Resumes are all about first impressions. Within seconds, a hiring manager needs to know why you are the perfect candidate for their position. A great way to grab their attention immediately is with a strong resume headline—an engaging one-liner that describes you and your experience.
No matter if you are the first resume of the day, or the 100th for that hiring manager, a resume headline draws their eye and gets the important information about you across as quickly as possible.
What Is a Resume Headline?
A resume headline is a short sentence that goes underneath your name and contact information on your resume. The sentence should describe your career so far and highlight the reason you are the ideal candidate for a role.
What you write in your headline is essentially the snappy version of your personal profile and overall resume. It should be memorable!
But, How Is It Different from a Resume Profile?
Great question! A resume headline is similar to a resume profile, as they are both a summary of you and your qualifications. The main difference is that a headline is really short, while a resume profile is a short paragraph that includes several points.
A resume headline seems like it would be simple. But there are a few key things to consider when writing that memorable one-sentence description:
Keep It Short and Sweet
We can’t overstate this enough—keep your resume headline short! Be critical and considerate of your past experience, and summarize it as briefly as possible to showcase your most valuable experiences and skills, or a central theme to your work and work history.
Use Keywords from the Job Description
As with your resume itself, and to give you that extra push past the ATS, try to include keywords from the job description in your headline. Consider what words they use to describe their ideal candidate or the way they describe the role—if the job title fits the work you do, write it in your headline.
This means you need to tailor the headline to each job you apply to!
But, Ban the Clichés and General Terms
Avoid including the really popular, overused words. This is not the space on your resume to focus on “communication skills,” or “time management skills,” or “an ability to work independently or within a team”.
Though these are important, they aren’t likely to be a unique skill to you. So save those for further down in your document.
Include an Achievement or Years of Experience
If you have been in an industry for a long time, the resume headline is a great place to include how many years you have been in the field. If you’ve noticed in the job description that the hiring manager is looking for someone with a certain amount of experience, and you’ve got that, show it!
A resume headline can also showcase a big work accomplishment. Have you won an award that you are really proud of? Have you sold an impressive amount of products in your industry? Have you created a recognizable program or protocol? This is a good place to highlight that.
Capitalize Your Headline
Use title case or all capitals when writing out your resume headline. It draws the eye and looks more professional than staying in sentence case or all lowercase.
So, what does this actually look like? Here are a few headlines we want to highlight, for some initial inspiration:
- Award-winning Journalist Skilled in Data-driven Investigative Features
- Experienced Project Lead with 7+ Years of Disaster Management Experience
- Bilingual Sales Representative with 3+ Years of Automotive Industry Experience
- Graphic Designer and Winner of National Multimedia Award
~ written by Lucy Fox
We hope this little bit of advice helps you in your job search and application. If you would like to receive more resume tips as they’re written, please sign up for the monthly newsletter, feel free to bounce around the site in the Resume Tips category, or click here to learn more about the service.