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Any student or young professional understands the importance of representing oneself well on social media. Employers and even admissions staff may turn to your presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to gauge whether or not you’re the type of person they’re looking for. That can place a lot of pressure on developing an online persona, but it’s not as scary as it might seem at first blush.

For one thing, there are certain approaches that have proven themselves over time to be attractive to hiring managers. By following the basic rules of social media, you can make sure you remain professional in your presentation while drawing the right kind of attention and giving yourself the best chance at professional success.

While many students and professionals recognize the benefit of developing and maintaining a LinkedIn profile, it’s not always as apparent what aspects of these profiles are most important to your professional pursuits. LinkedIn is a great medium for marketing yourself even while you’re still in school, and your LinkedIn headline is the single most valuable way to spread the word about who you are and who you plan to become. But the trick is making sure your headline says exactly what you intend.

Focus on assets, not titles

When it comes to writing a LinkedIn headline, many students and professionals tend to gravitate toward listing job titles and other accomplishments. But when you think about the people most interested in your headline, it’s not the titles that matter so much as the skills behind them.

With that in mind, consider using your headline to emphasize the specific assets making you an attractive employee. Instead of just saying you’re working toward a business management or related degree, also highlight your skills as a team manager and finance expert, if that’s the case. If you’re studying to be a teacher, list your specific concentrations within that field (elementary education or language arts, for example). By showcasing yourself as a potential employee—rather than as a student or an already-employed professional—you create a bit more intrigue for others considering you for a position.

Make it relevant

Your LinkedIn headline needs to be related to your career goals. Suppose you have a lot of experience in sales but are now looking to forge a career in management. Your sales experience is worthwhile fodder for your resume, but it has no place in your headline. Focus your headline on your professional goals, not your past accomplishments, and make sure every word of that headline directly relates to those ambitions. Failing to write a headline relevant to your current aspirations is one of the easiest ways to fall off the radar of prospective employers.

Keep it short

A long-winded headline does no one any good. You need this vital piece of marketing to be short and succinct, getting your message across quickly and clearly. An economical headline often indicates a professional who has put careful thought into his professional presentation. Take a few passes at your LinkedIn headline and see if you can’t make it more compact without muddling its clarity.

It’s natural to be nervous about penning your own LinkedIn headline, and it’s unlikely that your first attempt will be a masterpiece. It’s better to approach this task with the expectation that you’ll take a number of cracks at it before you come up with a winning headline that best fits your professional interests. Just remember that you aren’t merely trying to describe yourself—you’re trying to hook recruiters and other potential employers with a succinct insight into what you can bring to an organization.

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