How to Write a Resume Header

Your resume header is the very first thing an employer will see. Not only does it need to contain the correct information, but it needs to stand out as well! In this guide, we will teach you how to write the ideal header for your resume.

Ed Moss
Written by Ed Moss • Last updated on Jun 29, 2021

What is a Resume Header?

A resume header is a short section that includes an applicant’s relevant personal information.

The header of a resume is the first section you should include on a resume.

There are 3 main purposes a resume header serves:

  • Introducing You to Employers: Your header is the very first part of your resume an employer looks at. This makes the header your chance to introduce yourself and include memorable details.
  • Building a Strong First Impression: Once the employer has been introduced to you, you need to make a lasting first impression. The way you design and structure your header will help you to achieve a good impression.
  • Providing Your Personal Details: The amount of personal information will vary depending on the job and applicant. Typically, you should include at least your name and an email or phone number.   

Though your header will be short and simple, paying attention to details still matters.

By the end of this guide, you will know how to craft an effective resume header to land your dream job.

We will cover everything from what information to include to how to format it.

Beautiful resume templates to land your dream job

What is the Right Resume Header for My Application

When deciding how to write your resume header, it is important to take style and design into consideration.

To choose which style best fits your needs, you must consider how much space you have on your resume.

You should also consider the purpose of your resume, such as what level of experience you are trying to portray.

The 3 main types of resume header styles include:

  • Name and Contact Information: This is the most standard header format you will see. The name will often be larger and bolded. The contact information will generally fall right below the name.
  • Name and Job Title: With this header format, you will include a job title either beside or underneath your name. Typically, there will also be contact information included underneath the job title.
  • Name and Summary: This type of header will list your name and then a professional summary or objective statement underneath. There may also be a job title included. This may not leave enough room for the contact information, which will need to be listed elsewhere on the resume.

Where Do I Put My Contact Information

In headers of any style, it is crucial to not let your contact information get lost.

Ideally, your contact information should fall directly below or closely adjacent to your name.

If it is not close to your name, it should be clearly labeled.

The goal is to make your contact information as simple to find as possible.

If an employer can’t easily find your email or phone number, your resume may be thrown out.

There are two main locations to list your contact information:

  • In the header
  • In a sidebar towards the top of the resume

Placing contact information into a sidebar can be helpful when using up header space for a title or summary.

However, we generally advise keeping the contact information within the header when possible.

A sidebar can also be useful as a place to list additional or non-essential contact information.

This may include a link to an online portfolio, a website, LinkedIn, or other social media.

Don’t list your contact information incorrectly and end up missing out on big opportunities!

Follow our guide on How to List Contact Information on Your Resume!

Business Analyst

What Do I Put in a Resume Header?

Once you have decided on a header style, it is time to sort out what information to include.

There are 4 essential pieces of information to include in a resume header:

  1. Your Name: You want to maintain consistency with your name. If you use a nickname, make sure to only use it on your resume if it is listed elsewhere as well. Generally, you want to list your full legal name and provide employers with nicknames later.
  2. Your Phone Number: This can be a cellphone or landline, just be sure to include whichever you use the most. When including a phone number, only include one. Including too many takes up unnecessary space.
  3. A Professional Email: Your resume may be perfect in every way, but if you have an unprofessional email you can squander your chances. If you don’t already have one, make a new email with either just your name or your name and a keyword. The keyword should be related to the job you are applying for ideally.
  4. Your Job Title: Including a job title helps to make your header stand out more. Plus, it gives employers a clear idea of your professional goals.

There are, of course, other pieces of information you can use to bulk out your header a little more.

Just be sure to not crowd the header with too much information.

Additional pieces of information to include in a header or personal information section include:

  • Professional Summary or Objective: This is usually 1 to 3 sentences. It will describe your experience, career goals, and what you can bring to the company. Summaries and objectives are often used to apply for more advanced positions, such as for a senior-level job. 
  • Desired Position: If you are changing career paths or just entering the workforce, you may not have a job title yet. In this case, you may want to list your desired position. This should be tailored for each job you apply to.
  • Location: There is some debate on how much location information to include on a resume. When in doubt, try to at least include your city, state, and country.

Do I Include an Address in My Resume Header?

Let’s discuss the location portion of your contact information for a moment.

Resume professionals are often at odds over whether or not to include an address on your resume.

In the past, a full mailing address was required as a means of contact.

Nowadays, phones and email have made the use of snail mail increasingly sparse.

In general, you can omit a full mailing address from a resume.

However, you may still want to include a certain amount of location-related information.

Here are 3 key factors that come into play for employers looking at locations on a resume:

  1. Local Tax: Some employers will only want to hire local residents due to local tax regulations. Typically, these types of employers will specifically request information about your location.
  2. Relocation: Many companies are willing to work with candidates who need to relocate. Indicating a desire or plan to relocate on your resume can be helpful for this.
  3. Proximity: Employers may not be able to assist with relocations. This may drive them to seek out applicants who are in close enough proximity to the job.
Still not sure whether or not to include information about your location? Check out our article Should I Put My Address On My Resume for more help!


High School Teacher

How Do I Format a Resume Header?

When formatting your resume header, there are a few important aspects:

  • Conciseness: Your header should be very brief, ideally 50 words or less. If there is a summary or objective included, try to keep it short as well.
  • Readability: Simple language and sentence structures are key. Every part of your resume should be skimmable by the employer.
  • Design: While the rest of your resume should be as simple as possible, the header is where you can get a little more creative.

To best show you how to properly format a header, we will provide you with three examples of the header styles listed above.

Example 1: Name and Contact Information

Incorrect:

John Doe | (123) 456-7890, johndoe@gmail.com

Why It’s Wrong: In this example, the contact information is listed on the same line as the name.

Although the name is bolded and enlarged to help it stand out, this creates a distraction.

The name should always be given its own line and treated like the title to the entire document.

Correct:

John Doe
(123) 456-7890 | johndoe@gmail.com

In this corrected example, the name is the only piece of information on the first line.

This can be aligned either left, center, or right. All information within the header should use the same alignment.

Example 2: Name and Job Title

Incorrect:

John Doe, Computer Analyst
(123) 456-7890 | johndoe@gmail.com

Why It’s Wrong: The example is right in making the job title larger in text than the contact information.

However, the name should still be given a separate line.

Additionally, the job title should not be the same size as the name, as this is distracting.

Correct:

John Doe
Computer Analyst

(123) 456-7890 | johndoe@gmail.com

In this corrected example, the name has once again been given its own line.

The job title falls onto the second line in a smaller font and italics.

The font is still slightly larger than the contact information and the italics help the title to stand out.

Example 3: Name and Summary

Incorrect:

John Doe
Computer Analyst,
(123) 456-7890 | johndoe@gmail.com

Computer Analyst with over 10 years of experience working with programming languages and software analysis.

Seeking a senior-level position, bringing with me over 10 major corporate clients.

Why It’s Wrong: In this example, the applicant has tried to fit way too much information on the second line.

In this case, either the job title needs to be removed or the contact information needs to be relocated.

Correct:

John Doe
(123) 456-7890 | johndoe@gmail.com
Computer Analyst with over 10 years of experience working with programming languages and software analysis.
Seeking a senior-level position, bringing with me over 10 major corporate clients.

In this applicant’s summary, the first piece of information they mention is being a Computer Analyst.

This makes the use of a job title in the line before unnecessary.

Plus, it allows for the contact information to remain in the header.

Additionally, the summary has been italicized to help it stand out from the rest of the text.

This helps to create a less monotonous visual flow as well.

Need more help crafting your resume? Take a look at our guide on the 20 Best Resume Writing Tips and Tricks 2021 (with Free Checklist).  

IT Manager

How Do I Make My Resume Header Stand Out?

While you don’t want to go overboard, the header of your resume is where you can get a little more creative in your design elements.

Here are 5 ways to help your header stand out:

  • Shapes: Background shapes behind the text of the header can help to set the header apart from the rest of the resume. Be sure to use a non-distracting color and that the text can still be clearly read.
  • Color: While you don’t want to overuse color on a resume, the header is a great place to add a splash of color. You use color for background shapes and the text. Check out our article on Colors on a Resume: What Do Employers Really Think in 2021?
  • Fonts: When choosing fonts, you should stick to using only 1 to 2. While it may be tempting to use a fancy font, stick to simpler fonts such as Arial, Cambria, or Times New Roman. Enlarge the font size to help header text and section titles stand out.
  • Bolding: Bolding is one of the most powerful tools you have on a resume. Use bolding to help emphasize your name.
  • Italics: Italics are great for creating complementary pieces of text below larger, bolded fonts.

Headers for Different Levels of Experience and Industries

Every time you submit a resume, you should first take the time to tailor it to the job.

Jobs can differ in many ways, from different industries to varying levels of experience needed.

Here is a quick rundown of which type of header to consider using for the following use cases:

Use Case 1: Entry-Level Positions

When applying to an entry-level position, your header should include your name and contact information.

It may also be useful to include a LinkedIn, website, or online portfolio.

This will help especially if you are lacking in work experience.

For entry-level jobs, a job title and summary are generally unnecessary.

You won’t have the years of experience to back up either of these more than likely.

However, it may be useful to include an objective statement that explains your desired position and some of your skills and proficiencies.

Use Case 2: Mid- to Senior-Level Positions

When applying to mid to senior-level positions, using a job title and/or summary in your header is recommended.

For these higher-level positions, closer attention will be paid to the resume.

While entry-level applications will be skimmed, high-level applications will be closely compared.

In the summary, you should clearly detail your experience and qualifications.

If you have clients following you from a previous job, this is a good place to mention that as well.

Use Case 3: Specialized Industry Positions

Every industry is different.

Thus, every resume you submit to new industry needs to be tailored and optimized.

When applying to jobs in specific industries, the work experience section will ultimately play a larger role than the header.

However, the header is the best opportunity to introduce yourself as a professional in that field.

For professionals looking to switch careers or industries, including a summary or objective may be useful.

In it, they can describe why they are switching industries and what their future career goals look like.

Final Takeaways

Your resume header makes the first impression on employers.

By ignoring the formatting and quality of your header, you heighten the chances of missed opportunities.

Putting in the effort to tailor your header perfectly is essential.

Here are 3 key takeaways for writing your resume header:

  1. Get creative, but don’t overdo it. Use larger fonts, bolding, and italics to help your header stand out.
  2. Always try to include your contact information within a header. If there is not enough room, then include it at the top of a sidebar that is easily found and clearly labeled.
  3. Prioritize your name. The most important part of your header is your name. You don’t want to distract from it by including other information on the same line. Additionally, your name should be the largest piece of text on your resume.

Easy Resume offers a large collection of free-to-read resume guides. Make sure to check them all out for more examples, advice, and tips!

Ed Moss is an author for Easy Resume
Ed Moss
Ed is a co-founder of Easy Resume. His background in scaling teams at tech startups over the last decade has given him extensive experience and knowledge around how to hire top talent and build successful teams. He enjoys mentoring, coaching, and helping others reach their career goals. When he's not writing about career-related advice, he's playing with his dog, Lilo, or going on long hikes in upstate New York.
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