Resume Tips

Resume Header: Styling Tips and Examples

resume header styling

You are working on your resume.  You’ve got most of the sections are already flashed — work experience, education, certifications, skills. But the document still looks half-finished. Why? Because your resume lacks a high-performing header! 

Do I Need a Header on My Resume?

Thousand times yes! A resume header is a standard element of a professional resume design. Most HRs will expect to have your name and contact details present atop your resume. The only exception to this rule is if you are using a resume template with a sidebar. In this case, you can use the upper right corner of the document to list your name, contact details, address, and other professional tidbits. 

Should the Second Page of My Resume Have a Header Too?

No. There’s no need to duplicate your header on the second page of your resume. Doing so is plain redundant. Instead, use the salvaged space to cram in some extra professional details such as your accomplishments, extra work entries, education, and professional certifications. 

What is a Good Header for a Resume?

A good header for a resume does one thing well — introduces you to the hiring manager. 

The goal of a header is to command the readers’ attention and help them understand what you do, how to contact you, and where they can learn more about you. For example, via your LinkedIn profile or a personal website.  

Resume Header Examples 

To help you better understand what makes an amazing resume header, we’ve lined up several examples from our database of free resume templates

Standard Resume Header

the intelligent applicant resume header

Based on the Intelligent Applicant resume template

This resume header template provides just enough room to include your full name and contact details, but not much more. It’s a standard, conservative option that works well for most industries. 

Resume Header with Photo 

Based on The Feminine resume template

Placing a professional headshot in your resume header helps the reader better match the face with the name. So that when they decide to give your resume a second look after the job interview, they’ll have a faster time locating your file.   

Bold Resume Header with Professional Tagline 

Contrast resume header

Based on the Contrast resume template

If you are an accomplished professional after a job in a competitive industry like retail, sales, or marketing, spruce up your resume header with a professional tagline. 

Here’s an option from our retail associate resume example:

“Experienced Retail Sales Clerk”

Resume Header with a Professional Summary 

the new candidate resume header

Based on The New Candidate resume template

You can get the reader interested in learning more about you by providing a brief summary of your key skills and accomplishments. For example, as a scientist, you could style your resume with the following professional summary from our sample scientist resume

“Tenured Ecology Professor. Current affiliation: Rutger Research University. Experienced in
educating, and mentoring students in the life sciences at undergraduate and graduate levels”

Resume Header with an Objectives Statement 

the smart flow resume header

Based on The Smart Flow resume template

Adding a resume objective makes the most sense for those new to the workforce — current students, recent graduates, interns, and people returning to work after a break. This quick clause helps you explain your motivation for applying.

The sample resume header below uses information from an undergraduate research assistant resume

“Honors Behavioral Science MS student seeks a position as a research assistant at the University of Colorado. Eager to conduct field research and apply my statistical analytics skills to contribute to your research.” 

How to Make a Resume Header: Step-by-Step 

You now have a good bunch of resume header styling options to pick and choose from. The next step is to design that header for your resume. Here’s how to do this: 

1. Decide on the Header Type 

The three most standard types of resume headers styles are: 

  • Standard professional header
  • Resume objective
  • Resume summary 

Let’s zoom in on each option.

Standard Professional Header

The most basic version of a resume header includes three things — your name + surname, phone number, and an email address. 

These days few people go on to list their full personal address, because not many people communicate through snail mail these days. So drop that to save some valuable space! 

Instead, consider adding a hyperlink to your LinkedIn profile and a personal website (if you have one). Adding links to other social media accounts such as Twitter or Instagram makes sense if you work in marketing and want to showcase your online presence. Linking up a GitHub account makes sense for software engineers, while links to Behance are a must for designers. 

Now the big question is: should you add a photo to your resume header? Unless the job ad strictly instructs you not to (for compliance or regulatory reasons), feel free to add one. 

Resume Objective

In addition to listing your personal details, you may also want to add a resume objective statement. 

A resume objective is a formal introductory statement explaining what you expect to gain from the position and what you can offer as an employee. 

To be fully honest, resume objectives are a bit of a dated concept, which is only favored by some corporate organizations with a very formal process. Think federal organizations, educational institutions, and some legal companies.

A resume objective makes sense in a resume header when you are:

  • An entry-level candidate without much relevant experience 
  • Changing careers and wish to address your motivation 
  • Returning to the workforce after a break 

In other cases, it’s best to go for a less formal resume summary.

Resume Summary 

A resume objective is focused on your career goals. A resume summary provides a broader overview of your value as a hire. 

Think of a resume summary as a trailer to the full movie (your resume) — it should provide an intriguing sneak-peak into what’s coming up next. 

The goal of a resume summary is to position you as the optimal fit for the role by highlighting your core competencies, biggest achievements, and most marketable skills.  Compared to a resume objective, a summary can be slightly longer: 2-3 short succinct sentences.

Resume summaries are more popular with employees these days, so go for this option whenever you are after a competitive position. 

2. Brainstorm a Resume Headline 

A resume header is the topmost part of your resume — a resume headline is an online brandable statement you can add either next to or under your name. 

Why do you need a resume header? To make those skimming HRs understand what you do for a living without digging deeper into your resume. 

Adding a resume header is an especially good idea when you are applying to a staffing agency.  Or when your send over your resume along with a letter of interest in an attempt to get your foot in the door. Having a header makes it easier for the reader to recall what you do since your resume will be stored alongside many others.  

What Should I Put for My Resume Headline?

The most logical option is your current professional title, for example, Warehouse Manager. You can also be a bit more elaborate and drop some extra cues such as professional certifications, years of experience, your industry or specialty. For example: “Sales Associate in Pharma | EMEA Market | Salesforce Certified”. 

Finally, if your resume template accommodates that, go for a longer headline with a quick summary of your skills. For example:

Senior Cloud Engineer
Full-stack  | Java | Node.js  | DevOps | AWS Certified 

3. Adjust Your Resume Layout and Design 

You’ve come up with several resume header options, now you need to fit them onto your resume design.

You have two options to style a resume header area:

  • The classic option — place a header atop your resume before all other sections.
  • The creative option — mesh your header with a sidebar and have it in the top left corner of your resume. 

Both options are fine as long as you visually highlight the area. Remember: the reader should never struggle to find your name and contact details. Or how else will they call you in for an interview? 

Regardless of which layout option you choose, be sure to follow these resume header design tips:  

  • Use a bigger font for your header e.g. 22 point in Word. Then use a smaller font for your contact details.
  • For resumes that must be submitted as Word documents rather than PDFs, be sure to use a font that is supported by Word. Or your contact details won’t be displayed! 
  • If you plan to add a header atop your resume, it should occupy about 1/4th of the entire page. You can expand the area a bit to fit a longer resume summary. 
  • To further accentuate the area, try adding a background in contrast color. But make sure that all texts remain readable.
  • If you need to save some space, use icons to indicate your email or phone instead of typed words. 

Finally, if graphic design isn’t your strength, grab a professional resume template from our team with a resume header style you fancy! 

To Conclude 

The best-performing resumes have a strong visual appeal. Since a resume header is the first thing a prospective employer will see, you’d gotta make a mark with it. 

To recap, a good resume header has your full name, contact information, a professional title (or headline), and a punchy resume summary. You can place a resume header either atop of all other sections or atop of the sidebar area so that it sits in the upper left corner. Now, go and add one to your resume.


  • Elena Prokopets

    Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice... more

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