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I am a fan of LinkedIn – I use it, I write about it and I think that every job seeker and employee, should have a profile on LinkedIn. Spending time on your profile, making meaningful connections and interacting with potential employers is awesome. But for some reason, people forget to put as much effort and energy into their headline. And let me tell you, there are some fantastic and fantastically awful headlines out there.

How Does Your Headline Represent You?

There are two headlines really – the real headline that you are asked to type in, and the one that is automatically fed from your current place of employment. More often than not, people forget about updating the manual headline, so there two “about me” attention grabbers, are at complete conflict with each other.

Lacks attention to detail. If your two “headlines” are not correlated in any way, it looks (rightfully so) as though you are not paying attention to all of the moving pieces, and you are focusing on only the auto-feed details. For any position that has a need for “attention to detail,” and really – I can’t think of one job posting that I have seen lately that hasn’t had that as a requirement, you will be booted out of the running immediately.

Sally Sue  – Director, Marketing at Apparel Company; Marketing Associate at Retail Store

Um… what? How can you be both? Were you ever a marketing director, and if so, why are you an associate now? What is the story that you are trying to tell? How am I sold that you are right for my job when all I can think about is what is your current job? That is confusing to say the least.

Selling yourself before we’ve even said hello. Your headline is literally a three-second-or less advertisement. And no one wants to be interested in a slimy salesman, right? So why are you using your headline to be a quick snapshot of how fantastic you are without providing any substantive data? It’s a headline, so you are going to do some “selling,” but tell me what I should expect to buy not how you are going to sell me. There are a million examples of this, but here is one that is less subtle:

Jim Bob – Solutions Finder, Enthusiastically Seeking Employment

So what do you do? What type of solutions do you find? Why would I want someone to cause more problems for me? What type of employment are you skilled at?

You’ve invented a consulting company. People, people, people. Being unemployed is not synonymous to being a consultant. That is just the crazy talking. And it is a bit insulting to real consultants out there. Your first headline should tell me what kind of results you deliver, what action and knowledge you bring to the table. Intrigue me to learn more. Your “current position” should be an actual j-o-b. And nothing is more offensive in today’s market than a headline that states you are currently seeking employment and a current position at your own consulting company. You are not fooling anyone and are making yourself look desperate.

Even if you are generating income from your consulting gig (congrats on that!), I would recommend that you think of a more creative name for your own company than your name (and any variation thereof). And be prepared to talk about all of the clients you are serving and how your consulting biz is going in your job section – and if the answer is “there aren’t any clients and it’s not going well,” there is no reason in the world that I would continue to consider you a viable candidate or asset to a company.