STEM Resume Breakdown, Part 2 of 6 – How to Craft a Branded Headline

A branded headline on a resume is designed to position you for the role you want, not the one you have (unless they are the same thing). Welcome to part 2 of my 6-part STEM resume writing series, where we will discuss how to create a branded headline that conveys your career identity and value. Let’s get started!

Personal Branding and your Job Search

The most successful job seekers (and my most successful clients) can communicate who they are, what they’re good at, and how they add value. Essentially, these are the core messages you want to communicate when applying for a job. When done right, you open doors to new job opportunities and promotions while establishing your foothold as an industry thought leader and competing in today’s global marketplace.

For years, it was assumed that personal branding was only for high-level corporate executives, industry titans, and celebrities. Not anymore. Everyone can benefit from developing a personal brand around their strengths, passions, and other characteristics.

Some great examples of scientists and engineers who have leveraged personal branding include British astrophysicist Dr. Rebecca Smethurst (aka Dr. Becky) and American mechanical engineer and science educator Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Part 2 in our 6-part STEM resume breakdown series will concentrate on:

  • How a branded headline positions you for the role you want
  • Examples of targeted, branded STEM resume headlines
  • How to create a branded headline and supporting statement

Let’s get started!

What is a branded headline?

A branded headline works just like a newspaper or article headline, except it’s designed to position you for your next career move. Most job seekers write their resumes for the role they have and not the one they want. This is the #1 mistake I see most people make.

Most job seekers do not include a branded headline on their resumes. That’s a mistake.

Remember: recruiters spend an average of 4-6 seconds reviewing a single resume. It’s incredible how much impact the right words can make in moving your resume to that yes pile.

I take a 2-fold approach in resume personal branding:

  • Create a branded headline that stakes a claim on the position you are seeking
  • Formulate a branding statement that resonates with prospective employers

Let’s look at examples of branded resume headlines and statements that have been written for previous STEM clients. All names and personal information are fictionalized to protect client confidentiality.

Examples of Branded Headlines on STEM Resumes

Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes for a moment.

You’re trying to fill one of those hard-to-fill electrical engineering positions. For the last hour, you’ve been combing through dozens of resumes, all sporting the same default look: black and white with Times New Roman font. Within 20 minutes, boredom begins to set in until you see Patricia’s resume.

Why is this branded headline effective?

Within a few words, we communicate a lot of information about Patricia. We immediately stake a claim on her career target, Electrical Engineer.

We also highlight distinguishing features that connect her background to the target role:

  • MS (Electrical Engineering) and a Project Management Professional (PMP).
  • A specific engineering discipline – energy and power engineering.
  • A sharp tagline alludes to the value she can deliver to prospective employers.

In just a few words, the reader has a feel of Patricia’s overall “fit” and expertise before speaking with her and will be more likely to continue skimming her resume and calling her for an interview. Let’s look at a second example for an information security client.

We took a similar approach to position Martin for a senior Hardware Engineering role. Like Patricia’s headline, we indicated exactly what Martin wanted to target for his next career move. During our work together, he wanted to emphasize his dual expertise in hardware engineering and information security.

Let’s look at one final example of a Clinical R&D Director.

Cynthia was a more experienced candidate looking to advance to a director-level role within the clinical pharmaceutical R&D space.

Together, we developed a supporting statement encompassing the key brand attributes she wanted to emphasize for her next career target, her ability to shape and execute operations strategy, and build and motivate high-performance teams.

You may notice that we applied the shading technique featured in part 1 of our series to add additional flair.

How do you come up with a branded headline?

Remember, a strong branded headline positions you for the role you want, NOT the one you have (unless they are the same thing).

In my experience, some job seekers are initially resistant to having a branded headline on their resume for 2 main reasons:

1) Resume personal branding is still seen as cutting-edge.

Unless you’ve worked in HR, recruiting, or played a role in the hiring process, it’s unlikely that you have seen many resumes that include a headline.

2) Varying degrees of imposter syndrome are at work.

This is especially prevalent among job seekers targeting a role they’ve never held. How did you think others have gone on to land higher-level roles?

There was a time when you could show up to work, put in your time, and hope to earn recognition for your efforts.

Those days are over, especially if you aim to reach greater professional heights.


In today’s modern job market, you need to become an entrepreneur in your career.


Reflect on your current and former positions and compare them to your career target(s). Think about your proudest (and most relevant) skills and achievements and how you can tie those assets to your desired career direction.

Dig deeper.

The strongest headlines weave in keywords that describe why your particular skills and qualifications align with the job target.

By including a branded headline on your resume, you will set yourself miles apart from the majority of job seekers. However, branded headlines are most effective when accompanied by a brief supporting statement, like the examples above.

How do you develop a value-added supporting statement?

The supporting statement strengthens your resume headline by giving the reader an idea of the unique value you can offer their company.

Keep the following 4 tips in mind when creating your supporting statement:

  • Make it short and attention-grabbing, aiming for 20 words or less.
  • Focus on the strengths and values that resonate with the prospective employer.
  • Set the tone and pace for the supporting accomplishments throughout your resume.
  • Avoid overused words and phrases. (Ex: hard worker, great communicator, etc.)*

*While nothing is wrong with those qualities, it’s easy for anyone to make those claims. Employers are more interested to see you cite specific evidence of those claims in your work history.

Even if you’re entering the workforce for the first time, you can still benefit from personal branding. Use the guidelines in this post and your own experiences to identify your skills, knowledge, and attributes. Consider how those attributes relate to your career target. Remember, developing and growing a personal brand takes time, but it’s a valuable investment that pays dividends in helping you build relationships with an audience beyond your current and former companies.

What did you come up with for your branded headline and supporting statement? Feel free to let me know in the comments. Don’t forget to check out our next post in the STEM Resume Breakdown, Part 3 of 6 – How to Write a Striking Summary.

Scientech Resumes is dedicated to helping science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals find fulfilling work through targeted, branded, and keyword-optimized resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and other career marketing documents. Schedule a FREE 20-minute discovery session to get real-time feedback on your current resume and job search strategy, or connect with me on LinkedIn. Let’s get you where you want to go with greater results!


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