Otherwise known as a headline, the title of your CV is a short, snappy, one-line sentence that sums up your experience and skills. Located at the top of your CV under your name and your contact details (or directly under your name if you’re using a template), the title quickly allows recruiters to evaluate whether you’re the right person for the job. Located at the top of your CV under your name and your contact details (or directly under your name if you’re using a template), the title quickly allows recruiters to evaluate whether you’re the right person for the job. It’s an excellent way to briefly and concisely describe your professional identity, highlight your strengths, and showcase your value as a candidate.
What are the benefits of a title on your CV?
The main purpose of a title is to make a great first impression with recruiters and employers so that they want to keep reading the rest of your CV. A strong title can save your CV disappearing down a black hole in many ways:
1. Grab the recruiter’s attention
Many candidates point out the obvious and write the words ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’. However, unless your CV is in a completely unrecognisable format, this is a waste of valuable space.
Instead, you could make use of the most eye-catching section of your CV to sell yourself to recruiters. To really grab recruiters’ attention, make the title relevant to the job you’re applying for.
2. Make your CV more searchable
If you’re using job board like thousands of other candidates, you’ll want to make sure that your CV can be easily found by recruiters. In the same way that you search for something on Google using keywords, recruiters also search job boards for CVs that are optimised with specific keywords. A CV title which includes the relevant keywords increases the chances of your CV appearing higher in the search results.
3. Get your CV past the ATS
One of the first things an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) will do is to scan the title of your CV to find out whether you’re a match for the job or not.
Including the relevant keywords and information ensures that your CV will get past the ATS and into the hands of a recruiter.
4. Give your CV focus
If you have a lot of experience, a CV title allows you to narrow down your career history and focus on the skills and experience, relevant to the job application.
It’s an efficient way to let recruiters and employers know what you do without them having to connect the dots between your different jobs.
5. Highlight your skills and experience
Writing a CV with little or no work experience? A CV title lets recruiters know that you’ve got the right skills and why you’re a suitable candidate. You could highlight certifications or achievements to boost your value.
For example, you could write that you’re a ‘Detail-Oriented Administration Assistant with Advanced Level Excel Skills.’
Tips for writing a strong CV title
That one little line at the top of your CV can make all the difference. In the same way as as headline of a newspaper article, your CV title should create enough intrigue for recruiters so that they want to read the rest of your CV. But what makes a good title?
- Keep it short and sweet
Recruiters don’t have a lot of time to spend on your CV, so complicated or overly long sentences in your CV title won’t have the effect that you’re hoping for: making it onto the ‘yes’ pile.
Limit your CV to a brief phrase that encapsulates your value; anything longer and it defeats the point of a title. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to provide further details in the rest of your CV or in your cover letter.
- Include keywords in the title
The more relevant the title, the more it will stand out from the crowd. One way to get your CV noticed is to use keywords from the job description in your CV title. These will usually show up in the ‘Qualifications’ and ‘Responsibilities’ sections.
The more specific and focused your title is, the better the chance you’ll have at getting past the ATS filter.
- Write a new title for each job
In the same you’ll need to tailor your CV to each job application, you’ll also need to write a new title. This shows recruiters and employers that you’ve taken the time and care to help them understand your suitability for the role.
Read the job description carefully to identify the skills, experience and qualities required, and try to incorporate these into your title. If possible, include the job title as well.
- Be specific
Let your CV speak for itself and avoid words such as ‘hard-working’ and ‘responsible’. These are common attributes that can be applied to anyone and say nothing about your abilities or experience. Instead, be specific about your skills and quantify your skills or achievements, e.g. ‘Sales Associate Who Surpassed Targets by 40%’.
Quantifiable data can include: number of years of experience, amount of sales made in monetary terms, amount of products sold or number of people managed.
Even better if you can refer to professional qualifications or certifications, e.g. PMP-Certified Project Manager.
- Make it stand out
A catchy title only works if you place it strategically on your CV. The ideal position on your document for this is at the top of the first page. That way you can be sure that the recruiter will not miss your title.
You don’t want it to blend in with the rest of your CV. Consider using bold and a bigger font to make your CV title stand out. However, be sure to choose a font that is legible on different devices. While decorative fonts look nice on a desktop, they can be illegible on a mobile device.
Be sure to capitalise keywords to draw attention to your skills and experience. The tool Capitalise My Title can help you with this.
If you’re applying for a creative position, you may want to include an eye-catching image or have a banner in the background to highlight your creativity.
Examples of a good CV title
To get you started, here are a few titles that are attention-grabbing and highlight the suitability of the candidate:
1. German-Speaking Translator Skilled in Trados 2019
Why this works: Mentions specific expertise with specific tools.
2. Cordon-Bleu Chef with 10 Years’ Fine-Dining Experience
Why this works: Highlights distinction in the field and years of experience.
3. Chartered Marketing Specialist with a Focus on SEO and Lead Generation
Why this works: Mentions the highest accreditation in the field and areas of specialism.
4. PMP-Certified Project Manager, Managed £1M budgets
Why this works: The certification tells the employer that the candidate has the skills needed for the role. Quantifying your impact in monetary terms will impress employers.
A CV title is an effective way to stand out from the competition and get noticed by recruiters. With the above tips, you’ll be on your way to creating a title that takes your CV to the next round in the application process.