Should you mention a former employer in your LinkedIn Headline? -ex Facebook -ex Google

Hey guys, just so you know, I used to date Ryan Gosling back in the day.

….You know, the actor from the movie The Notebook and The Big Short.

ok… we didn’t actually date.
And I don’t even know him.

Ryan Gosling my former ex-boyfriend… or not

But have you noticed this trend on LinkedIn of name-dropping “sexy -exes” in your headline?

I know you’ve seen it too. It usually looks like this:

Brand Ambassador | -ex Facebook | -ex Google | -ex Y Combinator
or
Title at current employer | <insert prestigious and usually private university> alum | ex-<insert Fortune 50 tech or MBB consulting firm or both>

Sexy -ex LinkedIn profile search results
The above image is my LinkedIn results when I used the search term “ex-google.” My results yielded 17,000 LinkedIn profiles using this keyword.

Currently, only the “cool kids” from tech and consulting are doing it. I haven’t seen -ex CVSHealth or -ex AmerisourceBergen (even though they are both F10 companies).

I can see the value of headline name-dropping for leaders who have moved on to lead an unknown or “on the rise” startup for credibility.

Example: Chief Marketing Officer at XX Startup | ex-MailChimp CMO | Growth Strategist and Branding Expert

However, I’m not convinced the ex-list is adding value to early career professionals (especially the 100% remote intern).

Last year, I polled my LinkedIn readers and asked the question:
Do you think it adds credibility to a LinkedIn headline when you see “ex-company name”?

13,640 people voted.
21% Yes.
54% No.
25% It depends

Should you mention a former employer in your LinkedIn headline? The experts weigh in.

There were some really valuable thoughts in the comments worth repeating:

Austin Belcak said: If you’re relying on a company’s brand equity to increase your value, you’re doing a bad job of selling yourself.

Scott Turman shared, “-Ex NASA has brought me more business than you can imagine but I have never needed to add it to my title. Anything you can use to help build your brand and stand out can and should be used.”

Melissa Richards-Person echoed Scott’s sentiments by commenting that, “I’m granting that in the right industry it can be a door opener which is what your headliner supposed to do, right? Tease your reader to want to go further into your profile”

Katie Houff‘s comment on this topic a year ago aligned with my thinking. She said, “I don’t think it adds a thing Sarah. That information already exists on their profile if they’ve filled out their work experience section.”

I’ve replaced stories of my twenties that started with “I dated someone who…” to “Have you read this book about…” and it’s been a game changer in collecting working knowledge over silly anecdotes. The same can be said for your career…. You could mention a past employer where you gained great experience, but I’m more interested in what you’re building now. To me, that speaks volumes.

Or you could be like this guy….

I gotta give it to him… this was a very creative strategy.

What do YOU think? Are you considering adding a sexy ex to your profile? What are the pros and cons?

Author

  • Sarah Johnston

    I’m a former corporate recruiter and industry “insider” who got tired of seeing talented high-achievers get passed over for opportunities because they did not have the right marketing documents or know how to position themselves in interviews. I have relocated multiple times across the country as a “trailing spouse” and have had to execute job searches in completely cold markets (where I literally knew no one!) I have been named a LinkedIn Top Voice in the career space in 2019, HR Weekly’s Top 100 Most Influential People in HR, named the owner of the “best resume writing firm for experienced executives” by Balance Careers and a “top follow” by JobScan in 2019 and 2020.

Sarah Johnston

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