How to Write a Resume Headline

A person seeking to further their career needs to master how to write a resume headline. The resume headline briefs the recruiting management about your capabilities, relevance and suitability to the job that you are applying for.

Not much longer, candidates applying for a new posting used to submit an application stating their objectives. Objectives are all about you. They talk about your qualifications, your aims as a professional and your goals. This gave recruiting managers no concrete idea of how suitable you are for the job that they are offering. It gave them no inkling of what you bring to the table nor could they gauge what value you will add to their organisation. That is the reason employers are more in favour of candidates submitting a resume summary.

A resume headline tells the prospective employer your experience, skills and what you bring to the table. It lets see how you will be useful to the organisation and what value your appointment will bring with you. That is where a resume headline comes in.

What should I write in a resume headline?

A resume headline (also called a resume title) is formatted like a banner just below the resume header (your contact information). It is much like an article or a press release headline. It is a short phrase or at most a one-line statement introducing yourself to the reader of your resume.

Your resume headline taken with the resume header says, “I’m so-and-so and I think I’m a good fit for the job because this is what I can do for you. I’ll explain further.” The explanation will be contained in the resume summary which entices the manager to read further.

Hiring managers, like most other humans, are busy and spend hardly a few seconds scanning a resume. It is within those precious seconds that you have to impress on them that your resume is worth reading till the end. Your brief headline, which will be the first phrase or sentence that the manager reads gives the best chance of doing just that.

What you write in your resume headline will determine whether the recruiting manager will read your resume further. Or else your resume will end up at the bottom of the pile of all the other resumes.

How to Write a Resume Headline

Study the job posting

Study what the organisation wants from you once they employ you. If you are moving from one industry to the other, you will have to understand what the new industry will require of you. Using words from the job listing will be immediately noticed by the recruiter. That will make you a fit candidate for the job. If necessary look for other similar job postings.

Find keywords

Reread the job posting and find some keywords that you can include in your headline. You can also look for one or two keywords from your current job or your experience. Use only those keywords that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

Keep the headline short and to the point

Keep your resume headline concise and clear. Tell the recruiter what you are capable of and what you bring to the table. Keep your headline within 120 characters if possible. A good resume headline will help you get past the ATS (Applicant Tracking System).

Easy to understand

Keep the headline simple which the reader will understand at a single glance. Remember that it is the glance in which the recruiting manager will decide if your resume is worth pursuing further. You will get a call for an interview only if he decides to.

Use a larger font

The font of your resume headline should be at least two and a half times larger than the font in the body of the resume. Use colours or bold fonts if you feel the need, but this should accentuate the headline and not distract the reader.

Use a sub headline

If you feel the need to give more information, write a supporting headline below the headline in a smaller font. The sub headline will give you the chance to use more keywords. The sub headline should not be more than two sentences long.

Capitalise your headline

The words that are capitalised stand out, and are more likely to register when a reader scans through a headline. Capitalising your headline properly will draw the attention of the employer to important words that matter.

Avoid Clichés

Avoid using clichés in the headline at all costs. Clichés like “go-getter”, “hard worker” and “fast learner” don’t give any information. Instead, they only eat up precious words in a headline. Be specific and list your achievements.

Rewrite the headline every time

Write a new resume headline for every job that you apply for. Every job has a different requirement and your resume headline should reflect the requirement of the job. You may lose some time doing this but it is worth the while. You can tailor your resume headline to meet your job requirement and it will be noticed.

Headline should be below the resume header

Place your headline immediately below your resume header. It should be the first line that draws the reader’s attention. That way you have a better chance of the prospective employer reading your resume headline.

How do you write a header for a resume?

A header resume tops the resume tells the recruiter how to contact you. The header resume is like a business card and is at the top of every page of your resume. That makes it easy for the recruiter to contact you if he wants to.

The details on the covering letter of the resume as well as on the envelope that you submit it in, have to match those on the resume header. In case the recruiter loses the first page of your resume or cannot find your contact details he can find it on the cover letter or the envelope.

Your resume header should include:

  • Your full name
  • Your job position
  • Your phone number
  • Your email

Include only the information that is relevant to the job in the resume header. It will be relevant to add your address if the job listing specifies that candidates should be from a specific area. If you want to impress the prospective recruiter with your social media portfolio, you may also add the following to the resume header.

  • Add your Linkedin URL
  • If you have well maintained social media accounts like Twitter and Instagram, you may include them too.
  • Personal website URL

What you should not include in your resume header

  • Do not include your photograph if it is not specifically asked for.
  • Your Date of birth
  • Your gender
  • Your religion
  • Your race or ethnicity
  • Your Marital status
  • Parents’ names
  • Nationality

And don’t mention the word resume. Your recruiter knows it is your resume and the word by itself does not contain any additional information. All this information is not relevant to the job and only serves to make your resume longer which is not advisable. If the employer needs the information he might ask you at the time of the interview or after employment. Remember that your resume header has to be well-formatted, look professional and easy to find.

How do I make an impressive resume?

A resume is a summary of your work experience, achievements, skills, education and certification. A resume does not assure a job. It is a sort of advertisement that helps you tell the prospective employer that you are a suitable product for the job on hand. A resume is a marketing gimmick for you to market your talents and services. That is why your resume has to be impressive. An impressive resume will set you apart from your competitors and earn you an interview.

Your resume should have the following sections

Resume Header

This section will have your name, job position and your contact information. It will include your phone number and email address. You may also include your social media portfolio here. 

Resume Headline

This is the punch line of your resume. This phrase or a short sentence has to impress upon the recruiter that he has to read your entire resume. That is why we have discussed how to write a resume headline before we are discussing how to write a resume. If you get the headline right, you get a call for an interview. That is the primary step toward getting a job.

Experience

Here you will list your work experience. It may be presented in a bullet form to make it easier to read. Put down your experience at the various jobs you have held and your achievements in those jobs.

Skills 

List the skills that you have learnt over the years, you are proud of and that may add value to the job. They may be hard skills like computer skills, customer service or soft skills like being bi-lingual and a good memory.

Education

Mention your highest degree and any other exceptional achievements at a lower level of education. List any certifications, particularly those related to the industry, you may have

Accomplishments

Include any work related awards you may have. Also mention any significant projects you have completed successfully.

Some tips to write a great resume

Search job specification for keywords

These keywords are used by the prospective employer. They may be in the requirements, education or the certification sections. Your recruiter will immediately notice these words in your resume.

Use the right resume format

Look at other resumes in the industry and see how they are formatted and presented. That will help you in choosing the correct resume format for your resume.

Give priority to relevant information

The most relevant information has to be at the top of the resume. This ensures that the employer will go through the entire resume. Give priority to the information related to the job on hand.

Use a good font

Using a font like Arial or Times Roman makes your resume easy to read. The font size for the body of your resume should ideally be 11 while you may vary the font of your subheadings. The resume headline should be the largest font in your resume.

Use active voice

Use active voice throughout the resume. This is your resume. Passive voice leaves you out of the action and conveys a sense of negativity.

Proofread the resume

Proof read the resume, and look for grammatical and spelling errors. Errors like that are interpreted as a sloppy attitude and employers don’t take kindly to that. Get a friend to proofread the resume.

Match the cover letter to the resume

Match the cover letter and envelop to your resume. Ensure that the fonts and the information provided on the resume header and the cover letter, or envelop are the same.

Write a new resume for every new job

Write a new resume for every job you apply. The resume headline should be different for each job. The important information that you have placed in the front of the letter may not be relevant for the new job. The keywords in this job posting may be different. So make sure that you go through the resume and rewrite it to suit this job.

Do not lie

Do not misinform or exaggerate on your resume. Lying is not the best way to forward your career. Covering up lies is difficult and the chances of getting caught are too great. Depending on the job, lying on a resume has legal consequences and may also be treated as a criminal offence.

How to Write a Resume Headline: The Conclusion

Resumes are an important tool for you when you are looking to further your career. A resume also helps employers take the right employment decisions. That is why knowing how to write a resume is important. A resume has several sections in it. It is important that all of them are well written. Among the various components of a resume is the resume headline. That small section is the most important part of a resume.

The resume headline helps you convince the recruiting manager that you are the right candidate for the job and that he has to read your full resume. A well-worded resume headline has the power to do just that. It appraises the manager about your primary skill and how you will be useful as an employee to his organisation. A good resume headline has the potential to get you a call for an interview and a paycheque pretty soon.

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Jarrod Partridge

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