The beginning of a resume sets up a tone for what comes next. When recruiters and hiring managers read resumes, they're scanning applications to find those candidates who match the job requirements.
And here's the thing: If you start by writing an attention-grabbing, job tailored resume headline, you'll increase your chances of your resume being noticed and actually read.
Because the headline is what first gets your resume past those 5 or 7 seconds of recruiters and hiring managers’ scrutiny.
Despite being the shortest element of a resume, many job seekers struggle with and fail to write an effective headline that grabs the hiring manager's attention. But not you -- not anymore.
Read on to learn:
You'll also get 10 resume headlines ready-made for your resume to help you impress potential employers with your job application right from the start.
Alright, let's get into it!
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What Is a Resume Headline?
A resume headline (or resume title) is a summary of your career, stated in a few job-related statements or phrases.
Also known as a resume title or tagline, it's most commonly a short one-line sentence that summarizes your skills and experience and lets the reader know you're qualified for their job opening.
The purpose of this short yet valuable sentence is to help both the recruiter and hiring manager quickly understand what makes you a good candidate for the job -- and to grab their attention and motivate them to continue reading your resume.
Since the headline is the first thing they'll see (right after your name), it's your chance to show them that you can, in fact, fulfill the requirements they're looking for and make a difference as an employee.
Just like how an attention-grabbing title of a book or article can generate interest, intrigue and compel the reader to keep on reading to get more information, your headline should make employers curious and eager enough to find out more about you.
So, think of it as an attention-grabbing opener that must quickly let a recruiter or hiring manager know exactly why they should hire you.
To achieve this goal, this part of a resume should put forward the most relevant parts of your work experience and career in a concise and compelling way.
Why Is Resume Headline Important?
With all of the competition out there, you've got to get noticed. And you only have a few seconds to grab the attention of a potential employer and convince them to read your application.
Otherwise, they'll move on to the next resume in their pile of submitted applications and you might never get a chance to prove your worth.
Hence, a headline can be a turning point on a resume.
If you want to put your best foot forward, a good resume headline is essential because it:
Grabs the reader's attention and increases the chances of having your resume read and selected for the next hiring stage.
Provides you an opportunity to point out why you're a good fit for the job by displaying your skills and accomplishments.
Gives you a chance to brand yourself as a field expert right from the start
Emphasizes your unique selling points that make you stand out from the crowd and give employers a reason to hire you over others.
Allows you to easily tailor your resume to each job by customizing this concise description and writing a new headline for each application.
How Can a Resume Headline Level up Your Job Search?
A headline can play a vital role in the success of a resume. With this in mind, it's also safe to say that it can be a game-changer in your job searching journey.
Positions you as an expert in the field
A headline allows you to build your personal brand within a few words.
If you write a headline that shows your expertise, the employers will instantly perceive you as an industry-expert based on the very first impression of your resume.
Grabs employer's attention
Whenever they publish a job posting, employers are swamped with information.
In a pile of hundred job applications, a great headline can help you grab the much-wanted employer's attention.
Simplifies tailoring a resume
If you are applying to several different jobs, it can be difficult to write a resume for each one.
Due to its length, a headline allows you to quickly and easily write new job-specific content on each version of your resume without rewriting it from scratch.
Directs the reader's attention
Having a title on a resume is perfect for job seekers with a long work history or diverse career background.
By putting forward the most relevant pieces of your career, a headline can direct the reader's attention and focus it on the most relevant and transferable experiences.
Improves compatibility with ATS systems
Since a good headline should entail keywords relevant to the job description, having more of these job-related words improves the compatibility with applicant tracking systems - software used by companies to receive, scan and organize job applications.
Is It Mandatory to Have a Headline on a Resume?
The answer to this question is short and simple.
No, a resume headline is not mandatory.
However, if you want to stand out among other applicants and ensure your resume's effectiveness in the job hunt - having an eye-catching title can give it a big boost.
What Should a Resume Headline Entail?
The content of a headline may vary depending on the work experience and career path of each resume owner.
Read on to learn what to include in your resume headline depending on your previous experience.
Candidates With Relevant Experience
Experienced applicants, especially the ones with work experience closely related to the job description, are in a favorable position. For them, writing a resume title should be fairly simple.
It should be focused on their biggest asset - the relevant work experience that makes them uniquely qualified for the job.
Let's imagine that you're a marketing manager applying for a marketing director position. The job listing stated that the company is looking for a person with at least 3 years of experience in developing marketing strategy, managing marketing campaigns and running a marketing team.
Current Job Title
Following the simplest approach, you can write a headline that features your current job title.
Alternatively, add more details to give your resume a boost with a tailored headline that will show your expertise in this field and help you stand out from other applicants. Here are a few examples.
Strategic Marketing Manager with 5+ Years’ Experience
Marketing Manager | Experienced and Engaging Leader
Marketing Manager Experienced in Leading High-Performing Teams
If you have stellar achievements related to the target job, highlight them in your headline to impress any hiring manager right of the start.
Digital Marketing Manager | Managed Award-Winning Marketing Campaigns
Marketing Manager | Developed $100MM Marketing Strategy
Marketing Manager | Winner of Best Marketing Campaign Award
Candidates With a Few or Non-Related Experience
Even if your experience doesn't match the job description, you can still write an attention-grabbing headline.
Less experienced applicants should write about relevant skills, personal attributes, academic achievements, extracurricular activities or internship experience.
Let's see this on another example of a candidate applying for a sales manager position.
Imagine if you want to apply for a sales manager position, but your work experience is limited to working as a sales associate in a clothing store.
An approach would be focusing on sales as the overlapping field. Instead of writing down your job title as in the previous example, you should emphasize the sales experience.
Sales Professional with 3+ years’ experience
Experienced Sales Professional
Alternatively, if you want to apply for the same position without any experience in sales but with relevant educational background, you should point out your education.
Experienced professional with BA in Sales Management
Abilities and motivation
Finally, if you have neither relevant work experience nor education, but based on your skills you're sure you can succeed in the role, you should highlight your abilities and motivation.
Target-driven college graduate with strong interest in sales management
Action-oriented professional with high focus on results
Motivated self-starter with passion for sales
Highly-motivated professional with a track record in achieving challenging goals
How to Write an Effective Resume Headline?
Writing a resume headline doesn't have to be an agonizing experience.
Here's a quick step-by-step process for writing good resume headlines with ease -- each time you need to tailor your resume:
Step 1. Start with the job description. Job descriptions entail the job requirements, so use them to identify exactly what employers look for in candidates.
Step 2. Review your skills and experience. Compare them with the job requirements and find the overlapping areas.
Step 3. List relevant information. Write down all the commonalities using only keywords and short phrases.
Step 4. Handpick your unique selling points. Carefully select two to three items from the list focusing on your strongest assets in the context of a specific application.
Step 5. Combine phrases. Create a catchy resume title by combining the phrases from the list.
Step 6. Proofread. Proofread, write, and re-write the headline until you're satisfied with the results.
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Practical Tips for Writing a Perfect Resume Headline
Follow these five tips to make sure that your headline puts you at the top of the candidate list.
Keep it short.
Write a resume headline that does not have more than ten words. Use short phrases and sentence fragments rather than a complete sentence.
Focus on your skills, not on your job search.
A resume headline should reflect your work experience or skills.
If you write a general headline like "Experienced programmer looking for a job," employers may think that you are just another person who has no idea about what they're applying for.
Use relevant keywords.
Using job-specific keywords in your resume headline is a great way to capture the attention of employers and ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems).
If an employer uses this system to find candidates, then they may scan through thousands of resumes. By writing a headline that includes the keywords from the job description, it's more likely your application will get found and selected for an interview.
To make a good impression, avoid using resume clichés, such as 'highly motivated', 'proven track record', 'goal-getter', 'detail oriented', or 'team-player'.
These overused words undermine your credibility and make hiring managers more skeptical as to whether or not you are actually able to meet the job's requirements.
Be Aware of Grammatical Mistakes.
One of the resumes we have received kicked off with 'specialist in creating a goof customer experience'. Considering the application came from a banking professional for a senior position, the unfortunate (yet amusing) typo was a costly mistake.
Proofread your resume multiple times to avoid grammatical errors, especially in this opening statement.
10 Resume Headline Examples
Here are effective, real-life resume headline examples you can use as inspiration.
Headline Example #1
Award-winning Lead Generation Copywriter with SEO Expertise
Headline Example #2
Full-Stack Web Developer | PHP, CSS and Bootstrap With 5+ Years of Experience
Headline Example #3
Marketing Manager Experienced in Delivering High-Conversion Campaigns
Headline Example #4
Prince2 and PMP-Certified Project Manager
Headline Example #5
ACCA-Certified Accountant Specializing in Mid-Size Businesses
Headline Example #6
Methodical Project Manager and Part-Time MBA Student
Headline Example #7
Top-ranked Sales Manager | 5+ years of Experience in Retail Sales Management