22 February, 2021
By Mike Simpson
As a job seeker, you know that having a stellar resume is a must. That means you need every part of it to showcase you as an exceptional talent, including your resume headline.
In many ways, your resume headline is one of the most important parts of your application. Why? Because it has the ability to draw the hiring manager in. When used properly, the simple sentence can capture the imagination, elicit excitement, and fully engage the reader. Pretty cool, right?
But how do you craft a resume headline that shines? Is there something you can do to polish that baby a bit and really make it work for you? Glad you asked!
If you’re curious about how to take a good headline for a resume and make it exceptional, we’ve got you. Come with us as we dig deep into this powerful part of your application.
What Is a Resume Headline? What is a Resume Title?
Alright, before we take a dive into how you craft a resume headline, let’s answer a few critical questions that you may have in mind.
First, what is a resume headline? In the simplest terms, it’s a quick statement that provides an overview of why you are an outstanding candidate. Really, it’s a snippet that showcases the best – aka, most relevant – parts of what you have to offer.
Generally, resume headlines are keyword rich professional summaries. It might mention a crucial skill, amount of experience, job title, or anything else that shows you have what it takes to do the particular job you’re trying to land.
Alright, but what is a resume title? Is it the same as a resume headline? Generally, yes, resume titles and resume headlines are the same thing. Really, that’s just a different term for the same concept, so you can use them interchangeably.
Okay, but do you need to have a resume headline? Is it really that important? Again, yes. You really do need one, and they really are important.
With a resume title, you’re announcing your value proposition in a quick and concise fashion. It’s a sentence right at the top of your resume that can catch the hiring manager’s eye and position you as a compelling candidate.
Not using a resume headline means you’re missing out on an opportunity. It really is that simple.
What Makes a Great Resume Headline?
On average, hiring managers only spend 7.4 seconds skimming a resume. What does that have to do with writing a good headline for a resume? We’re glad you asked.
If your resume title is a really attention-grabber, your resume will get more than 7.4 seconds of a hiring manager’s time. They’ll be intrigued by what you’re bringing to the table, causing them to actually read your application instead of giving it a mere cursory glance. That’s the power of an awesome resume headline.
How you approach resume titles may need to vary a bit depending on where you are in your career. Why? Because hiring managers have different expectations depending on the level of the job.
For example, if you’re aiming at an entry-level role, mentioning your recently acquired college degree can be a good move. It shows you have a strong foundational understanding that can help you get moving in your chosen field. That’s good stuff.
But if you are solidly into your career and looking for a mid-level job, talking about your degree in your resume title might be a bit… ill-advised. Usually, the hiring manager is going to be more concerned about your experience, not your degree.
Even if you just graduated, unless your changing careers, you’re better off concentrating on your professional achievements and the skills you’ve put to work on the job. That shows you can put your knowledge to work, which matters more at this level.
Alright, so you know you need to write a standout resume title. But how do you pull that off?
First, embrace brevity. Really, your resume headline should only be one short statement. In fact, it typically isn’t even a complete sentence.
Second, use title capitalization. The goal is to make this part of your resume stand out, so title capitalization is a smart move.
Finally, focus on targeting the content. Use keywords that you find in the job description as a starting point, choosing one or two that are near the top of the requirements list to show that you’re a crazy good fit for the job.
Overall, when recruiting, companies are looking for very specific things when they consider candidates for an open job. That’s why 63 percent of recruiters prefer targeted resumes; they make it easier to figure out if you have what it takes to excel in one particular vacant position.
Your goal needs to be addressing the hiring manager’s needs and preferences. Usually, that means showcasing skills and accomplishments that’ll matter most to them above all else.
Common Resume Headline Mistakes
Okay, you’re probably thinking, “Where are those resume headline examples?” We promise that we’re going to get there. But, first, let’s talk about resume headline mistakes.
Even a small misstep can make your resume headline less effective, and some of the bigger ones could cause the hiring manager to send your application straight to the discard pile. Yikes, right?
Luckily, most of the issues are really easy to avoid.
First, not targeting the statement to the job is a big one. Remember, relevancy really is the key, so don’t forget to take a moment to customize this part of your resume.
Second, cliches are the enemy. While you do want to use keywords from the job description, focus on those that genuinely speak to the nuances of the role. Saying you’re a “hard worker” or “strong communicator” isn’t going to help you stand out, so skip those terms in favor of ones that are a bit more powerful or unique.
Additionally, don’t use “I” statements. As mentioned above, you usually won’t even use complete sentences. Instead, treat these like the bullet points in your work experience. It’s okay if the sentences are a bit fractured as long as it all makes sense.
Another big mistake is talking about what you want instead of what you bring to the table. A resume headline isn’t a resume objective or resume summary; those are two completely different things. So, make sure to keep that in mind as you work on your resume.
20 Resume Headline Examples
Sometimes, a sample is the easiest way to see how you need to tackle something. By looking at a few excellent resume headline examples, you can see how to put all of the tips above into action.
Plus, you may be able to use the samples as a template. Just adjust the details based on your capabilities and to target the role you want to land. If you do that, you should be good to go.
So, without further ado, here are 20 resume title examples, broken down into career-levels.
Entry-Level Employee or New Graduate
As an entry-level employee or new graduate, you might not have a ton of applicable experience. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create a stellar resume headline. Here are five options that show how you can approach this part of your resume:
- Honor-Roll Student with Customer-Facing Volunteer Experience
- Results-Driven Computer Science Grad with AI and Machine Learning Skills
- Accounting Major with Strong Math Skills and a Customer-First Mindset
- Ambitious and Friendly High School Grad Looking to Launch Customer Service Career
- BS in Nursing with Experience Serving Underprivileged Communities
Experienced Individual Contributor
Once you get some experience under your belt, your resume title should get a little more skills-focused. Additionally, you may want to mention how many years you’ve been in your field, allowing you to highlight your experience level.
Here are five samples for seasoned career professionals:
- Software Engineer with 10+ Years of Experience in Java, Python, C++, and More
- Experienced Project Manager with 5+ Years in the Healthcare Industry
- Award-Winning Web Designer with Project Management Experience
- Team-Oriented Military Veteran with Advanced Mechanical Skills
- Bilingual Paralegal with 7 Years in Family Law Offices
If you’re out of the individual contributor phase of your career, it’s smart to mention that in your resume headline. That way, you can showcase your leadership experience, either directly or indirectly.
Here are five examples for mid-level management candidates:
- Accounting Team Manager with Proven Cost-Cutting and Efficiency-Boosting Record
- Supply Chain Dept. Head with 12+ Years Optimizing Operational Performance and Driving Positive Change
- IT Security Manager with 8 Years of Experience Leading Diverse Teams and Large-Scale Projects
- Digital Marketing Team Department Head Who Boosted Sales by 125 Percent in One Year
- Accomplished Head Nurse with 6 Years Overseeing Emergency Room Team
Executive Leadership Team
Yes, even executives need to make sure their resume titles are outstanding. Exactly how you approach writing one that this level will depend a bit on the job as well as where your career has taken you.
While you can mention how much upper-level experience you have, stating a specific number of years, that also may not be necessary. As long as your value proposition is strong, you should be in good shape.
Here are five examples for executive leadership team candidates:
- Forward-Thinking Program Manager with Innovation-Oriented Strategic Vision and Proven Track Record of Delivering Exceptional Results on Time and Under Budget
- Goal-Driven VP of Sales with 4 Years of Experience in Strategic Business Development and Process Change
- Solutions-Oriented and Trend-Aware CTO with 3+ Years Managing Growth and Digital Transformation Initiatives
- Accomplished, Multidisciplinary Operations Executive with Stellar Track Record of Creating Positive Change
- CIO with Strong Background in Global Operations with Focus on International Data Governance and Management
Putting It All Together
Ultimately, a well-crafted resume headline is a difference-maker. It can help you catch the hiring manager’s eye and stand out from the competition, both of which may increase your odds of landing the job.
Use all of the tips above to your advantage. That way, when it comes time to write a stellar resume title, you’ll be ready to nail it.