A resume headline is a short, targeted sentence that explains who you are and why you’re a great candidate. A well-constructed headline can help employers quickly identify whether or not your qualifications meet their needs.
What You Need to Know About Resume Headlines
These one-line blurbs are the first thing that recruiters see, and a keyword-optimized resume headline helps tell an applicant tracking system (ATS) that you closely match the target applicant. Deceptively simple, you should take the time to ensure that your headline works hard for you.
Who Should Include a Resume Headline
The simple yet honest answer is, everyone. A resume headline is the opening line, or the hook, that entices the recruiter to read further. For job seekers without solid experience for the role, you can highlight transferable skills. For more experienced job seekers, you can show off your skills and job experience, making you the perfect fit for this specific position.
How to Write a Resume Headline
There are some basic rules that you should follow to create an outstanding headline.
You have a limited amount of space. Omit fluff phrases that are often just adjectives to describe you. Instead, use power words and action verbs in your resume headline. Adjectives take up space (goal-oriented, driven, dedicated) but don’t give any actual details. Action verbs naturally lead you to develop a sentence that shares information, such as developed (project), facilitated (what result), and influenced (who).
Craft a Customer Benefit
Use your resume headline to market yourself as the best possible solution to the employer. Think of them as the customer you’re trying to win over. Ensure that your focus is on what you can provide them. This is not where you say:
Dynamic Sales Professional Proactively Working Toward a Sales Manager Role
That’s a focus on you and your career goals. Instead, focus solely on how your skills will benefit the employer. Your interview is the place to talk about longevity and career goals. Change that headline to something like:
Sales Professional Experienced in Developing Team Initiatives That Helped Create 35% Increase in Revenue
Now you’re pointing to a tangible benefit for the company. Because, honestly, what company doesn’t want to increase sales by 35%? And you’re not trying to do it alone but inspired a team to do it together? Now that headline will be interesting to a manager.
Similar to the previous tip, use descriptions and actual data in your resume headline, rather than an incomplete list. It’s not enough to say that you improved productivity. How much did productivity increase? What was the average percent change? The more specific you can be, the better. When in doubt, include numbers to back up your claims.
Focus on Keywords
Keywords are single words or short phrases that reflect skills and qualities employers typically seek. The more keywords you include in your resume headline, the easier it will be for a recruiter to match your experience with their opening. Don’t make them guess how your experience lines up. Connect the dots for them.
Pay Attention to Format
Your headline should use the title case and be the first thing recruiters see. It should be at the top of the page under your contact info. You want your words to jump out and shout, “read me first,” rather than blending in with the rest of your resume.
Choose the Structure That Fits Your Experience
If you’re changing careers or you’re a new graduate, you’ll be writing a skills-based headline that says something like:
Recent Business Graduate With Internship Experience in Project Management
On the other hand, if you’ve been in the career field for a while, you might write an experienced-based headline that reads:
Organized Project Manager With 10 Years of Experience Successfully Beating Budget Goals by Over 10%
Resume Headline Examples
- Marketing Graduate With 5 Years of Team Leadership Experience
- Multilingual History Graduate With Volunteer Experience With The Red Cross
- Nursing Student and Founder of University-Wide Alcohol Awareness Campaign
- Accountant With 5+ Years Experience Filing Error-Free Taxes for a Diverse Range of Businesses
- Experienced Social Media Specialist Providing Campaigns That Grow Traffic Over 40%
- Professional Computer Scientist Focused on Improving Security for Over 50 Small Businesses
What Not to Include in Your Headline
It’s vital to include certain aspects in your headline. It’s just as essential to leave some out.
Don’t Stretch the Truth
Lies and exaggerations don’t belong anywhere on your resume. Especially not in the headline. The recruiter will be looking for supporting work experience, and they won’t find it when they look down your resume. Even if you fudge the experience section as well, you’re bound to have to back up that claim at some point.
Leave Off the Objective
We touched on this above, but it’s worth noting again. This might feel contradictory to the standard you remember from previous job searches. However, an objective is no longer needed, and in fact, it makes your resume look dated.
Consider adding a profile summary or professional branding statement instead. The resume headline is the brief phrase that catches their eye, and the profile is a concise list, in bullet points or list form, that summarizes your skills. Essentially, a micro cover letter.
So, picking one of our headlines from earlier, a social media specialist might have a resume headline and profile combo that looks something like this:
Experienced Social Media Specialist Providing Campaigns That Grow Traffic Over 40%
- Collaborated with clients for targeted branded campaigns
- Applied solid data analysis to drive content
- Increased inbound traffic to landing pages over 40%
- Developed long-term engagement plan to grow followers
Find Job Search Success With a Great Resume Headline
If you’ve been struggling to get your resume noticed, don’t leave your headline as an afterthought. They are small but mighty! In today’s digital world, it’s more important than ever to stand out from the rest of the pack. And with a resume headline that packs a punch, you can be sure your application won’t get overlooked.
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