Writing a Great Resume Headline

By Kaitlin Hurtado on June 7, 2021

As much as you can hope that that the applicant pool is small for the job you are applying for — you are more than likely just one of many, many applicants. That being said, the importance of a clear and concise resume can never be underestimated. It’s your chance to stand out in a seemingly endless sea of other job applicants, just with a single page.

Yes, countless other applicants will have the same mission of having their resume stand out, so it’s essential to do everything you can to catch the eye of whoever is reading your resume. Step into a hiring manager’s mindset and imagine sifting through resume after resume trying to get the gist of each candidate’s ability. Why not give the hiring manager an easy-to-spot summary with the perfect resume headline? Not sure where to begin with crafting the perfect resume headline? Keep reading for tips to guide your next resume editing session.

Photo: Pexels

What makes a resume headline? 

Think of a resume headline as a clear, one-line summary of who you are and one that highlights you as a candidate. If a hiring manager were to read just one line from your resume to see what you are all about, you would want to pick the resume headline. A resume headline, like the name suggests, would be located right under your name and contact information on your resume.

The goal is to keep your resume headline as brief as possible — you don’t even want it to be a complete sentence.

Writing your resume headline

You know how people say it’s important to tailor your cover letter to the job you are applying for instead of sending a generic cover letter with every job application? The same can be said for your resume headline. Sure, you may be applying for jobs that are relatively all the same job position on paper, but every company you are applying to is different. Each company has its own set of values and goals, and its own vision of an ideal candidate. Re-read the description of the open job position and do some research into the company you are applying for. Typically, it is easy to spot what the company looks for in their employees and what kind of person they want to hire for the position you are applying for. Not only does this increase your chances of showing that you are the perfect candidate, but it also shows the hiring manager that is reading your resume that you put that much more effort into your job application for the position.

Are they look for someone who has a certain amount of years of experience under their belt? Are they looking for someone who has experience with a specific software? If anything they are looking for applies to you, use it to your advantage and make it the focal point of your resume by writing it into your resume headline.

If you don’t have years of experience or accomplishments to highlight in your resume headline, fear not. Your personal skills and attributes can still be the foundation for a great resume headline.

While you make think that writing a resume headline is going to be a piece of cake because it’s really only just one line of words, being concise and effective can be the most difficult task that comes out of crafting your resume. With a resume headline, each and every word counts — you want to pack a punch with as few words as possible. That being said, rely on resume keywords to make your resume headline stand out. These can consist of skills, abilities, qualities, or credentials that the hiring manager is going to be looking for in the ideal candidate.

Whether it be an automated applicant tracking system that scans resumes for keywords or an actual hiring manager, keywords can help simplify a resume and allow whoever is looking over your resume to make a quick decision if your application is worth further attention.

Resume headline examples 

A common, yet effective format for resume headlines is an adjective, title, then a short blip about your experience. For example, if you are applying for an editor position at a publishing company that is looking for a candidate with a specific amount of experience, an effective resume headline would be “Detail-Oriented Editor with Eight Years of Experience.” Short, simple, and to the point — a headline like this shows a hiring manager that the candidate is the type of applicant they would want to hire just in one line.

If you lack years of experience in the field you are applying for, shift the focus of your resume headline to your skills or personal attributes or what you’ve accomplished in college. If you’re a recent college graduate, for example, try something like “Honors College Graduate with Research and Field Experience.”

Sending in a job application after job application can be a daunting, tiring, and frustrating process. With these tips in mind, you can create an improved resume that can pair up with a well-crafted cover letter to impress the next hiring manager you come into contact with. Good luck!

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