I was looking at my LinkedIn news feed when I saw that one of my connections connected to someone with the following headline:
Owner of Acme Skin Solutions and Cancer Survivor (I changed the name of the company).
I've recently written about headlines (see 9 out of 10 LinkedIn Headlines are Dull - Is Yours? and LinkedIn Headlines - The Why Instead of the What) where I talk about what I think should be in them. My advice was essentially that you want it to stand out. This one obviously caught my attention if I'm writing about.
I'm trying to figure out if "Cancer Survivor" is a good thing in a LinkedIn headline or not. This is a sensitive subject for me, because I'm a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2010 (a fluke discovery too and it was found very early) and my prostate was removed late April 2010. By mid June 2010, my PSA was zero and it has stayed there since.
My Twitter bio ends with "cancer survivor" and the experience was pretty thoroughly chronicled on Facebook. I'm just not sure I'd put it in my LinkedIn headline.
I can see two purposes in doing so:
- It lets people know you are tough. It doesn't matter what kind of cancer you had. If you survived it, you are tough. (Afterthought: I'm not at all saying those who don't survive it aren't tough.) From what I've seen of others, chemotherapy and radiation are not fun; I was fortunate not to need either. Surgery was no walk in the park, and I still have side effects almost two and a half years later.
- To get some sympathy.
I can't figure out why I'm a bit bothered. Maybe it is because LinkedIn is generally kept strictly professional in nature. Maybe because I have it on my Twitter bio but not on LinkedIn. Maybe because I'm bothered by my second bullet just above.
Being a cancer survivor is part of who I am. While it is better to be a cancer survivor than a cancer victim, I'd still rather not have either label applied to me.
At the end of the day, I think you go with what works, what reflects on you, and what you are comfortable with. I might not put "cancer survivor" in my LinkedIn headline, but I'd rather see that than something unimaginative.
Let me know what you think.