How to Write a Resume Headline That Grabs Attention (and Gets the Job)

In the early stages of job hunting you, the job seeker, are an “Attention Seeker”.

With your job application amongst dozens, sometimes hundreds (even thousands!) of other applicants, how can your resume/CV grab the employers’ attention? How does your resume stand out in the game of first impressions and limited attention span?

The answer begins with your resume headline.

What is a resume headline?

Imagine that you want to ask someone out for a dinner date.  The first sentence that comes out of your mouth, whether it’s a simple introduction or a smooth one-liner, is crucial to whether you get a “yes” or a “no”.

Similarly, when applying for a job, your resume headline is your chance at a smooth one-liner that’s going to get the employer to stop and pay attention.

A resume headline is your brief introduction  your skills, qualifications, expertise, experience or even your personality. It’s a summary of your whole resume in ONE sentence. Nowadays, job seekers choose to write resume headlines and a summary instead of the vague, ‘career objectives’. This headline serves as your greeting, bio and sales pitch all at once.

A resume headline is normally written below your complete name. In case you’re wondering, it’s also the second piece of information we ask you to provide on your JobGetter profile right after your first and last name (see below…)

What should a resume headline contain?

If you’re still clueless on what your resume headline should say, we have a formula that will help get you started.  

You can begin answering these three questions:

  1. What’s the job that you want to apply for?
  2. Do you have the relevant qualifications/experiences an employer would be looking for?
  3. Why would you be a great fit for that job? Or, what makes you special?

Answering these questions sets up the key information an employer or recruiter is looking for when trying to determine if you’re the right person for the job. 

Here’s a quick example:

1. What’s the job that you want to apply for?

Applying for a Barista position in a coffee shop.

2. Do you have the relevant qualifications/experiences an employer would be looking for? 

Yes, I’ve completed a course and received my Barista certificate. 

3. Why would you be a great fit for that job? Or, what makes you special? 

I love coffee and have a passion for coffee making and coffee art. I even won a coffee art contest once. 

Based on these answers, here’s a few sample resume headlines: 

I’m a Certified Barista who has an Undying Love for Coffee

Certified Barista, Coffee Lover and a Coffee Art Champion

The key is bringing all three answers into one snappy answer. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or fancy. If you think that your resume headline clearly identifies the job that you want, explains why you’re an excellent candidate and the words you’ve used is true to your personality, then you’re all set.

Other Resume Headline Pointers

Now that you have an idea about how to brainstorm an effective resume headline, the overwhelming choice of words might be your next hurdle as you strive to create the perfect headline. So, just start writing and don’t stop!

We encourage you to write as many possible headlines as you can come up with — you’ll find they start to come easier and easier. One sassy headline will lead to the next until eventually you’ll narrow it down to a shortlist — most likely combining a few of your favourites until the best one stands out like a beacon. 

Before you dive into self-discovery and, here are some other pointers to keep in mind as you strive to come up with an attention-grabbing, interview-securing, job-getting resume headline:

Keep it short and simple

Less is more. Your resume headline is a phrase or, at most, a sentence. It’s a high level overview of your desired job, skills, experience and/or education. Anything longer than a sentence defeats the purpose of a headline. Even worse it could turn off the hiring manager. Save longer explanations for your cover letter, work history or “About Me” section.

Format matters

As the gateway to your resume, the format of your headline matters. Keep a close eye on grammar but you do have some creative license to use more capitals and commas than usual if you opt for a phrase instead of a sentence. Remember, the purpose is to grab attention so make sure it’s easy to read. 

Keywords are your saviour

Job ads normally include the job title and key criteria so use these keywords in your resume headline. Employers, particularly the big or popular ones, will often use technology to search for these keywords in the applications they’re receiving to make it easier to identify the most relevant applicants and filter them to the top their list. By using them in your headline, you have a good chance of getting filtered into the shortlist. 

Avoid clichés

If you’re feeling lazy and just want to get your resume or application over with, you may be tempted to write “looking for a job” or “you’re a hardworking individual” in your headline but you might as well not write one at all.  Using clichéd phrases gives the impression that you’re not prepared to put the effort into your application so the employer may question whether you’ll be prepared to put effort into the job.  Everyone is looking for a job and everyone says they are hard working, so what can your resume headline do to make you stand out from everyone else?

Don’t Get Too Far Ahead of Yourself

Your headline is only a part of your resume, not the full story. Getting in an employer’s face is great but don’t let the resume body let you down. It has to back up what your saying and justify why they should want to hire you. While you’re doing that make sure you’re not making this huge resume mistake.

Look at it your resume headline like an opportunity. It’s a chance to grab an employer’s attention and make them want to find out more about you.

If you need help with your JobGetter headline, reach out to our amazing support team and they’ll be happy to help you brainstorm!

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