You’ve created dozens of presentation decks, written an encyclopedia worth of articles for clients, but still, crafting your career headline is a task you haven’t conquered yet.
Freelancers are often troubled with explaining the most diverse experience through the smallest window. Your career headline has to be all-encompassing in the least amount of characters. It’s a difficult ask, but once solid, it can lead to an array of opportunities that grow your network.
When you work for yourself, being able to showcase your skill set is half the battle and it starts with your career headline. A few key factors can make for a captivating social profile and the world of difference when it’s time to find new opportunities. Let’s explore some examples of quality career headlines and what you can learn from each.
Headlines on about.me
Melissa Brown – Product Marketing Manager, about.me
Melissa, a product marketing specialist based in Lisbon, used her professional bio space to share an expanded look at her personality. Since she is traveling around as a nomad, the map pin (which presumably updates as she packs and ships off to her next location) allows prospective partners to know where she is at a given moment. Additionally, her use of emojis is a friendly and visual way to break up the content.
Matthew Bateman – Seattle-Based Consultant
Matthew is a one-sentence wonder. Notice how straightforward yet compelling his opening sentence is–it tells you everything you need to know off the bat, but also engages the reader. You want to learn more. As he continues his bio, the information moves from direct to whimsy. His last sentence gives you a glimpse of his sense of humor, infusing personality into the bio.
A bonus perk: The hire button is a very easy way for interested partners to immediately ping him. Confidence is key when you’re self-employed, and leading with strong language is a bold move that will undoubtedly pay off for him.
Headlines on LinkedIn
When you have an abundance of examples to share, it can be hard trying to fit them into a LinkedIn headline. Here are some sample introductory headers to get you started:
Tom Goodwin – EVP, Head of Innovation at Zenith Media
Tom Goodwin is a leading executive in the land of media agencies. He focuses on pushing innovation forward for Zenith Media. Outside of his role at Zenith, he’s done many things that have created such a massive following. Above you can see how he organizes his work experience to showcase in the career headline. Starting with his day-to-day position, Tom then highlights a relevant achievement on LinkedIn and his other roles that he entertains.
Dennis Williams II – Head of Content Marketing at Redbooth
I opted to lead with a recent achievement of my own, followed by my profession and other initiatives on the side that further my expertise. My focus is in content marketing and even though the arrangement of my career headline may change given the platform, I always focus on credible achievements and my current role that validates my professional knowledge.
Twitter is inevitably a place where content is much more conversational. Although tweets have a limited character count, Twitter bios surprisingly provide more room to write compared to other platforms. With the space for a strong professional summary and the ability to tag other profiles that you’ve included, Twitter makes for a great platform for personal branding.
Dara Oke – Program Manager, Microsoft
Dara takes full advantage of her Twitter bio, adding color and value to the top of her profile which clearly paints a vivid picture of her professional credibility. She entertains many endeavors and that is often hard to package as a freelancer or entrepreneur. She’s used Twitter to mention her other initiatives as well as link to other platforms across the internet. If you’re looking to revamp your Twitter bio, start by studying hers.
Chris Mohney – Editor in Chief, Culture Trip
Chris’s expertise holds true value in the diversity of his experiences. With that, Twitter acts as a great platform to showcase his diverse background. For someone who works in editorial and content, recognizing the variety of audiences and brands he’s had experience with represents his brand extremely well. In addition, Twitter strategically places your portfolio right under your humble bragging, which is a great way to carry the conversation forward.
So, what have we learned from these fantastic examples?
Pro-tip #1: Don’t reinvent the wheel
A great way to gather inspiration for your career headline is to take a look at the frontrunners in your industry. How are they positioning their career stories and their talents? Even if your job experience isn’t at the same threshold, you can get a good amount of direction from those that you aspire to be. Such research is a crucial step when it comes to the common hurdle all freelancers come across—defining your headline when you wear many hats.
More often than not, a freelancer has had many jobs and worn many hats. (The proactive freelancer app AND CO has dubbed these types, “Slash Workers.”) There is an immense value in this diverse background of experiences and though it may seem like an impossible task to qualify the many hats you’ve worn, it can also grant you a positive upside.
Are you a part-time contributor? Do you get invited to speaking engagements? Are you a part-time advisor? Organizing this information is important to how you’re received. It’s best to prioritize the biggest achievements that align with your professional objectives. Don’t list irrelevant experiences, rather focus on past gigs or notable awards that help position you the right way.
Pro-tip #2: Know what makes you unique
The differentiating factor exists in focusing on what sets you apart and how your skill set and experience adds value to potential clients. Not only does this make you more memorable and always top of mind, but it also opens the floor for deeper dialogue and gives you the opportunity to elaborate further on the different things that you do.
- Define what value you provide to others. Why do you do that sets you apart? Whether it’s a service or a title, find a way to tell the narrative with a clear objective. Background experience that sets you apart is vital when it comes to crafting a career headline or professional description.
- The second step is about telling your above answers in a clear and concise way. In many ways this is your elevator speech. The goal here is to showcase your value in words that others can easily digest. Here, it’s important to think about what your clients will understand and how they can see immediately what you bring to the table.
Pro-tip #3: Avoid buzzwords
Crafting your LinkedIn headline or Medium byline is a chance to stand out from the crowd. In an effort to sound like the perfect candidate, many people overuse buzzwords. Aside from distracting opportunities from the important achievements of yours, you also blend into the other millions of working professionals in the LinkedIn universe.
Avoid common jargon when describing yourself and instead focus on the unique aspects of your achievements and experiences. Both in your career headline and professional summary, use concrete words that are actionable and accurately depict the relevant information that positions you as credible and capable.
A summary of your professional career is becoming more common as candidates want to paint a narrative to their experience while giving more insight to why it can serve potential clients or employers. This is an opportunity to expound upon the same intent you had in crafting your header.
Highlight your achievements and allow your work and personality to breathe through your summary. Don’t be afraid to use media to tell this story. Link to any awards you’ve won, projects that legitimize your skill set, or other examples of your work online.
Mastering the career headline that best describes you is a result of periodically adjusting the achievements and experiences that you’re proud of. With the tips above, crafting the right headline can do wonders for your brand and start the conversations that lead to endless opportunities.
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Dennis Williams II is a is a contributor for Hustle&Co, the leading publication devoted to educating and empowering the future workforce. He’s also a LinkedIn Top Voice in marketing and co-author of the Content Engine. Dennis speaks on the future of content and how it relates to digital platforms, from a millennial’s perspective. He is currently the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Redbooth, and you can find him here on Twitter.
This article was contributed on behalf of AND CO, a proactive app for helping you manage your freelance business from proposal to payment. For more insights, visit AND CO’s Hustle&Co blog and follow them on Twitter @andco.