Table of Contents:
Writing great resume headlines and summaries should be simple – and they are. They can also help you land interviews by standing out from the pile. A resume headline, also referred to as a professional headline or resume title, is a brief phrase that sums up your career in about three to five words.
It quickly grabs the attention of recruiters and hiring managers and draws attention to the summary, which is itself designed to give a lot of information in a concise way that works for busy professionals who are scanning – and keeps them reading.
Your professional headline is, of course, your starting point. It’s located at the top of your resume and sits directly below your name and contact information. Read on to learn how simple writing a great resume headline and summary can be.
Your resume headline is your tagline — it’s your first impression to potential employers. A professional headline allows you to condense both your personality and expertise into a descriptive phrase that advertises your value in an instant and draws attention.
As an experienced professional, your headline can quickly stand out from the competition in the eyes of recruiters and hiring managers. However, even inexperienced people starting out in their careers can utilize a headline to showcase competencies and attributes that make them a potential fit.
Use adjectives. As you write your headline, use an adjective that puts you in a positive light. You don’t want to brag or overdo it, but you do want to begin your resume by making a statement regarding your value. Examples of appropriate adjectives for your headline might include driven, proven, successful, innovative, or motivated.
Include your role and level. Next, after your adjective, include a description of your position and level. Example title levels include assistant, junior, senior, manager, director, and specialist. For example, “Driven Marketing Analyst” or “Innovative Human Resources Manager.”
Align it with the position. Review the job post and identify the skills, competencies, and experience required that you possess. Incorporate some of those into your resume headline.
Edit your headline for each job application. It takes a bit more effort, but it’s important to tailor your resume to fit each job for which you’re applying. It’s a red flag for recruiters if your headline is out of sync with the position they are hiring for, which means your resume will likely go into the trash pile.
Make it concise. The resume headline needs to be a clear, concise, and to-the-point phrase of about three to five words. If needed, some phrases might be a bit longer to align with the job description and fully highlight your value. However, anything longer than a brief phrase defeats the purpose. It’s job is to stand out by combining key information (role and level) with a personality/talent/skills descriptor (“Passionate”, “Diligent”, “Creative”, “Award-Winning”, etc.)
Use title case. Your professional headline should be in bold font at the top of your resume and use title case. In other words, capitalize the first letter of major words, so your headline immediately stands out as the title of your resume.
Incorporate keywords. Ideally, your resume headline will include keywords from the job posting. This will help to grab the attention of both human and computer readers. When possible, incorporate the job post title as well.
Avoid overused phrases. Avoid cliches and overused phrases that recruiters likely see on most resumes. Phrases like “hard-working” or “great attention to detail” are common and don’t provide much information or highlight your uniqueness.
Here are a few resume headline examples to help you craft your own. Take note of how these read like catchy titles of articles or books, designed to grab your attention:
Your resume headline is your tagline to help your resume get noticed, and the resume summary, or professional summary, serves as your initial opportunity to maintain interest in what follows.
Your summary will be two to four lines, depending on your years of experience. Each line will contain a maximum of four concise items that provide a lot of information about you.
The first line of your resume summary includes job titles you’d accept for your next position. If you’re currently a Human Resources Specialist, the first line of your summary might include:
The second line of your resume summary showcases your relevant capabilities. Using the Human Resources Specialist example, options might include:
The third and fourth lines of the professional summary are optional. The optional third line highlights accomplishments that indicate you have the capabilities included on line two, such as “Reduced time to hire”, “Trained management”, “Improved employee morale”, etc. Bear in mind that more information, ideally including numbers, percentages and dollar amounts would follow in the Work Experience section of your resume.
Finally, the optional fourth line is where you might choose to include any relevant career highlights, like awards and promotions.
Combined, your professional summary should capture who you are as a professional in your field, what you’re looking for in your next role, and why you deserve it.
Dedicated Marketing Specialist
Senior Marketing Specialist | Marketing Team Lead | Marketing Supervisor | Marketing Manager
Email Marketing | Social Media Management | Brand Development and Reach | Lead Generation
Improved Open Rates | Expanded Lead Generation Tactics | Increased Lead Conversion
Published in Marketing Magazine | 2021 Marketer of the Year
Diversified Human Resources Generalist
Senior Human Resources Generalist | Human Resources Supervisor | Human Resources Assoc. Director
Staffing and Development | Employee Relations | Supervisory Training | Salary Administration | EEO
Increased Retention | Revamped Merit Pay Policy | Developed Service Award Program
Award-Winning Editorial Copywriter
Senior Copywriter | Creative Writer | Communications Specialist | Copywriting Team Lead
Marketing Copy | Editorial Copy | UX Copy | On-Page SEO
You might opt to hire a professional writing service to help you craft your resume, or you might feel confident enough to go it alone. Either way, you now have the tools to craft a headline and summary that will work as an advertisement for your expertise and help keep the right people reading.