Even if you have a substantial, well-organized CV, you may feel stymied when it comes to writing up a great heading. Compared to the rest of your CV, the heading is a very short part of it. However, it is the first thing employers will see, so you need it to make the right impact. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Make sure it is the one you want by coming up with an effective heading. The following article offers some helpful guidelines to keep in mind while working on your CV heading.
When it comes to getting employers to notice your CV, not all attention is good attention. A negative first impression can send your application straight to the recycle bin, while a favorable one will keep hiring managers reading. In most non-creative professions, a gimmicky approach is likely to backfire. For this reason, it is usually not recommended to use colorful or unusual fonts, or to add illustrations or other eccentric features. Visually, stick to the tried and true. Your heading should be in the same type of professional font as the rest of your CV, bolded and slightly enlarged to make it stand out from the body of your CV.
As with most rules, the above is not an absolute. If you do think that a particular job you are applying for might actually appreciate a more unusual approach, do your research and follow your best judgment. If you are choosing to err on the side of creativity, be aware that this decision has its own difficulties. To stand out positively as a creative gesture, your flourishes should be unusual, witty or visually attractive. Above all, they should be appropriate to your prospective employer. A lazy choice such as using comic sans font will fall flat for any employer.
Your name is the top item you really want prospective employers to remember. Place it at the top of your document and on a separate line from the rest of your CV heading. Make it stand out visually with a larger font. Unless it is a widely accepted convention in your profession, do not add titles or degrees to your name. For example, physicians in the United States usually state their name as First name Last name, M.D. or D.O., but attorneys do not append a J.D. Be sure to research and follow the custom in your field because you will not want to appear ignorant of professional norms even in this relatively minor matter.
Next, you want your employer to know how to get in touch with you. This means providing a phone number and email address. Make sure that your number is one you can be regularly reached at and that your voicemail message states your name (so that callers know they did not get the wrong number) and sounds professional. Use or create a professional-looking email address as well. In most cases, the safest option is to use your name or initials. Another factor to consider is that in some industries your email service may matter as well, especially if you are applying for a position where tech savvy is required or preferred. If you’ve noticed that people tend to be surprised that your email service still exists, you may think about finding a more up-to-date one.
Even in this digital age, although your prospective employer is unlikely to ever send you paper mail, you should still have your street address on your CV heading. One reason is that listing your address is a long-standing convention. Employers, especially those in more conservative industries, expect to see it in your heading and may count its absence against you. Another is that it lets employers know how far you live from the job location.
The heading is the first part of your CV to catch an employer’s eye. Make it count by keeping it professional and relevant. Continue to use quality CV samples and guides to help you craft your own impressive CV.