The Most Important Part of Your LinkedIn Profile? Job Title

The Most Important Part of Your LinkedIn Profile? Job Title

By: Shelly Kramer
December 13, 2011

LinkedIn, a powerful site for business networking
LinkedIn is one of our favorite social networking platforms. Not only is LinkedIn the biggest business social networking platform with some 135 million users in the U.S. alone, it’s a big part of our new business development efforts and a critical channel for many of our clients, too.

At V3, we do a lot of C-suite training on how to integrate LinkedIn into prospecting and new business development efforts, and we also train HR teams to use LinkedIn effectively for recruiting. One thing we routinely focus on is helping our clients develop a great LinkedIn profiles – and the importance of that cannot be overstated. LinkedIn is not a place for your online resume, increasingly in today’s web-based world, it’s being used to screen and vet job candidates, vendor partners and really to assess an individual’s “social savvy” factor. If you have a lousy LinkedIn profile, it’s probably not a stretch to hypothesize that you’re not very dialed into the world of the web and how crucial the Internet is to business today.

Mashable recently worked with EyeTrackShop, a startup that’s getting attention for the eye-tracking studies they do for advertisers, to do a small test and demonstrate what garners the most attention on a variety of social networking sites – including LinkedIn. As mentioned, the test group was small, but we still think the findings relevant.

For LinkedIn, the item on the page that garnered the most attention – more attention than anything else by a long shot — was unquestionably the job title. We think that makes perfect sense. When you’re using a business social networking site, you’re there seeking business information. This is probably one of the sites where what you look like matters infinitely less than what it is you do.

Here’s a look at an image of a LinkedIn profile from the study – the most concentrated green shows you where the eyes went most often.

LinkedIn networking - Eyes immediately drawn to job title

This research verifies something we talk about often in our corporate LinkedIn training sessions – and that’s being creative with your job title. One of the things we recommend is that instead of plopping the title that you were assigned when you took that job (or started your business) in the job title section, that you instead use the section as an opportunity to create a compelling headline. After all, you only have a few seconds to make a first impression, and a compelling headline might well be all it takes.

Mine looks like this:

Shelly DeMotte Kramer's LinkedIn Profile

As you can see, I’m the CEO of an ad agency. I could say that, but that seems kind of boring. So instead, I use that headline opportunity to let people instantly know what I want them to remember about me. Sure I’m a CEO (big deal), but equally as important, I’m a digital marketer (people hire me to do this), content creator (and this), speaker (and they also pay me to do this) and, as an added bonus, I make fun of myself by calling myself a geek. Which makes people smile.

Which do you think is more effective for me when it comes to new business development …. a title that tells people that I’m a CEO or the one I use? I can tell you that for me, it’s a no brainer – using a compelling headline makes all the difference in the world.

So, here’s your chance. Think about what your LinkedIn profile looks like – especially that job description area. If you’ve gone all out and described yourself as “VP – Eastern Seaboard” or “Regional Manager” maybe you could reconsider. Think about what it is you really do – and just as importantly, what it is you might like people to hire you and/or your company to do for or with them.

Oh, and if we’re not yet connected on LinkedIn, let’s remedy that!

  • Anonymous

    It’s very difficult to decide what is the right thing to do with your LinkedIn profile headline because there is so much mixed advice out there. Thanks for mentioning the study that Mashable commissioned. Avil Beckford

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure what the mixed advice is, but LinkedIn is a business social networking platform. That means the first step toward being taken seriously and getting any value out of the platform is having a great profile. And then, the key to success is using it – regularly. Once you get those two things down, it’s smooth sailing!

    Thanks for coming by!

  • John Q. Harrington

    Great post Shelly!  I’m giving myself a new job title asap!  Wonder if I should give myself a raise, too!  Q

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  • Anonymous

    Thanks John. And the answer is YES!

  • Marilyn

    Hello Shelly…..I’ll change mine today!  Great info and advice.  Thank you.

  • This is good stuff. I particularly like the graphic from the study!

  • Shelly Kramer

    Thanks Lisa!

  • What are your thoughts about Benefit Driven titles on your Linkedin profile.  Instead of stating your position you tell people what interacting with you means.

  • Anonymous

    Good question. I actually tend to be less “sales-y” in my profile, and I know many people really like to push seo optimization – everywhere. I think the best answer is to do what works for you. I feel as if my title is benefit driven, in that I touch on some of the things I do and want to be known for, hired to do, etc. For me, that’s better than saying something like “I’ll help you knock your business out of the park” … but mostly because it suits my personality more to do the former than the latter. There are, however, examples of both all over LI, so again, I think the best answer is really what’s best for you :))

    Thanks for coming by!

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s pretty cool, too!

  • Shelly,
    Great article, I could not agree more. Let’s move from those job titles that usually don’t reflect what we do anyway to a headline that does describe who we are and what we do. The Visual Attention graphic is great.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! I’m so glad to hear it. I like things that keep things interesting!

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  • Sheila Bozek

    Great Article Shelly,
    I have recently gone “outside of the box” with my linked in title and would welcome any opinions on it. I obviously want to be taken seriously, yet at the same time have “fun” and be remembered when it counts!

  • Shelly,

    I beg to differ! You make one of the biggest mistakes on LinkedIn, one that LinkedIn traps you into. When you first open your LinkedIn account, LinkedIn asks you for your title, your employer and your industry. It then uses that information to create you “PROFESSIONAL HEADLINE,” i.e. the one or two lines of text directly below your name. But a Professional Headline is NOT a title, and shouldn’t be. The shaded box directly below your headline and photo will list your current or most recent titles and employers. The Professional Headline should be used to convey a “VALUE STATEMENT.” Recruiters and hiring managers are NOT hiring a title, that’s yesterday’s paradigm. Today they want to know what YOU are going to do for THEM and their COMPANY if they HIRE you? LIkewise, a prospect wants to know the VALUE of buying your product. He could care less that you are a Sales Executive (in fact, that is probably viewed as a negative). He wants to know how your product will impact his bottom line.  The smart individual on LinkedIn uses the Professional Headline to answer those questions. If you’re a job seeker, why should they hire you over all the other schmucks that applied? If you are in business development, what is the the benefit of your product or service? Take my advice as the hundreds of people I have trained have done. You’ll find these simple edits will make ALL the difference in the world.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, Lonny, if you had looked at my LinkedIn profile you would see that I don’t make this mistake, and that I, in fact, use the space available to create a compelling headline that tells people what I do, what I can do for them, and why they should hire me.

    And that is the very same advice that I routinely give to the hundres of people I have trained as well 🙂

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  • Ben

    Great article, that is definitely something I need to change on my LinkedIn profile! 

  • Anonymous

    Well then, get going :)))

  • The hot spot map is almost identical to the one put out by Google a few years ago when they were showing the best places to put the AdSense ads. In the English speaking / reading world, we are taught to read top left to bottom right. So it makes sense that viewers continue to read the top left first.

  • Anonymous

    You’re right – and I’ve seen a heat map focused on LinkedIn profiles, too. Whether it’s some science and some speculation, I still think it’s super interesting. Thanks for coming by, Jim … we always love hearing your thoughts!

  • Annie Rubens

    Great point about letting people KNOW what you want them to know. Good read!

  • Mishmcguire

    Shelly, I am looking for work and considering using a title something like “Looking for any employment opportunity near Long Beach, CA.”  I have been working in healthcare research for ~10 years, but it is not at all important for me to stay in that field. My big priorities are pretty mundane (short commute, a position that is challenging but ‘do-able,’ an adequate salary). I think that titles such as “Healthcare Project Manager” or “Research Professional” are very limiting and that “Goal oriented, quick learner, pro-active and creative problem solver” are too vauge. I’d appreciate any input or thoughts you may have about this.
    Thank you and thanks for the great article!

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