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Using Strong Resume Headlines in Your CV

Out of the hundreds of articles we read daily, we are most likely to click the one when the headline feels urgent, relevant, or captivating. The same applies when it comes to your resume: A strong headline will draw recruiters into your story. A brilliant headline can make all the difference in landing a job interview. What is a resume headline or resume title? A resume headline is a concise description of your work experience, placed right at the top of your resume. It goes below your name and contact information and above your summary or opening resume section. Your resume headline usually pairs a job title with a brief phrase or two that relates to the job you’re pursuing. It’s where you tell a decision-maker that you’re a great fit for the job. Why should I use a resume headline? Resume headlines work because they allow you to frame who you are and your core value proposition to the recruiter or hiring manager right away. This is your chance to say that you’re exactly what they’re looking for and prompt them to keep reading.

A headline also gives you a better shot at getting noticed because you can weave relevant keywords into this part of your resume. Keywords (job titles, skills, educational credentials, etc.) that align with the job description can increase the odds of your resume passing through an applicant tracking system (ATS) and landing in front of human reviewers who will ultimately make the hiring decisions.

Best resume headline templates for 2023 So, what does a resume headline look like? Here are three different templates you can use to write your own.

When writing resumes for my clients, I typically use this formula: Job Title with X Years’ Experience Doing This Directly Relevant Thing Job Title Who Achieved This Very Impressive Result

Having just a resume title with no headline may be a missed opportunity to share something specific that ties your capabilities to the requirements of a job. 6 ways to Write a Great Resume Headline A compelling headline will be both keyword-rich and provide a short and snappy elevator pitch—something that summarizes what you’re all about about the job or jobs you’re pursuing.

1. Position yourself for the job you want (but don’t lie) If you’re a marketing manager who’s built a successful e-commerce platform for your current employer and you’re applying for jobs at companies looking for a marketing leader with e-commerce experience, you’d be wise to announce that you’re a marketing leader with that specific experience in your headline.

2. Tailor your headline for each role you pursue You can, and should, modify your headline as needed if you’re applying for jobs with varying requirements. So if you’re that same marketing manager and you’re applying for another job that emphasizes social media marketing—and you also have experience doing that—you shouldn’t hesitate to swap the e-commerce mention for something more specific to social media. 3. Keep it concise Brevity and strategy are key with your headline. Keep your headline up two lines max. Otherwise, your headline should be a one-liner combining title(s) with a powerful phrase about your suitability for this job.

4. Avoid clichés Don’t waste valuable real estate with vague terms like “results-oriented” or clichés such as "thinks outside the box.” Recruiters see these lines too often. Instead, show your impact with a data point: X Job Title Who Increased Revenue by 150%, or similar.

5. Use common job titles If you’re looking for a job as a Sales Director and are working as one now, but have a different title such as Chief of Sales, introduce yourself as Sales Director in your headline. It all comes back to the keywords both the ATS and the people reading your resume are looking for.

6. Highlight accomplishments Again, if you’re a top performer with impressive, quantifiable results to share, this is a great opportunity for you to show off. Take a look at the examples below to see what this could look like in action.

A general resume headline, and why it works Say you’re a project and program manager who just earned your Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. You’ve selected a few project and program management jobs that you want to apply for and notice that this certification is consistently listed as a preferred qualification.

Your headline, then, may look like this: PMP-Certified Project Manager | Senior Program Manager Delivering Complex Projects—On Time and within Budget—for Global SaaS Providers

This keyword-rich title immediately tells the reviewer that you’re a project manager and a program manager and that you have the valuable PMP certification. The rest of the headline makes it clear that you have experience in a SaaS environment and know how to successfully deliver projects on deadline and within budget. You’ll also notice that every word in the headline and subhead earns its spot on the page. Everything works together to bring the reader into your story and make them eager to continue into your summary section. One- and two-line resume headline examples Here are a few more headline examples, for a variety of industries and roles:

Nonprofit Leader | Executive Director | Director of Development Driving Transformative Performance on Behalf of Global Humanitarian Agencies

Supply Chain Manager | Logistics Team Lead Optimizing Operational Performance in Global Manufacturing Environments

Executive Assistant | Office Manager Enabling Business Leaders to Thrive by Delivering World-Class Administrative Support

Technical Writer | Trainer & Instructor Transforming Complex Technical Information Into Compelling and Actionable Content, Lessons, and documentation

We could take those same four people and create one-line headlines for them:

  • Nonprofit Director Who Has Successfully Raised $5M for Children’s Charities

  • Supply Chain Leader With 15 Years Experience Managing End-to-End Global Supply Chains

  • Executive Assistant—an Indispensable Partner to Senior Business Leaders

  • Technical Writer Specializing in Transforming Complex Information Into Compelling and actionable Content

Lastly, some bonus resume headline examples If you want even more ideas, consider these:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) With 8 Years of Auditing Experience

  • SaaS Account Executive Who’s Closed Over $10 Million in Sales

  • Content Writer and Editor Who Has Increased SEO Traffic by Over 200%

  • Award Winning UX-Designer Specializing in Accessibility

  • Account Manager Responsible for Upsells Totalling $500K+ in 6 Months

  • Back-end developer Fluent in JavaScript, SQL, Ruby, and Python

  • Advertising Executive Responsible for the GEICO Gecko

  • Social Media Marketing Specialist who Launched and Grew 100K Followers TikTok Account

  • Recruiter Who’s Sourced, Interviewed and Overseen Hiring Process for 200+ Hired Candidates

  • Project Manager Specializing in Completing Over-Budget Initiatives Cheap

  • HR Professional with 18 Years in Benefits Management

  • Certified Special Education Teacher With 5 Years Experience in Multi-Grade Classroom

  • Data Analyst With 4 Years of Experience in Financial Modeling

  • Data Scientist Specializing in Machine Learning

  • IT Professional Who Set Up Hillary Clinton’s Server—Which Is Still Unhacked

  • Engineer Who Founded Tesla

No one—not even the ATS—can see, feel and touch your years of experience and understand why you should be hired. It’s on you to frame the “you on paper” as the very best candidate to the decision makers, whether they’re a technology or a group of humans. And it all starts with your headline.

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