A resume headline is a phrase that will inspire the recruiter or hiring manager to continue reading your resume.
Within that one-liner, you need to:
Resume Headline vs Resume Title vs Resume Profile: The Differences.
First, let’s clear out one thing: what are all those different resume sections that seemingly serve the same purpose?
What Is A Resume Title?
The title is your personal brand, zipped to the smallest possible size. For example:
“Aspiring Sales Professional”
“Senior Logistics Executive”
Align it with the job title you’re applying for and, preferably, with most of your experience. Keep it short ( just a couple of words – definitely not a full line).
What Is A Resume Profile?
On the other end of the resume spectrum is the profile. It’s a 3-5 paragraph section that briefly describes your strengths, experiences, achievements, specific certifications, etc.
A resume profile must immediately tell the hiring manager what you bring to the table.
What Is A Resume Resume Headline?
Think of it as a click-bait blog headline. That’s the type of impact you want it to have.
An effective resume headline is longer than a resume title but shorter than a resume summary.
Think of it this way:
- The headline expands the title.
- The profile expands the headline.
Next, let me show you how to write a memorable resume headline for your resume and provide you with a few examples.
(Related: How To Write An Australian Resume).
How To Write A Strong Resume Headline?
Adopt the following rules to ensure your resume headlines grab the attention of hiring managers.
1. Be Concise.
You know the saying, “less is more”? It applies perfectly to resume headline writing.
Be economical with your words.
Practically, it means the following:
Ideally, it should be a one-liner. If you really have a vast career and world-shaking achievements, you may move to the second line. However, avoid it as much as you can.
- It needs to be easily skimmable. One glance and voila – the reader must know everything they need to know.
2. Be Clear.
It’s easy to get carried away in creative expression and end up with a resume headline that looks something like this:
It’s (kind of) funny. It’s catchy. However, it’s wasted space.
- Avoid empty statements that are based solely on your opinion of yourself.
Instead, communicate clearly, argumentatively, and credibly. Showcase relevant skills. Provide proof. Numbers. Achievements. Don’t tell, show.
(Related: How To Show Hard Skills On Your Resume).
3. Use A Formula.
You don’t need to write your resume headline from scratch. Here are a few formulas that you can as a foundation:
- Funky, descriptive feature of your experience +
- Title +
- Years of experience (if it’s representative in the situation) +
- Your superhuman skill/ground-breaking achievement/critical certification/something else, but extraordinary.
I’ll show you what it looks like practically later in the article. For now, just be sure to:
- Include an achievement if it’s a big one. For example, if you x10-ed sales in two years within the company, list it.
- Include numbers if affirmative – decreased cost by 17% globally for a multinational company. That’s huge.
- Showcase certifications – if they’re relevant to job requirements.
Remember, your goal is to grab the hiring manager’s attention by being different but in a positive way.
4. Tailor It To The Job Ad.
You know not to submit the same resume to different job ads. The same applies to the headline.
You need to align it to the job description, use the SAME expressions/ keywords you find in the job ad, and speak the same language as your potential employer.
5. Format It!
The better you package it, the better it will sell. It applies to products, services and, yes – your resume.
- Place it immediately under your name. You want to produce the following reaction in your reader: “John Smith who? Ah, that John Smith. I know”.
- Make the font smaller than the one your name is written in, but also larger than the size of the font of the majority of your resume.
- Write it in another colour to highlight it as an important point.
(Related: Best Free Australian Resume Templates).
Avoid These 3 Mistakes When Writing A Resume Headline.
The following errors will ruin your headline.
1. Don’t Go Into Details.
Don’t explain. Don’t try to hand-hold the reader.
A great resume headline is punchy and expressive, not overloaded with tactical details.
2. Don’t Use Vague And Overused Adjectives.
Motivated? Team player? Dynamic? Great. Glad for you, but don’t mention it anywhere on a resume, especially not in this crucial part.
- Recruiters see these terms on thousands of resumes.
More importantly, they see people behind those resumes in interviews and reaslise that not every soft skill mentioned on a resume is true in reality.
Don’t waste the precious headline real estate on empty statements that a recruiter is likely to skim over.
Instead, use action verbs and power words.
Don’t flatter them or blow steam up your butt. Impress them with your impact.
3. Do. Not. Make. Typos.
This point applies to every part of a resume, but if you make this kind of mistake in the headline, your chances of being invited to an interview drop dramatically.
The headline is the first impression you make. Don’t make it sloppy.
11 Great Resume Headline Examples.
We covered all important aspects of writing killer resume headlines, but the time for the theory is over.
Let’s get our hands dirty and see what good resume headlines for specific job titles look like.
Project Manager Headline.
- Bad: Motivated Project Manager with substantial experience.
- Good: Communicative Project Manager, called “Under-the-Budget-Mike”, with 14 years of experience in getting things done on time.
Retail Sales Assistant Headline.
- Bad: Fast-learning Salesperson with excellent communication skills
- Good: Proactive Retail Sales Specialist that increased walk-in business by 24% YoY.
Sales Manager Headline.
- Bad: Dynamic Sales Manager with 5 years of experience.
- Good: Persuasive Sales leader with a proven track record of increasing sales by 14%-165% YoY in the past 5 years.
Senior Software Developer Headline.
- Bad: Software Developer with 15 years of experience in large companies.
- Good: Innovative Software Developer with a 15-year history of disrupting multiple industries.
Marketing Officer Headline.
- Bad: Creative Marketing Officer with the ability to manage the production of marketing materials.
- Good: Creative Marketing Officer with experience driving double-digit awareness increases through innovative concepts.
Supply Chain Manager Headline.
- Bad: Supply Chain Manager with 8 years of experience in logistics.
- Good: Experienced Supply Chain Manager with experience in providing the right stuff in the right place at the right time. Always.
- Bad: Competent Teacher with 17 years of in-classroom experience.
- Good: Innovative Teacher with 17 years of experience introducing the latest learning tech to pupils.
Executive Assistant Headline.
- Bad: Experienced Executive Assistant with the ability to multitask.
- Good: Experienced Executive Assistant with the ability to manage agendas, meetings, communication, office supplies, and accommodations.
Customer Service Professional Headline.
- Bad: Customer Service Representative with 4 years of experience communicating with customers.
- Good: Agile Customer Service Representative with 4 years of maintaining a resolution-upon-first-contact ratio above 96%.
- Bad: Experienced Accountant with competence in all accounting standards.
- Good: Accountant who helps management make better, data-driven decisions.
Corporate Lawyer Headline.
- Bad: Experienced Lawyer with 20 years of on-court experience.
- Good: Corporate Lawyer with $89M+ worth of lawsuits won and no losses.
Final Words About Resume Headlines.
Always put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter or a hiring manager when writing a resume headline. When you write it, read it and ask yourself:
- What is my first impression of the applicant?
- Does the headline resonate with the job opening?
- Is it easy to skim?
- Do you feel interested to find out more about that applicant?
If all answers are positive, you have a good resume headline. Congratulations!