Are you a guru of this, a ninja at that, a change agent, a boss lady or an out-of-the-box thinker? That's great, but it won't score you points on LinkedIn. Don't be surprised if you don't get calls for interviews or a new job.
Recruiters and managers aren't big fans of self-described titles that don't say exactly what it is that you do for living.
"Our data shows that having a standard job title on your profile (e.g. "software engineer") rather than a cleverer one (e.g., "coding ninja warrior"), makes you more likely to be messaged by a recruiter," said Patrick Cheung, senior product manager for LinkedIn Talent Solutions, in an email. And that's in large part because people looking to hire people search by specific job-like words like "engineer, editor, marketing executive, certified financial planner."
If you go the more creative route, you might get noticed -- for all the wrong reasons -- but you won't necessarily get a new job or exciting opportunity. When it comes to writing your LinkedIn headline, keep it simple and stick to titles everyone can understand and appreciate.
Make it easy for recruiters.
"There is actually a very practical reason to have a 'normal' title," said Josh Fisher, senior vice president at DeWinters Partners, a executive search firm in San Francisco. "Most recruiters search by titles, so if you're a guru, drive the bus, anything out of the ordinary, then you're likely not coming up in most recruiters' searches."
With half a billion users on LinkedIn and thousands of applicants for any one job, you know you need to stand out. But a less than straightforward headline isn't the way. Consider two things. First, guru is so late 90s or early aughts. At best. You won't make a stellar impression with a dated or overused label. Second, there are other ways to weave these less conventional titles into your LinkedIn profile.
There's still room for creativity.
While you play it safe with your title in your headline, you could get more creative with the titles you list in your experience section, where you have room to explain what makes you an agent for change or IT ninja. Fisher, for example, said he's totally okay with that.
Another option would be to save those more offbeat terms for your summary story, where detail the narrative arc of your career. In my LinkedIn summary, I explain why I call myself a lifelong storyteller. My headline is more factual, precise and easier to grasp: Public Relations Professional and Business Owner.
A final option: Get others to describe you in colorful, fun detail.
Terms like "disruptor" and "change agent" should be used by your co-workers or employers to describe your achievements and "not by you when humble bragging about your career," said Rafe Gomez, author of the audiobook What's In It for ME? A Powerful New Strategy To Get You Hired in Today's Challenging Economy.
This is an excellent point. So how do you get others to call you a change agent, guru or whiz at something? Ask them to write a LinkedIn recommendation -- something I wrote about in May -- and let them know what areas of your work you'd like for them to highlight. Colleagues, managers and clients often appreciate having a few sample phrases or sentences to include. Of course, remember it's not all about you; it's nice to offer to write a recommendation in return.
Remember, you're the boss of your LinkedIn. You just might need to be a change agent when it comes to your headline.