How to Write a Resume Headline With Practical Examples

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What is a resume headline?

A resume headline is a brief phrase located at the top of your resume, under your contact details, that highlights your main qualifications for the position. A resume headline allows recruiters to quickly determine if you may be a good fit for the job. A good resume headline will entice recruiters to examine your resume in more detail. 

This article will help you to write a resume headline that quickly communicates your experience and qualifications for the job, establishing you as an ideal candidate for the job.

Why is a resume headline important?

With increased competition in the job market, recruiters have less time to spend reviewing each resume they receive. Additionally, automated applicant tracking systems screen out applicants who do not meet certain pre-defined criteria before recruiters see their applications. A well-crafted resume headline allows recruiters to determine, at a glance, if it is worth spending more time reviewing your resume and can help ensure you pass the screening criteria of applicant tracking systems.

How to write an effective resume headline

The goal of a resume headline is to communicate why you are a good candidate for the position and to persuade recruiters to read the rest of your resume. Your headline should highlight your best experience and strongest qualifications for the position.

Here are the key steps to writing a resume headline:

1. Firstly, identify relevant keywords that align your experience with the job description

Review the job description and consider your experience to identify the best keywords to use in your resume headline. Using keywords that are also included in the job description demonstrates that you are a good fit for the position, improves the likelihood of your resume passing the applicant tracking systems, and encourages the recruiter to read more. 

2. Then, use keywords that highlight your experience

Highlight your most relevant experience by using keywords from that experience in your resume headline. When comparing your accomplishments against the job description to select keywords, consider if the keyword is a primary or secondary function of the position, if you have any awards or accolades related to the function, and what special skills you have. Thinking about how your background relates to the job description will help you select keywords that highlight your best qualifications for the position. 

3. Thirdly, select keywords that show confidence in your abilities

The goal of a resume headline is to quickly sell yourself as a candidate worth pursuing. Use words like ‘experienced’ and ‘ambitious’ to communicate confidence in your knowledge, skills and abilities. Recruiters and hiring managers want someone who can do the job from day one. Expressing confidence in your skills communicates that you will be comfortable performing the tasks of the job immediately.

4. Next, compose a headline that is brief and interesting

A resume headline is a brief phrase that describes your experience related to the position. The most effective resume headlines are not even complete sentences. The goal is to grab the recruiter’s attention, communicate your most relevant qualifications and encourage the recruiter to read further into your resume.

5. Next, include specific details about your qualifications

Instead of using vague or cliche words, use words that are specific to your experience and your qualifications. The resume headline can include awards, years of experience, data supporting past performance, special skills and important soft skills. It should be specific to your experience, to the position and to how your experience and qualifications are a good fit for the position. Additionally, using keywords that are specific to your experience and the job description will help your resume get past applicant tracking systems designed to screen out less qualified applicants.

6. Next, place it at the top of your resume layout

The goal of a resume headline is to grab the recruiter’s attention and get them to read more. Place your resume headline at the top of your resume so it is the next thing a recruiter sees after your contact information. This will ensure that recruiters see your most relevant qualifications immediately, which may encourage them to read the details of your resume.

7. Next, use capital letters for the main words

Capitalize the first letter in each principal word of your resume headline. A resume headline is essentially a title for your resume that summarizes your best qualifications and prepares recruiters for what they can expect from your resume. Using title case draws attention to it, allows it to stand out and improves readability. Note that in title case, articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (e.g., and, or, but) and prepositions (e.g., on, in, with) start with a lowercase letter unless they are at the beginning of the headline.

8. Finally, make it unique for each job application

The resume headline should be unique for each position. The point is to demonstrate your value to that employer for that position. When crafting a resume headline, you want to use the most relevant experience and qualifications for that position. Ideally, your experience keywords will also match the job description keywords. Do not copy and paste the headline from resumes you have sent for other jobs. Even a similar position at a different company will use different keywords in their listing, so be sure you are referring to each one directly. 

Resume headline examples

Resume headlines are brief phrases that include specific keywords about the applicant’s experience and qualifications.

The following list includes examples of effective resume headlines:

  • Experienced Project Manager with Over 10 Years in Technology Projects
  • UX/UI Programmer with Experience in JavaScript, .NET and Python
  • Experienced Writer with Published Work in Over 15 Lifestyle Print and Online Publications
  • Technical Writer Experienced with Software Development Life Cycle and End-user Documentation

These examples all pick one specific attribute of the applicant’s experience and highlight it clearly for the recruiter to see. Use brief, concise, direct statements like these to help attract a recruiter’s attention. 

Remember, recruiters have limited time to review applicants. They need to quickly identify the top candidates they want to learn more about.