The most compelling reason to click an article to read on any media source is its headline, The same concept applies when it comes to your CV: A great CV headline will immediately grab the attention of recruiters and hiring managers and want them to open your CV to read more.
What Is a CV Headline?
A CV headline is a short compelling description of yourself right at the top of the first page. It consists of your job title/s and phrase announcing that you are a great fit for that job.
When writing CVs for my candidates, I typically use a combination of this structure:
= Adjectives + Job Title + Experience + Education Qualification + Achievement
You need not have it all but a combination of one or more of the above is definitely recommended. A few examples are below
"On Target Sales Manager with an MBA and driving an Annual 40 Million Business"
"Enthusiastic Marketing Consultant having 15 years of expertise in brand building and SEO Strategies"
"Energetic executive assistant and company secretary for top UAE firms."
"Honors Mechanical Engineer with 5 years of experience in repairing complex rotating machines and compressors"
"MIT Honors Graduate with Robotics Engineering expertise"
Your headline should go right below your name and contact information, and right above your summary, if you choose to use a summary (otherwise it would go right before your work experience or whatever section you start with).
Why Should I Use a CV Headline?
CV headlines (and subheadings) work because they allow you to frame who you are and what your core value is to the recruiter or hiring manager. This is your single best and most immediate chance to signal that you are just what they are looking for. It prompts them to keep reading, which is exactly what you want them to do.
Your headline also makes it more likely the recruiter or hiring manager will see your application in the first place. Ensure that the relevant keywords are well incorporated in your CV to ensure it is always found and ranks high in the search ladder. An ATS (Application Tracking System), which most recruiters and companies use, will not miss it. You will almost always have your CV read.
6 Tips for Writing a Great Resume Headline
So what makes an eye-catching headline? A great headline must be (1) keyword-rich, (2) to the point, and (3) attention-grabbing, based on your area of expertise and accomplishments.
1. Plan for the Job You Want based on Your Experience and not what you want to do (Do not lie)
2. Tailor Your Headline for Each Role You Pursue
Every job is different, every job advertisement is different. Every CV you send must be specific to the job advertisement. One size fits all does not warrant a high response rate.
3. Keep It Concise
The limit of your CV heading should not be more than one line (or 2 lines with a subheading). So keep it short and full of impact.
4. Avoid Clichés
Do not use vague terms and wasteful text like “detail-oriented” and “outside-the-box.” Recruiters read these words on almost every CV. Remember you want your CV to be unique.
5. Use Standard Job Titles
You must be able to relate to a specific common job title that spells more e.g If you have a "Team Leader" title in your company using the same title keeps the reader guessing on what product, what industry? This uncertainty may lead them to pass your resume. You can use "Senior Credit Card Sales Lead" instead. You have just captured 2 other keywords “credit card” and “sales” if you are applying for a “team leader-credit card” role.
6. Highlight Accomplishments
Accomplishment speaks volumes compared to responsibility. You need to say “Building Material Sales Executive with a 100% target achievement for 3 consecutive years” (assuming its true of course)
What Does a Resume Headline Actually Look Like?
Your CV heading and subheading may look like this:
Should you need to have your CV headline in 2 lines it is ok, it is more important that you have one immediately.
You are here to position yourself as the best candidate. And it all starts with the headline