LinkedIn Headline Tip: Stick to the Facts, Avoid Superlatives

April 8, 2015

A student in one recent Profitecture class sent me an interesting question, so I thought I post the answer here.


“How do you find the balance between marketing yourself and sounding full of yourself?” she asked. “I think there is a thin line.” She attached a screen grab of a LinkedIn member who described himself as a “Remarkably Brilliant IT Professional.” My reply:


I agree with you that “remarkably brilliant” is a pompous and inappropriate term to use except in a humorous context. If the profile is clearly written to be funny, then I suppose it’s okay, but I expect that most people who read a description like that would presume that the person is not someone they want to work with. I looked up the profile you sent me based upon the distinctive terms in the headline, and the profile was clearly not intended to be funny. I don’t think this guy is doing himself any favors.


The best advice I can give is never to use superlatives when talking about yourself. For example, I never call myself an “expert,” even though some others do. Use terms that can be defended by facts. I do refer to myself as a “veteran” technology journalist because I spent 23 years in that field. I think that’s a fair characterization. Don’t call yourself “award-winning” or “best-selling” unless you have facts to support that statement. Talk about facts: your accomplishments, interests, motivations and preferences. Talk about what excites you and what kinds of people you like to work with. Those are all fair game, as far as I’m concerned.


There are some gray areas, of course, such as “energetic,” “disciplined,” “committed” and “determined.” My recommendation would be not to use terms like those. They don’t mean much and they can’t be proven. Lots of other people use them, so there’s nothing distinctive about them. Try to use words that are distinctive but also factual. Tell a story one of your great accomplishments. It’s perfectly okay to say what makes you proud; just avoid saying what makes you great.

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