drafting resume headline

How to Write a Striking Resume Headline

A resume headline is a brief statement, usually a one-liner, found at the very beginning of a resume under the applicant’s name and contact details. Its main purpose is to highlight and summarize all of your strengths and what makes you the right fit for the job.

Why write a resume headline

A resume headline is not an absolutely essential requirement in every single resume. However, there are several benefits or advantages when including a headline in your application. Here are some reasons why you should include a headline in your resume.

  • It provides a quick summary for people with extensive experience and qualifications. The hiring manager may not have the time to read through pages worth of work history, so a headline will condense it, so they get the gist.
  • For less experienced job applicants, the headline is a chance to highlight personal traits, skills, and redeeming characteristics that could make up for lack of experience or expertise.
  • Quickly grab the attention of the hiring manager by drawing them in with an impressive headline. Think of it as bait to lure them into further reading what you have to offer in your resume.

How to write an eye-grabbing resume headline

You want to make sure that your headline does its work and grabs the attention of the reader. Below are some tips to make a headline that has the potential to wow a hiring manager.

Place it at the top

Being that it is classified as a headline, you have to place it at the top portion of your resume. Your main resume title must be your name, and underneath it should be your contact details. After the contact details are where you can rightfully position your resume headline.

Keep it short

A resume headline should be brief and concise. It must effectively and thoroughly condense everything about you in a mere phrase. It does not even get to be one sentence long; just a phrase of a few words will have to suffice. That is because a long and complex sentence is difficult to read. 

Keep in mind that a hiring manager may have to go through hundreds of applications for a single position. It is likely that they will not have enough time to thoroughly read through all the contents of every single resume they receive. An ultra-concise headline signals them that you have what it takes to merit their further scrutiny.

Use keywords

Before drafting your resume, make sure to read through the job description. Watch out for keywords that you can easily connect with in terms of skill, experience, or qualifications. Use these keywords in your headline to make your application stand out in terms of relevance.

Many hiring managers make use of software that helps them organize job applications, such as ATS or Applicant Tracking System. Such software can filter applications that contain the right keywords related to the job description or job post.

Use a title case

Treat your resume headline like the title of your resume. Using a title case will make it stand out more and attract the attention of the reader. You would not want to make all that effort in formulating a headline, only for it to be ignored. You want it to be highly noticeable so that your resume itself will stand out as well.

Include qualifications

Highlighting your main selling point in your headline is the key to making it really pop out. These could be specific skills, characteristics, certifications, and other qualifications that can fully convince the company that you are indeed the right person for the job.

reviewing application

What to avoid writing in a resume headline

A proper headline can help boost your application and grab the right kind of attention. However, if it is poorly-written, it can actually harm your application. Here are some of the major no-nos when it comes to writing a resume headline.

Long and winding sentences

As explained above, a headline should only be title-length. It must not be more than a few words and must not even constitute a full sentence. Writing a lengthy headline or a full paragraph on top of your resume will defeat the purpose of a headline. It will bore the hiring manager and might even reduce your chances of getting your resume considered.

Vague statements and clichés

You want to be as specific as you can despite the short statement you are allowed to make in a headline. Avoid general and generic terms like “hardworking,” “successful,” “effective,” or business clichés like “forward-thinker” or “go-getter.”

Using vague and cliche statements might only merit you an eye roll from the hiring manager. It will give out the impression that you have little substance to give or that you are simply too lazy to think of a better or more appropriate headline.

The same headline, new job

One reason why some applicants go for a very generic resume headline is that they tend to use the same headline (and pretty much the same entire resume) for many different applications. The reality is that each job has different requirements, and each company has varying priorities when it comes to the skills and qualifications they look for in an applicant.

Resume headline examples

Here are a few examples of headlines for your reference:

  • Senior Project Manager of 10 Successful Marketing Campaigns
  • Nurse Phlebotomist with 5 Years of Experience in Hemo-Dialysis
  • Sous Chef in 3 Different Michelin-Starred Restaurants
  • Compassionate Social Worker Volunteering in City Homeless Shelters
  • Cum Laude Graduate with Tutoring Experience
  • Sought-after Instructor with 8 Published Online Courses
  • Detail-Oriented Transcriptionist for X Main Street Publishers

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