When you begin the entire process of writing a résumé, your focus will likely be on effectively marketing your top skills, experience and qualifications — and rightfully so. It is in these sections, after all, that employers will spend most of their reading time to assess whether you’re, one, qualified for the job and, two, worthy of a job interview.
But what many jobseekers often overlook is the header section. It’s just your name and contact information, right? So, why does it deserve special attention?
Well, it’s the first thing that employers will look at. And if you mess it up, why should they bother reading through the rest of your résumé?
The good news is that the header section is the easiest and most straightforward of all résumé sections to craft. And this article will show you how to do just that — complete with practical tips and inspiring examples.
A header, also sometimes known as a letterhead, is the very first section of your résumé. Its purpose is to tell readers who you are, how to contact you, and where they can find you online. It’s sort of like a business card.
When done right, it has the power to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to learn more about you.
Your résumé header must include, at the very least, your name, phone number, email address and location. You can also include some additional information, like your job title or a headline, links to your online profiles, some personal details, and a professional photo.
Here, we’ll walk you through the various components of an effective header, and provide you with useful tips and examples along the way.
Perhaps the most important part of the header is your name. This should appear at the very top, and should be the same name you use across all your online profiles and professional documents.
Here’s what it looks like:
Job title or headline
On a separate line immediately after your name, you can list your job title, for example:
Alternatively, you can add a headline (which is an extension of your title, along with a notable achievement), like so:
Starting another line, add your most accessible phone number (but never your work number). Avoid using hyphens or periods between number parts and instead use spaces, for example:
If you’re applying for jobs outside the country, meanwhile, make sure to add the country code before your phone number. If you have a US number, the code should be formatted as either "001" or "+(1)".
Email is the most common way that recruiters will get in touch with you (right after by phone), so including your email address in the header is essential.
Here’s an example:
Make sure you have a professional-sounding email address — something like [email protected] will definitely leave an impression, but not the right kind.
Next, add your general location — not your full mailing address (which is unnecessary, takes up more space, and opens you up to all sorts of privacy and discrimination issues).
Only list your city and state, like so:
If you’re outside the US or applying for jobs abroad, include the country you’re based in, as shown below:
LinkedIn profile link
Although optional, including a link to your LinkedIn profile (where you’ll have hopefully expanded on your experience and accomplishments) is highly encouraged, like so:
When you sign up to LinkedIn, a profile URL will be automatically generated for you, which usually contains a string of random numbers. It’s a good idea to customize the URL, which you can do by navigating to the public profile settings page.
Social media links
Including links to your Facebook, Twitter and other social media profiles in your header is highly recommended — provided, of course, that they add value to your application (you’re a social media manager, for example, or you use your social accounts to post about industry trends, news and opinions).
Here’s an example of social media links:
Avoid using your personal social media accounts (at least not without giving them a little spring-clean first). Ideally, you should set up separate accounts for your professional online presence.
For the most part, you should avoid including personal details like your date of birth and marital status in your résumé, as it puts you at risk of discrimination. There are, however, a few exceptions, such as:
- You’re in a profession where your physical attributes (like your height, weight, and hair and eye color) are important to the role you’re applying for, such as an actor.
- You’re applying for a government position, which requires the inclusion of your nationality and citizenship.
- You’re applying for a job in a country where it’s standard practice to include some personal details (in most EU countries, for example, you’re expected to mention your gender and date of birth).
If you do include personal details in your header, add everything together on a separate line from your contact information, like so:
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t add a photo on your résumé — unless you’re applying for modeling, acting or news presenting positions, or for jobs in countries where a photo is required (like Germany and the United Arab Emirates, for example). In this case, it should ideally be placed in the top right corner of the page, and it generally shouldn’t be any larger than a standard passport-size photo.
Make sure to invest in a professional headshot if you’re going to use one in your résumé — a selfie won’t cut it!
Now that you know what to include in your header, here are a few things to consider when putting it together:
1. Choose the right font and font size
The font you use in your header should be consistent with the one used in the rest of your résumé. You can, however, use a different font for your name so it stands out more (as long as it is complementary to your main font), or even a different font weight or bolding.
Although the font type you choose will generally determine the font size, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:
- Your name should be set to anywhere between 20 and 28 points.
- Your job title or headline should be 14–18 points.
- Your contact information and personal details should be set to 10–12 points.
2. Be consistent with text alignment
Unlike the main text of your résumé, which should always be aligned to the left, you can play with your header’s horizontal alignment and place it on the left, center or right of the page.
That said, make sure everything is consistent. If your name is aligned to the center of the page, for example, so too should your job title and contact information.
3. Make sure links are clickable
This makes them easily accessible and spares the recruiter a few seconds from having to copy and paste URLs into their browser’s address bar.
On that note, avoid hyperlinking generic text (eg: “Website”) and instead list links as naked URLs (eg: “careeraddict.com”). This way, if the recruiter can’t open the link for whatever reason, they’ll still know where to go.
4. Label your information
Though a recruiter can hazard a pretty good guess that +(1) 800 555 1234 is your phone number, it will only look like a string of random numbers to an applicant tracking system.
And as your résumé will likely be scanned by an ATS before it’s even reviewed by a human recruiter (and will discard applications it deems problematic), adding appropriate labels to your information in the header section is incredibly important.
That said, you only need to label your contact information (eg: “Phone” and “Email”) and any listed personal details (eg: “Date of Birth” and “Marital Status”). There’s no need to label your name or job title.
5. Use icons carefully
Generally speaking, you should avoid using icons in your résumé, as ATSs won’t be able to read them. That said, you can use them (instead of labels, for example), as long as you do so thoughtfully — adding relevant alt text to each icon can be a good idea here.
Whatever you do, though, don’t use icon fonts like IcoFont and Font Awesome, and instead opt for icon vectors.
6. Don’t use the page header function
When creating your résumé header, make sure it’s placed within the document’s main content area — not within its header area (that is to say the section in the top margins). Most ATSs ignore any text placed inside the header and footer areas of a Word document and will discard your application if it can’t identify basic information like your name and contact details.
7. Use white space effectively
Make sure your header — and your résumé as a whole, for that matter — contains plenty of white space (that is the empty space around content and design elements), particularly vertical spacing between the different header components.
Instead of adding a new line to create space between the different elements of your header, though, it’s better to adjust the line height. In Word, you can do this by selecting the text whose line height you want to modify and adjusting the “Before” and “After” settings in the line spacing box.
8. Don’t add a “Résumé” title
I’ve seen many résumés over the years that have “Résumé” or “Curriculum Vitae” written at the top of the page.
Don’t do this. Not only does it waste valuable space, but it also insults the recruiter’s intelligence. They know that what they’re reading is your résumé, after all — you don’t need to point out the obvious.
9. Keep it on the first page only
If your résumé goes over one page, you might be wondering whether you should include your header on all subsequent pages. The answer is no. It should only be used on the first page.
That said, you can — and should — add it to the other documents of your application package, including your list of references and cover letter. This helps to create an instantly recognizable personal brand.
10. Check for typos
Finally, proofread the header (and the rest of your résumé) to check for typos and formatting issues. And then proofread it again. The last thing you want is to list an old phone number or a misspelled email address — and, consequently, no way for recruiters to contact you.
Use the following template as a starting point for your own résumé header:
Phone: [Phone number] | Email: [Email address] | Location: [City, State/Country]
Website: [Website link] | LinkedIn: [LinkedIn profile link]
[Personal details, as required]
Want to see a résumé header in action? Here are a few examples to use as inspiration:
Standard résumé header example
Résumé header example with photo
Résumé header example with personal details
Creating a résumé header section is quite easy, and the tips and examples shared in this article will have hopefully helped you throughout the process. Just keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Always include your name, phone number, email address and location. You can also add your job title or a headline, links to your online presence and, in certain situations, your photo and some personal details.
- Place it at the top of the first page only (not on any subsequent pages), but don’t place it within the document’s header area.
- Label the information within your header, ensure links are clickable, and steer clear from adding the word “Résumé”.
Got a question about résumé headers? Let us know in the comments section below.