How to write a headline that grabs recruiters’ attention

What is a Professional Headline on a CV

The CV headline is a one line phrase located at the top of your CV, right below (or in line with) your name. The headline must describe yourself as a professional. It should lead recruiters to identify you as the right candidate for the job at hand, within a mere second of a glance.

Also known as the CV one liner or CV title the CV headline is often left out of most CVs, but when included can decidedly increase a candidate's chances of being noticed and interviewed.

Why should I write a CV headline?

Depending on the size of the company you are applying to, recruiters may or may not be using an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to screen applicant CVs and filter them more quickly. One of the first things the ATS will scan is your CV's headline, and so it's important to utilize relevant information and keywords to improve your CV's relevancy score. The CV headline is also useful further on in the recruitment process, when your CV gets in the hands of a human being. Whether you’re using an online, PDF, or standard printed CV, the first thing that recruiters will see is your One liner. In recruitment processes where the first screening is done manually, the CV headline plays an essential role in making your CV stand out. As the world's famous 6 seconds study by the Ladders suggests, recruiters spend on average 6 seconds screening a CV to decide if it's worth a second look or if it's discarded right away.

Regardless of the nature of the recruitment process, increasing the chances that your CV will get noticed is exactly the reason why you should include a headline.

What should I write in my CV headline?

No matter whether you have relevant experience or not, your headline should sum up what you do, while condensing your best skills and work experience into one line. Ideally, it should also be aimed at making recruiters want to continue reading your CV.

This being said, the way you accomplish this goal differs depending on the amount of experience that you have:

Candidates with relevant experience

Aim to impress recruiters focusing on distinctive skills and attributes that you've acquired throughout your career.

Candidates with few or non relevant experience

Aim to impress recruiters focusing on personal attributes and skills acquired during studies, extracurricular activities, and other aspects of life.

Tips for writing a great CV headline

  1. Keep it clean and short: It has to be a brief phrase and should not be longer than one line. Ensure that it stands out by capitalizing it or simply writing it in all caps.
  2. Focus on the position you are applying for. Don't write the same headline for different positions. Tailor your CV to the specific position you are applying to. Carefully read the job description and take away what type of candidate they want by selecting keywords and including them in your headline.
  3. Ask yourself: Is there something that makes me stand out from other applicants and that would put me in the top 10% of candidates? (Linkedin premium is a good tool to identify these advantages.)
  4. Avoid common attributes that don't add value such as "hardworking", "responsible"... Try to avoid attributes that are likely to be used by most other candidates.

Always follow up on your one liner by providing more details about it in your profile or summary section. Remember this section should be the first section on your CV.

CV headline examples

Travel industry

Experienced Flight Attendant Speaking 3 Languages

Top-Performing Hotel Front Desk Manager

Experienced and Passionate Waiter in Award-winning Restaurants

Detail Oriented Concierge with vast Experience in 5* Resorts

Customer Centric Receptionist with +10 Years of Experience

Customer Service

Customer Service Agent with High-Volume Management Experience

Customer Relations Manager with Proven Success Rate

Sales Oriented Customer Services Representative

Customer Services Rep. with 95% Customer Satisfaction

Resolutive IT Customer Services Agent

Administrative

Receptionist with +10 years of Experience

Office Assistant with Accounting Experience

Executive Assistant Speaking 5 Languages

Enthusiastic and Highly Organized Receptionist Efficient Data Entry Clerk

Office Manager Overviewing +1000 employees

Sales

Key Account Manager Curating Customer Success

Sales Rep. Exceeding Goals by 10%

B2B Sales Leader with +8 Years of Experience

Data & Customer Oriented IT Sales Manager

Marketing

Creative Marketing Communicator with Media Connections

Design-Oriented Marketer & Great UX Curator

KPI Oriented Marketing Consultant

Product Manager in +100 Saas Projects

Motivated and Data-driven PPC manager

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