Are headlines for job seekers valuable? The answer is an overwhelming YES!
Job seekers have several ways to leverage headlines. The two most prevalent being on their résumés and LinkedIn profiles.
What is a Headline?
Simply put, it is the top of a document that explains what to expect from the content. In résumés, it appears below a job seeker’s name and contact information. In LinkedIn, it is the key text that appears below the profile picture.
What is the Goal of a Headline?
A headline tells readers what to expect and captures their attention. This is a job seeker’s opportunity to entice a hiring authority or recruiter to read further. After all, if no one reads your résumé or profile, it will not help you land a job. Most employers spend less than 8 seconds reviewing a résumé. The headline grabs their attention and motivates them to learn more about a candidate’s experience.
Headlines on LinkedIn
The default LinkedIn headline is a person’s current job title and company. While this gives a hint into what you do, it does not show any significant value you offer. Luckily, you can change your headline.
Default headline example: Accountant at Company ABC
Alternative headline 1: Accounting │ Cost Savings │ Process Improvement – steering organizations to profit optimization through analysis, meticulous record keeping, and repeatable and efficient processes.
Alternative headline 2: I help companies stay profitable by identifying cost savings, implementing efficient and sustainable processes, and analyzing financial data to maximize profits and reduce costs.
LinkedIn headlines must be concise due to character restrictions. Job seekers can use emojis and symbols to draw even more attention to their headlines. To create a consistent brand image, keep the color scheme the same on your LinkedIn profile and your résumé.
Headlines on Résumés
Unlike headlines on LinkedIn, there is no default in a résumé (unless you are using a generic template which I don’t recommend). Job seekers should create customized headlines for every unique opportunity. Résumé headlines can be title based or outcomes based. Below are a few examples:
Example 1: Accounting Manager │ Financial & Data Analyst │ Compliance & Auditing Leader
Example 2: Cost Savings │ Process Improvement │ Risk Mitigation │ Profit Optimization
Résumé headlines are typically one line and contain no more than 3-4 individual components. Use font size, color, bolding and other accents to draw attention to the headline. It should stand out near the top of your résumé.
Myth: I cannot use a headline with a job title I’ve never held.
False: Headlines are descriptions of your skills and abilities. You should not falsify your background, such as calling yourself a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) if you are not. Yet, you can call yourself an Accounting Manager if you have strong accounting and leadership skills. So, if your goal is to be an Accounting Manager, you can use that headline even if you have never held that exact title.
Myth: A headline must be a job title or series of job titles.
False: While headlines are most commonly job titles, that’s not a rule. Demonstrating value and key skills can be excellent alternatives (see example 2 under Headlines on Résumés above). A headline can also be a short, powerful accomplishment. Such as “Reduced vendor costs by 35% within 18 months.”
Myth: My headline should reflect my strongest skills or accomplishments.
False: Headlines should reflect and support your candidacy for a position by being relevant. While you may consider earning a Ph.D. in History to be your greatest accomplishment, it may not be the most relevant. A manager who is hiring for an accounting position will be less impressed by your history expertise than your accounting expertise. Keep your headline relevant and impactful.
Your LinkedIn profile and résumé are marketing tools. Writing for your target audience is critical. The target audience of a job seeker is typically a recruiter or hiring manager with a specific need. Express your skills and accomplishments that matter to them. Think about what solves their problem. Write your profile and résumé with the reader in mind. Market yourself!