It turns out, a simple mistake can get your resume tossed within second. A recent study found more than 80% of recruiters search for an applicant’s name as the first item when reviewing their resume. It further found that if your name (along with other items such as your education) is not easily found, recruiters are more likely to discard your resume. While recruiters will generally take the time to read your resume themselves, many organisations also rely on automated tracking systems (ATS) which use your resume header to figure out the structure of the resume you’re using.
The takeaway: your resume header needs to be optimized for both the human recruiter and ATS systems. If your resume doesn’t work for either, it’s unlikely to get you an interview. How do you do this? See below.
What do you need in a resume header?
The key to creating an impactful header is starting with the right mindset. Think about what the header is hoping to achieve – providing a name, giving your contact details, linking to some valuable resources, and setting the tone of your resume. Keeping these criteria in mind, crafting your resume header is easier than you think.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but you’d be amazed how often a simple mix-up here can really hurt a resume’s chances. Without attaching your name to your resume, the recruiter has no link between what is presented in front of them and who you are as a potential employee. Remember to include the name as is linked with your professional history and records. For example, if you have just recently gotten married and taken a second name, you may consider using your maiden name as this is the name that has been published and so on.
The name on your resume should also be searchable – meaning, the recruiter should be able to use the name provided on your resume to find work published online, your Linkedin profile, and more. This is not the time for aliases, any difference in your name can confuse ATS systems. If you’re concerned about what recruiters may find when searching your name, see if you can pass our recruiter search quiz.
Key to formatting your resume header, you’ll get an advantage from making your name the largest piece of text on your resume. After all, you’ve got six short seconds to make sure the recruiter can find it.
Something many applicants forget when creating their resume is to include their job title. This doesn’t mean attaching the title of your current position, (in fact, this is a mistake you should avoid) it means describing your line of work. It’s best to match the job title to the position you’re applying to.
Case Study: Eric’s Name & Job Title
When creating his marketing resume, Eric ensured to make his name the centerpiece. The bold font with clear margins against a white background catches your attention instantly. His job title of “violinist turned marketer, still a great performer” gives insight into his career trajectory and pulls you in with some intrigue.
The recruiter needs a way of getting in contact with you. They need to do this for many reasons, some of these include:
- Setting up an in-person interview
- Asking for references
- Conducting an over-the-phone interview
Make sure to include a mobile number that you will be able to answer at most times. Do not include a work number under any circumstances. You may also want to consider putting in your country code at the beginning of your number if applying for jobs outside of where you live. This will save the recruiter time.
When doing this, consider updating your voicemail for those times when you can’t answer your phone. Clearly state your name and avoid joking in your voicemail – the recruiter doesn’t care about inside jokes you have with your college buddies.
As odd as it might sound, your email address can make an important impression. Ensure to include an email that is suitable for the hiring process (leave your firstname.lastname@example.org at home) and never use a current work email. For recent graduates, consider leaving your university email off of your resume if you’re no longer a student.
With recruiters moving towards contacting applicants electronically, there’s less of a need to include your full address in your resume header. Merely noting your general location (e.g., London, England) should be sufficient information for the recruiter for initial screenings. Noting your location becomes most important when applying to international positions. With companies moving towards remote-working, including that you live in a different country isn’t the automatic no it used to be.
Often overlooked by applicants when filling out their resume header, Springboard links are hyperlinks to further resources on your previous experience, work history, approach-to-work, and personality. They’re used to propel the recruiter in another direction to learn more about you. These are useful if you have developed a personal website or have an online portfolio. If you’re in a creative field in particular, springboard links are essential for your resume header.
When including your LinkedIn profile link, make sure to personalise the URL. Check that everything you’re linking to is related to your career / culture fit too.
Case Study: Springboard Links
Gal had over a decade of experience in business development when drafting his resume. He wanted to make sure all of that came across but favored a one-page resume. To compromise, he included his personal website in her resume header where the recruiter could learn more about him.
The debate on including a photo on your resume is ongoing. In general, it’s best practice to check company and government policy (it’s illegal in some countries) to see if photos are welcome on your resume. You can always ask the HR or hiring department for guidance. Including a photo in your header can add a face (and personality!) to the content alongside it.
Sam included a personal photo in her header when applying for her job at Spotify.
Formatting your resume header
Besides ensuring your name is the largest piece of text on your resume, there is little to be concerned about when it comes to your resume header format. Make sure every part (as discussed above) is clearly laid out and defined. At Enhancv, we believe in fluidity in design and for that reason have designed numerous resume templates with unique header designs. These have been used by professionals in the tech industry all the way to research opportunities.
Marcellus’ Journey to Verizon Digital Media Services
When crafting his network engineer resume for Verizon DMS, Marcellus utilised Enhancv’s double-column resume template which carefully positioned his name on top of his resume along with key points to describe his location, email, phone number, and useful links.
Using Enhancv’s builder, you can easily edit the look of your resume header in a way you know will catch the recruiter’s attention.
Mistakes to avoid in your resume header
The single-most important rule to follow when creating your resume format is to never put “resume” on the top of your header. The recruiter knows what you’re resume is, you don’t need to remind them.
Apart from that, all other general rules to resume writing apply to your resume header. This includes avoiding common typographical errors, conducting a resume review, choosing an appropriate resume length, and more.
What if I have a two-page resume?
You may be wondering, what should my resume header look like when I have two pages? The answer is easy. When writing a two-page resume where you have concerns the pages may be separated, simply repeat the same header on the top of both pages.
In most cases, one resume header placed at the top of the first page should suffice.
Daniel used one header for his two-page resume when developing his customer support resume that got him hired at Intercom.
Perfecting your resume header
Recruiters look to your resume header in their initial screening. Ensuring this greets them with the most impact will be influential in getting you an interview for your dream job. The content expected in your header can vary in aesthetic, presentation, and format, but there are some tricks to the trade you’ll benefit from knowing. If there’s nothing else you’ve taken from this post, remember, don’t label your resume with the word resume.