STEM Resume Breakdown, Part 1 of 6 – How to Create an Attractive Resume Header

INTRODUCTION
This 6-part STEM resume writing series will start with creating a resume header. This post will cover what information to include (and not include), how to use resume space, and other FAQs. I’ll also share some examples of resume headers that illustrate these principles visually. Let’s get started!

As a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) professional, writing your resume is more challenging due to the highly technical nature of your role.

My inspiration for creating this series was to help alleviate the stress and overwhelm that comes with writing a resume while cutting through the bullshit and other conflicting resume writing advice you run across on the Internet.

In this first post, you will learn  how to create an attractive resume header, including:

  • What information to include (and not include)
  • How to effectively use resume header space
  • Examples of different resume headers
  • Frequently asked questions

Let’s get started!


Why dedicate an entire post to the resume header?

Simply put, every detail matters. The resume header is one of the first areas a reader will see. It includes the most important information a prospective employer will need to contact you for an interview.

This post is designed to help you create a professional, easy-to-read resume header that puts your best foot forward.

In my experience, most resume headers take a standard approach that looks like the fictionalized example below.

resume header

You may be wondering, what’s wrong with this header?

Nothing. But put yourself in the employer’s shoes for a moment. Does this header look or feel inspiring?

Online job postings receive an average of 250 resumes. This number can reach into the thousands for large companies. Perhaps 100 of those resumes will be screened out by either the applicant tracking system (ATS) or the Recruiter.

Out of those 100 resumes, 25 may be seen by the Hiring Manager. Among those 25 resumes, anywhere from 4 to 6 applicants will be invited for an interview.

Most resumes tend to have the same black-and-white look with Times New Roman font. If you are a Recruiter or a Hiring Manager who views up to hundreds of resumes daily, weekly, etc., this gets boring quickly.

Fortunately, there are several easy strategies you can use to add variety to your resume header.

I’m going to share some example headers from real Scientech Resumes’ clients.

All names and personal information are disguised to protect client confidentiality.

resume header


This example uses the resume header space more effectively while adding a splash of color to draw your eye to the name. All of the necessary information that an employer will need to contact Eric is represented.

Since this candidate was pursuing an IT role, we added a link to his GitHub portfolio. If you choose to add a link to an online portfolio, blog, or social media profile, make sure that the content is professional and relevant to your job target.

Should you include a partial address?

In Eric Chao’s header, we give his city, state, and zip code. Depending on your personal situation, you may or may not choose to include this information, although there are situations where I’d recommend this approach, such as:

  • You’re applying for a position advertising for local candidates only. Employers favor local candidates because there are fewer obstacles in the hiring process.
  • You’re applying for a position out of state (or country). I advise including the city, state, and zip code closest to the position in case the company programmed their applicant tracking system (ATS) to screen candidates based on location.
  • You prefer to not include one. Communication in the hiring process has gone digital, making it more commonplace to leave the full address off your resume.

Let’s check out some more resume header examples …

Joseph built an exciting career working in law and healthcare, so we added a graphic that symbolized his dedication to both fields.

When used appropriately, a graphic can be a creative, yet subtle way to add flair to a resume header.

resume header

In Lisa Silber’s case, we take a more formal approach using a serif font and illustrate 2 different ways to present contact information.

The first example is similar to Eric Chao’s header in that we make the best use of the header space using just 2 lines of text. While the second example takes up a little more space, it draws the reader’s eye to the candidate’s name.

A couple things to note:

  • The resume header can be a great place to indicate your willingness to relocate for the right opportunity.
  • Both headers use shading (gray) and border (blue) techniques to create visual interest while maintaining ATS compatibility.

resume header

Including your full address

resume header

In this last example, we blended all of the previous resume header strategies from earlier. Only this time, we included Rosa’s full address on the third line since she was applying for a position at a local hospital in the Houston area.

Normally, I advise job seekers to leave out the full address for a few reasons: 

  • Your full physical address is sensitive information and with every passing year, identity theft cases continue to rise.
  • You open yourself to potential economic or demographic profiling. An employer could assume you live too far away from the company and remove you from consideration.
  • It’s nobody’s business. A full address on a resume is a holdover from the days when it was common to physically mail your resume. Nowadays, a phone number and an email address are all an employer needs to contact you.

At a minimum, your resume header should include your first and last name, contact phone, personal email address, and your LinkedIn profile URL. If you’re not on LinkedIn, create a free LinkedIn account after you finish reading this article!

Remember these 6 tips when developing your resume header:

  • Be mindful. Limit your contact information to a cell phone number and one email address. These are the best avenues to guarantee your privacy, escape distractions, and speak openly about your job search.
  • Be discrete. Never list your work number as your contact phone when looking for a job with a different employer, unless you’re looking to advance or move laterally within your current company.
  • Be attentive. When job hunting, expect to get a call any time. Set up a professional voicemail message and check it regularly. Don’t let your voicemail get full. Recruiters get frustrated if they try to reach you and can’t leave a message.
  • Be appropriate. Your email address is a key part of your professional brand. Choose one personal email, not shared with spouse or family, that is professional and easy to remember. I recommend using your first and last name (Ex: jonsnow@gmail.com).
  • Be hyperlinked. Link your contact details (email and LinkedIn profile) to make it easier for the recruiter to email you or view your LinkedIn profile.
  • BONUS TIP – Avoid headers and footers! While this feature is an effective way to use resume space, most ATS have trouble extracting information from headers and footers. Consequently, your resume can get lost in the shuffle, resulting in a wasted opportunity.

While optimizing your header may seem like a small thing, it’s often the smallest details that make the largest impact in setting yourself apart from your competition. Did you find these tips and guidelines helpful? Feel free to let me know which format you liked the best in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, check out the next one in our 6-part series of the STEM Resume Breakdown, Part 2 of 6 – How to Craft a Branded Headline & Supporting Statement.


 

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 some 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!

 

Kate

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