What is a CV Headline? Plus How to Write One

What is a CV Headline? Plus How to Write One

If you want to make your CV more engaging, write a snappy CV headline. Your CV headline summarises your professional experience and instantly provides the reader with an indication of whether you’re suitable for a role. In this article, we discuss the importance of CV headlines, and provide examples and tips for crafting a headline that’ll make the difference to your chances of success.

What is a headline, and why is it helpful on a CV?

A CV headline helps to provide an early indication to employers that your CV is a match to the job description. Various studies suggest that recruiters and hiring managers spend on average just a few seconds reading each CV (1). CVs deemed unsuitable are often discarded without being read in full. The number of applicants per vacancy is likely to vary greatly between jobs and industry sectors, but it’s not unusual for certain vacancies to elicit hundreds of applications. As such, it’s easy to see why employers might not have time to read every application in full.

Anything that helps make your CV more readable and helps readers make a quick assessment of your suitability, is worth adding to your document. A CV headline does exactly that. It’s a headline that summarises what the reader can expect to find in the rest of the document. This makes it easier for recruiters to assess whether reading your CV is a worthwhile use of their time. CV headlines can include your job title, key technical skills or adjectives to describe your working style and strengths. They’re just a few words long, so it’s critical to consider each word carefully.

Difference between a headline and title on your CV

The terms of ‘CV headline’ and ‘CV title’ are often used interchangeably, but they can mean different things. A CV title tends to be a short heading of three or four words, which clearly and simply states your job title or profession, with minimal extra details. A CV headline, on the other hand, can be a slightly longer heading that introduces some detail about your skills and experience.

Whether you choose a CV title or CV heading depends on how persuasive you want your CV to appear. If you’d prefer to let the content of the document speak for itself, you may wish to use a conventional title. CV titles may also be suitable for traditional professional roles or sectors. However, if you’re applying for jobs in a particularly competitive industry or role, and you want to create a document that instantly engages the reader, a CV headline might be useful.

Expert tip:

Draft several CV headlines, combining a mix of different skills, achievements and adjectives. Review your drafted headlines and see which one creates the most engaging introduction to your CV. Your CV headline is likely to be different for every application, so having a few different headlines on-hand can help you pick one for maximum impact every time you send an application.

How to write a CV headline

Writing an impactful, engaging CV headline takes practice, and it might take you several drafts before you get it right. Take a look at the tips below to create a perfect CV headline that leaves a strong first impression on employers:

Read the job description

The first task when preparing to write your CV headline, as it is with the rest of your CV, is to read the job description. It will give you a strong understanding of exactly what the employer is looking for in candidates, and therefore a good idea of what you should aim to draw attention to in your CV headline.

Tailor your CV headline

Like most of your CV, you’ll need to tailor your CV headline for every application, if you want to make the biggest possible impact. Your CV headline should reflect your qualities, but also tell the employer something important about your ability to do the job.

Place it under your name

The correct place to put your CV headline is directly below your name in your CV header. You might wish to highlight it by using a different colour of text, bold lettering or a different font.

Identify your key skill

You only have a few words to spare in your CV headline, so you can probably only focus on one key skill. Identify something that’s a particular strength of yours, and that also matches the key skills outlined in the job description. Choose a skill that’s as relevant to the role as possible. Technical skills are particularly impactful in CV headlines, and these may be more effective than soft or transferable skills.

Choose a strong adjective

Using powerful adjectives to describe yourself in your CV headline can give the employer an indication of the type of person you are, and how you might fit in with their team and workplace culture. You’re likely to only have space for one or two adjectives, so choose wisely.

Mention your experience

If your experience is one of your biggest assets, it’s definitely worth mentioning in your CV headline. It’s probably only worth including your experience if it matches or surpasses the required experience level in the job description.

Highlight your achievements

Employers will want to know the difference you’ve made in previous roles and your career to date. If you’ve won any awards or you have a track-record of success, mention them in your headline to hook the reader and make them want to read on.

Find a point of difference

While you need to tailor your CV headline, and the whole of your document, to the job description, it’s also essential to present yourself as a unique candidate who stands out from other applicants. Aim to include details that show you can do the job, but highlight special qualities that only you can bring to the role.

Draft and redraft

Draft your CV headline, then revisit it and draft it again until you’re happy with it. It may take several attempts to get it right, and you may find you’re unable to include all the details listed above. However, it’s crucial you get the right balance and mix of details to engage the reader and encourage them to read your CV in more detail.

Proofread your CV headline

Before finalising your CV headline, proofread it carefully and watch out for spelling and grammatical errors. Make sure your headline isn’t too long, and doesn’t try to cram in too many details. Pay particular attention to the flow of your headline, and make sure it’s a smooth, easy-to-read sentence.

CV headline examples

Here are some examples of CV headlines that you can use for inspiration when drafting your own:

  • Driven logistics manager with 10 years’ experience and a track record of creating efficiencies in large-scale delivery operations
  • Creative marketing executive with award-winning experience in digital campaigns for lifestyle brands
  • Enthusiastic sales assistant with strong communication skills and inventory management experience
  • Accomplished quality consultant working with major firms to deliver strategies and audits for ISO 9001
  • Detail-oriented accountant with 12 years’ experience producing financial reports and budgeting for firms with £10m+ turnover
  • Multi-skilled office manager specialising in developing efficient, productive and happy workplaces
  • Versatile UX developer, creating intuitive, user-focused interfaces and applications
  • Innovative graphic designer, helping brands stand out from the crowd with engaging and disarming visual content
  • Skilled barista with four years’ experience at award-winning independent roastery and passion for excellent customer service
  • Enthusiastic university student with strong interpersonal skills and an eagerness to learn
  • Dynamic recent business graduate with strong analytical skills and a solutions-focused approach
“Like most of your CV, you’ll need to tailor your CV headline for every application, if you want to make the biggest possible impact.” 

Key takeaways for a perfect CV headline

Your CV headline can play an important role in ensuring hiring managers seriously consider your job application. Take some time to draft several CV headlines, and pick one that best reflects your strengths and the requirements of the role. Using an online CV maker can help you craft an effective CV heading and make sure you include all the necessary details and sections. CVwizard has a wealth of beautiful CV templates to choose from, as well as a library of CV articles to help you craft a winning CV. Sign up today to get started.

Sources:

(1) The Ladders: Eye-Tracking Study 2018

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