Resume Headlines: What Are They and Do I Need One?

Sean Ahern
Posted by

Similar to an opening paragraph of an article, a resume headline defines who you are and what you excel at in a short sentence, and ideally captures the entirety of your resume in a single line. This allows employers to know what you bring to the table right away, and is a great way to stand out in the overflowing stack of applicant resumes. According to employers, they scan a resume for an average of six seconds—so you’ll want to make a good first impression with your resume headline.

Since you only have six seconds (on average), it’s ideal to keep your resume headline on the shorter side. Additionally, ensure that your headline is tailored to the position you’re applying for. Read over the qualifications and ideal skills described in the job description, then craft a short sentence that covers as many of those qualifications as you can in the space given. That being said, you should be writing new resume headlines for each new job you apply to in order to boost your chances of getting hired.

Try to avoid sounding vague or listing common skills that most other applicants would have as well, such as being “organized.” A great resume headline ideally lists proven accomplishments by utilizing actual data and numbers in order to demonstrate how you as an employee can potentially offer the same value to the company if they hire you. This also includes how many years of experience you have in the particular field, especially if it’s a high number. Any special or unique skills that could be beneficial are also welcome, as long as they are not overly irrelevant to the position.

Excluding a resume headline isn’t detrimental to how an employer will view you, especially if your resume catches the eye, is easily readable, well organized, and unique, but if your resume has the extra space it will certainly help grab their attention. The key takeaway is that due to the importance of those initial six seconds you’ll want to have your most impressive and pertinent information at the top of your resume, no matter how you organize or present it. Ensure that any and all relevant keywords and substantial experience/accomplishments are the first thing that are read, which will hopefully lead to the rest of your resume being read as well.


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.


    Would like resume critique and suggestions.

  • Brunilda C.
    Brunilda C.

    That is exactly how I profile my resume and it has ALWAYS worked for me, Thanks Sean.

  • Sajeev P.
    Sajeev P.

    Ok, but not 6 seconds at least to 1 minute if an expert or 2 maximum, I myself is an Employer.

  • Rich M.
    Rich M.

    Six seconds aren't that long. Some people don't read that fast and there isn't a lot of space to cram everything into one line. I think the long and the short of it is, they basically have their mind up before they read anything. Short of saying "Hire me and nobody else" how are you going to dazzle them in six seconds? It takes that long to say "Hi". I'm not saying you should't have one, just that everything is rush rush these days and nobody wants to really talk face to face anymore. This is all due to texting, even thought the younger generation don't think so.

  • Nancy N.
    Nancy N.

    what a joke
    I do my own and if they do not like it in this era, then I walk out

Jobs to Watch