change. I thrive when I'm working with dynamic teams who achieve great things with the ground moving beneth their feet.


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