LinkedIn "Professional Headline" for the Unemployed

January 29th, 2009 | by Jason Alba |

Yesterday I got a question on Twitter about my post on the LinkedIn Professional Headline, and what you should put there if you are in transition.

What a great question.  I think it’s okay to have something like either of these:

Option 1: lay your cards out on the table.

Project manager in transition, looking for my next role in the NYC area, or

Looking for new opportunities as a Project Manager with rich software development experience.

Option 2: be the professional you are (regardless of your employment status).

Project Management Professional providing exceptional value to large-scale software projects in the across multiple industries, or

Project Manager (PMP), actively involved in multiple NYC PMI Chapter – experienced in high-tech funded startups.

In the first option it is clear you are looking for your next gig – nothing wrong with that.  In the second option it is clear you are a competent professional (not that the first option doesn’t portray that).

Remember, this LinkedIn Professional Headline is only one place to share information, the rest of the LinkedIn Profile needs to be used to tell your story!

  1. 9 Responses to “LinkedIn "Professional Headline" for the Unemployed”

  2. By Jim Price on Jan 29, 2009 | Reply


    Great article! I am guilty of using my title to describe myself. I had never considered my headline from a marketing standpoint. Here is my updated headline:

    Executive management professional providing exceptional strategic leadership to organizations serving young people and their families.

  3. By Gregg Swanson on Jan 29, 2009 | Reply

    This was very helpful indeed! Any suggestion about a headline for those that may not be looking for a corp. job but have moved into the coaching/consulting arena and looking for clients?

  4. By Jason Alba on Jan 31, 2009 | Reply

    @Jim – good job – looks great!

    @Gregg – my suggestion is to figure out how to pitch your value that you bring to the table, and try and make it interesting (think: story), as opposed to making it sound like it’s coming from a corporate office (boring).

  5. By Robert Goldasich on Feb 8, 2009 | Reply

    Good Post.

    My headline reads, “Trainer/Instructional Designer – Increasing Bottom Line Profitability Through Learning Strategies”

    However, in my “Status Update” section, I wrote that I’m “searching for a new career opportunity in Training or Instructional Design”.

    By putting this information in this section of your profile, it broadcasts it to all of your connections as well. The only caveat is that statuses do expire after 5 days, so you need to remember to update your status weekly.

  6. By Rakesh Chowdhury on Feb 9, 2009 | Reply


    Nice article.

    Although it seems easy but coining the right headline makes such a huge difference in drawing attention.

    Both options you mentioned are great.
    I guess Option 1 applies more to people with a strong educational & professional background. These are the people who have worked with big names or studied in deemed universities.

    And option 2 applies to people trying to make a mark in the industry in the absence of a very strong background (educational and/or professional).

    Either way, a compelling headline does make a strong statement.


  7. By Maureen Kelly on Feb 18, 2009 | Reply

    Great points, but where I am struggling is — not only do you want your LinkedIn “Professional Headline” to standout, but now being recently laid off and in the process of creating business cards…what “tagline or title” would be best to use? My previous job was Director of Sponsorships and since sponsorships are now being slashed I want to turn my focus more towards marketing in general vs. focusing on sponsorships or events– any suggestions? Something like “Innovative Marketing Specialist”?

  8. By Richard on May 4, 2010 | Reply

    These are all great points. What if your new to the areas of your chosen profession, say new grad? Say you where a grad student, but due to circumstance you took a job outside your related degree and its been a several years; you are now getting back in to your field?

  9. By Jonathan Duarte on Mar 28, 2011 | Reply

    Hi Jason,
    Just came across your blog post and thought I could add some future notes for your readers.

    The LinkedIn Headline is really critical.
    On LinkedIn, your headline is published almost everywhere that your name appears. As a result, since most people might not know your name, you can use your headline to attract people to your profile, to read more about you.

    You headline is also critical for LinkedIn Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
    It’s one of the most important fields when it comes to keywords.
    The LinkedIn search engine uses the headline to determine the sorting in its results.
    So, if you want your profile to be found when someone is searching for the phrase “Marketing Manager” you should consider include that exact phrase in your headline.

    Great Blog post and examples… as always.

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