Are You Using a Resume Headline?

John Krautzel
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A resume headline is a single phrase or sentence at the top of the page that helps recruiters get to know you at a glance. While this snippet takes some time to perfect, it just might be one of the most important pieces of a strong resume. If you want to make your resume shine, craft a killer headline to boost your chances of getting noticed.

Why Use a Resume Headline?

Your headline is placed just below your contact information on the front of your resume, making it one of the first things recruiters see. This provides a golden opportunity to make positive first impression that convinces hiring managers to take a closer look at your application. While headlines are popular among experienced professionals, you can benefit from writing one even if you're an entry-level candidate. For example, you could write that you're a recent college graduate with a flexible schedule, which might be just as appealing to employers as years of experience.

Building an Effective Resume Headline

A good resume headline is short and to the point, the purpose being to sell yourself as a candidate in a single phrase. When possible, use concrete numbers and data, such as "Sales professional with 12 years of experience" or "Book marketer who has helped five authors reach bestseller lists." Be sure to steer clear of clich├ęs such as "go-to person," "hard worker" and "good with people," which don't actually tell recruiters anything about you as a candidate.

You can also include keywords to categorize your skills and describe what you do as a professional. Not only do relevant keywords tell recruiters whether you're an appropriate fit, but they also help you rank well in digital applicant tracking systems that may automatically select resumes that feature the right keywords. Once you've written your headline, remember to capitalize the first word and proofread the sentence carefully. This short phrase is easy to skip while you're completing a resume grammar check, but a single mistake may be the first thing a hiring manager sees when picking up your job application.

Personalizing Your Headline

Instead of copying and pasting your headline for every job application, tweak it to target the specific skills, achievements and experience that best apply to that particular position. The claims and data you include for a marketing position shouldn't be the same as those for a managerial position. While modifying your resume headline can take time, a personalized resume is more likely to catch the eye of a hiring manager.

Using a resume headline can mean the difference between standing out to a recruiter and getting lost in the shuffle, so be sure to give yours the attention it deserves. Have you written a headline for your resume yet? Share you experience in the comments section below.

Photo courtesy of Sira Anamwong at


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  • Shirley G.
    Shirley G.

    No sir

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