As the first thing the hiring manager typically sees when looking at a resume, a header contributes to the initial impression of a candidate. Thus, it should be visually appealing, tasteful and easily readable. This block also must provide critical contact information so that the employer readily knows how to get in touch to set up an interview.
Ready to design a resume header that accomplishes these objectives? Here are things to consider:
As the name implies, a header goes at the top of a resume. Many job seekers opt for a centered header. It quickly catches the eye and is a "safe" choice since hirers are used to seeing resumes in this style. Candidates who decide to place the header to a side generally favor the left and align it with text. This arrangement has a natural feel since people read left to right.
Black remains the most common color for information in the header. To create a consistent and polished look, applicants oftentimes keep the header in the same font as the rest of the document.
People who wish to express their individuality often view the header as the best section of the resume in which to do so. Certain fields – especially artistic ones – accept or even welcome such diversion. Others – such as banking, law and other conservative areas – prefer sticking with tradition. Know your industry, and proceed with caution.
"There is some room for creativity when it comes to headers. However, you do not want it to become a distraction," says Kayleigh Christenson, senior account manager at Avenica, an innovative education-to-work platform. "For instance, if you would like to make your header font larger, I recommend only going up 1 or 2 points from the rest of the resume's font size. When it comes to adjustments like changing up the colors, think neutral and professional."
A few things to consider when designing a resume header include:
- A decorative line between your name and remainder of the header information
- Your initials in a box with header info to the side or beneath
- A lightly shaded header
- Only your name in color
Visual appeal is just part of designing a header. Appropriate information is a must.
"A header should always contain your full name; if you go by a shortened version of your name, feel free to put that in quotations after your first name (such as Jonathon "John" Doe)," Christenson says. "Your header should also include your email address and phone number so the hiring team knows how to get in contact with you right away."
Resumes used to commonly contain a candidate's street address, too. Due to privacy concerns, however, a growing number of people choose to omit this information.
"It is completely understandable to not want to include your full address on a resume," Christenson says. "I recommend simply listing your current city and state. If you live in a larger metro area, such as Minneapolis, it may be helpful to include specifics such as South Minneapolis or Northeast Minneapolis. This will help the hiring manager determine if you are in the right area for their needs."
Besides the aforementioned basics, applicants sometimes like to include links to an online portfolio or their LinkedIn page in the header. Also, if there is a credential you know employers specifically seek, that can be included with your name. Examples include Mary E. Smith, RN and Joan B. Anderson, CPA.
Once you finalize the look and content of your header, be sure to perform one last action: Proofread! Few things are as embarrassing as spelling your own name wrong or providing a potential employer with an out-of-date telephone number.