Under your name, on your LinkedIn profile, there's a small space to provide a brief statement about yourself.
I call it your tagline. Neal Schaffer calls it your Professional Headline. That's good too.
He says it's the most important part of your profile and I agree.
Let's say you're a recruiter. You run a search on Linkedin for electric motor designers in Cleveland. You get 50 results.
That's a lot of profiles to review and you don't want to read the details of every one. You want to open the page, look at the tagline and have it tell you if it's a good idea to read on.
If it says: Electric Motor Designer, you know you're on the right track.
Passion for helping others to succeed and questioning the norm.
If you're a recruiter looking for someone with a specific job focus, does that tell you anything worthwhile? It's pure unsubstantiated self-promotion.
Here's another. Can you tell what the person does?
Innovator, activist, advisor and coach working where talent management, creativity and business development meet.
I have to stop and try to figure out what he's talking about - and then I still don't know. And the author is a friend of mine.
He believes that if the tagline is intriguing, it's going to make you read on. Here's how it really works. If the tagline is confusing and you're busy, you have a diminished desire to read on because the opener doesn't offer a clear path forward.
Here's what should go in this space: a job title.
Some people are smart enough to put in a job title but then they add Experienced as a modifier as in Experienced Recruiter.
This is simply moronic. How many people are going to call themselves a Recruiter when they don't have any experience? No one. So Experienced adds nothing.
Here's how Jerry Albright handles that issue.
15 years in recruiting with a focus on .....
10 years upgrading Oracle Applications
In a few words he gives a very clear picture of the person's experience. Here's an alternate version of the same idea.
Recruiter: 15 years, focus on .....
Programmer: 10 years upgrading Oracle Applications
Now, let me say again, that when I open a LinkedIn profile I want to be able to look at the tagline and have it tell me, quickly, if I should read on.
I don't want to have to read the tagline closely. I want to be able to take it in at a glance.
But lots of people jam their taglines with as many descriptive words as they can. Look at this one.
Executive Recruiter, Executive Coach & Talent Consultant connecting businesses and business leaders to opportunities
Let me ask you: does "connecting businesses and business leaders to opportunities" add anything to Recruiter? No.
And does Talent Consultant have an obvious meaning that Recruiter doesn't already imply? Not one that I know.
What should she have here? How about this:
Executive Recruiter & Executive Coach
Here's a tagline that looks reasonable but isn't
Managing Director of FCG Consultancy Limited
He runs a consulting firm - but what kind of consulting firm is it? We find that buried in the summary.
Jonathan now provides business development consultancy to SME’s and the Third Sector in East Anglia, through FCG Consultancy Limited. He enables organisations to develop their commercial effectiveness through sharper marketing, Web 2.0 & traditional communications and team development.
FCG appears to be a mom and pop shop - so why not call himself a Freelance Marketing Consultant instead of a managing director. At least it tells you something.
Here's another that confounds easy assimilation.
Oracle Business Development Director at Origin Forward Solutions
It looks like he's a sales manager at a software company. But Origin Forward Solutions is a recruiting firm. They place IT pros. So what should he have here? How about
Sales Manager, IT Recruiting Firm
New Business Development, IT Recruiting Firm
Here's another winner.
Student at Capella University
How about one of these instead:
PhD Student: Education
PhD Student: Educational Leadership and Management
Here's another one with the same mistake:
Student at King's College
Here's another error:
President, Tayts & Co - Founder ResumeTarget.com - Executive Recruiter
Executive Recruiter is the only thing here that means something to a stranger. His company, ResumeTarget, offers resume-writing and job search coaching. So how about this instead:
Executive Recruiter, Resume Writer, Job Search Coach
Use Standard Words
Here's a pretty good headline.
Female Voice Over Talent, Business Assistant
It's short and it tells you what she does. Kind of. Further down, she calls herself an Online Business Assistant so why not say that in the headline?
And, here's another error. Virtual Business Assistant seems to be the more popular term. Search them both on Google and you will see what I mean.
If she wants people to find her, she has to use the terms most people are using.
I also find the combination, here, of two distinct professional lives confusing. She might want to create two profiles, one for her role as a Voice-Over Artist and one for her role as a Virtual Business Assistant. At the very least, use a period to separate them.
The two profile idea would also apply to people who have a full time job and a sideline business, as well. Call me simple-minded but I find the presence of two current occupations confusing.
Important Stuff First
Here's one from a friend of mine.
5000+connects TopLinked.com Telephone Name Sourcer/MagicMethod Trainer-Names Generator
She wants you to know that she is an open networker - and one worth linking to - so she tells you how many connections she has. Only then does she tell you what she does. Smart? I don't think so.
And what does she need Magic Method in there for? That's the name of her Sourcer training program. But no one knows what it means. And why add Names Generator when she already has Name Sourcer?
How about this instead:
Telephone Name Sourcer & Trainer
Put 5000+connects TopLinked.com after that or, better yet, at the start of the Summary.
Here's one that's pretty good.
Marketing Consultant | Blogger | Social Media Enthusiast | @tylerjdurbin
It's got a fair bit of of stuff in it but it's not hard to read. And it's probably good for someone in marketing to show that he's web-savvy ASAP. That justifies the inclusion of Blogger and Social Media Enthusiast. Putting his email address in his headline might cause problems with LinkedIn and I've written about that elsewhere.
Here's another good one.
Google Advertising Professional, Search Engine Marketing & SEM Coaching, Recruitment and Radio Advertising
There's a lot in here but at least it tells you what he does. Google Advertising Professional is mysterious to most people so he might want to put it last.
If it's his specialty and his competitive advantage, however, there's a reason for making it first. He might want to change Professional to Pro to make it more glance-able. Here's my version.
Google Advertising Pro, Search Engine Marketing Consultant & Coach, Recruitment & Radio Advertising
Here's an interesting one.
Jeremy Worthington | Job Search Coach Specializing in resumes, cover letters, online identity management, job boards, recruiters, and interviewing strategies.
He puts his title after his surname and then uses the headline space to elaborate on it. Here's my version.
Resume Writer, cover letters, online identity management, job board, recruiter & interviewing strategies.
Here's another one that's a mystery to me.
Global Operations Analyst | Manager | Strategist | Consultant | Self-assured | Achiever | Outsourcing
I scanned his entire profile and I couldn't figure out what he did. Perhaps it's because I'm not familiar with his field - but I doubt it. It's also packed with mere puffery. What's that?
In law, they call obvious bragging mere puffery. Here's an example. You can claim that your greasy spoon restaurant has "The Best Roast Beef in Town" and no one can take you to court if it doesn't because the law assumes that no normal person is going to take you seriously.
Neal Schaffer believes that you should build an emotional bond with the reader in the tagline. But that's just what you don't need. Because what you get is mere puff.
I'm results-oriented, passionate, dynamic, driven, extraordinarily gorgeous and people say I'm fun at parties.
Do you like that? I hate it in consumer advertising and I hate profiles that imitate the typical advertising spin.
So, let's close with a winner.
Accounting / Finance Professional with non-profit and for-profit sectors.
It tells us what he does, briefly, and there is no hype. But here's a caution. Your audience might like hype.
You might be writing for people who think it's great when someone declares, "I have a lot of passion." You might be writing for people who think more words means more important.
I wouldn't bet on that but when I critiqued one of the people quoted above, she said, "I get calls on my profile from people who want to pay me. Do you?"
Well, I don't know if her bad writing is generating the calls but since online profiles are all about making money, she has a good point. Why tamper with something that works?
This article was based on my interview with Neal Schaffer. You can listen to it here.