Resume headers play an important role in your resume and job search. A seemingly simple, yet profoundly crucial component of your resume, a well-designed professional resume header isn’t just a good idea for your resume; it is a necessary part of it.
Placed at the top of your resume, your resume header serves as the initial handshake between you and your potential employer. It’s not just about listing your name and contact details; it’s about presenting them in a manner that’s both aesthetically pleasing and functionally efficient.
A well-designed and professional resume header ensures that hiring managers, amidst the hustle and bustle of their day, can quickly and easily locate the essential information to reach out to you, without having to sift through pages of content.
Why Does the Header Matter?
Why do we care so much about resume headers? After all, isn’t the header just our name and contact details such as a phone number and email address? The answer is simple: In today’s fast-paced world, that top part is like our personal logo. It tells people who we are quickly and clearly. If done right, the resume header can contribute to our personal branding and stick in a hiring manager’s mind.
But there’s another big reason to get your resume headers right. In our digital-centric world, some 90% of employers rely on applicant tracking systems (ATS) to manage applicants through the hiring process. A misformatted resume header can lead to your crucial contact details being overlooked by the ATS, potentially sidelining your application from the start.
Let’s dive into how to create a resume header, including taking a look at some resume header examples.
As already explained, your resume is a vital tool for communicating and reinforcing your personal brand, and the header stands front and center. A good resume header isn’t just a space for basic contact details; it’s a strategic area to present them professionally and accessibly. Let’s break down the key elements to include and how to do so.
How To Include Your Name in Your Resume
Most importantly, your resume header should include your name, usually in a font slightly bigger than the font you’ve used for the section headings on your resume.
What if everyone in your personal and professional life knows you by a nickname rather than your formal name? The most common practice is to include your formal name followed by the nickname in parentheses. This approach provides clarity and maintains professionalism. For example, Katherine “Katie” Smith. This is especially important if you’re known by your nickname on platforms such as LinkedIn. Ensure that whatever name you choose to use is consistent across all job application materials and professional online profiles. For example, if your LinkedIn presents your name as “Thomas N. Smith,” write it exactly the same way, middle initial included, in your resume header.
One exception: If your nickname might be confusing, misleading, or unprofessional, it’s better to stick with your formal name. For instance, if your name is Richard and your friends call you “Richie Rich,” it’s probably best to use “Richard” or “Rich” on your resume.
In some cultures, changing one’s name due to marriage is common, and there are best practices for handling this on a resume, especially if you have professional accomplishments or a reputation associated with your maiden name. To ensure continuity and recognition, here are two options for how to handle this:
- Firstname (Maidenname) Marriedname: e.g., Jane (Doe) Smith
- Firstname Maidenname-Marriedname: e.g., Jane Doe-Smith
If it’s been many years since the name change and your recent accomplishments are under your married name, you might choose to use only your married name in your resume header.
How To Include Your Address in Your Resume
Your resume header should also include your “general” address. In the U.S., it has become standard to include just the town or city, state, and zip code. Your full, physical street address is often considered sensitive information; you should omit it from your resume. Including your street address may cause privacy issues, and it could also open you to discrimination.
If you are job searching in an attempt to move to a new geographic area, it is acceptable to include the city, state, and zip code of the place to which you intend to relocate. If you worry that this is misleading, you may wish to include the phrase “Relocating to City Name, State, Zip Code.” These key pieces of your address–your city, state, and zip code on your resume–can play an important role in an ATS search, so including the location you are moving to rather than the one you are moving from will be to your benefit.
What if you are open to working remotely? Should this replace your physical address in your header? In most cases, “no” it shouldn’t replace this information. However, you could reinforce your remote work desire by including a line such as “open to remote work” in addition to your address within the resume header.
How To Include Your Phone Number in Your Resume
You should also include your phone number. Ideally, this will be your cell phone number, and there is no need to label it as such. Just include your full number with the area code.
If you still have a landline, there is no need to include both. It is preferable that you include only a number for a phone that you know will be answered professionally every time and that the person answering your phone will take an accurate message. In other words, it is not good to include a landline if there is a possibility that your six-year-old child or your teen going through a rebellious stage might answer it. If you are still employed, never include your work number. Doing so may leave a poor impression. No future employer will be impressed by the idea that you may use your time at work to look for another job.
How To Include Your Email Address in Your Resume
Your professional email address is another standard way to contact you that should be in your resume header. You should form the address professionally.
Your resume is not the place to use your personal address: email@example.com. Also, avoid addresses that reveal your family status: firstname.lastname@example.org or your age: email@example.com. “Older” email addresses can also give away your age. For example, if you still have an @aol or @hotmail address, it is time to update it. Of course, just like with your phone number, never use your work email address.
You may include a clickable email address in the header, to make it easy for the hiring manager to email you.
How To Include Your LinkedIn Profile URL in Your Resume
Finally, it has also become standard to include a link to your LinkedIn profile in your resume header. If you do not have a LinkedIn profile, it is time to start one. LinkedIn has grown to play a vital role in professional networking and job searching. The first thing many hiring managers will do after reviewing your resume is review your LinkedIn profile. Or vice versa. It has become quite common for hiring managers to use LinkedIn as a primary recruiting source, and only after they’ve found you through LinkedIn will they reach out and ask for your resume.
Make it easy for them to find and contact you in either case. If your LinkedIn address is still the default from when you created your profile (if it still has all the random numbers and letters in it, it is almost surely the default), take five minutes to customize it. For example, I changed my LinkedIn address to linkedin.com/in/michelledumas. Before I did that, I had all sorts of random numbers at the end after my name, which looks sloppy and unprofessional on a resume.
In rare cases, if and only if you have other social media profiles that are 100% focused on professional topics, you may include them in the header of your resume. For example, if you have a Twitter/X account that you use to promote your image as an expert in your industry, you may include your Twitter handle (now known as an X handle). If you write a blog focused solely on professional or industry topics, or an online portfolio website, you might include a link to this in your resume header. But never include links to personal social media profiles or other personal websites in your resume header.
To show how you can place and format your contact information, here are two resume header examples from our New Horizons resume template for experienced professionals and Project Prestige project manager resume template.