Writing your resume to attract the attention your career deserves is a challenge. Not only is the content critical, but the formatting and strategy behind it can be almost as important.
One of the most effective resume writing techniques (that can escape your notice even if you rely on resume samples for insight) is changing resume section headings for greater impact.
An easy way to reinforce your message, descriptive headings give your reader a heads-up on the value of your experience, education, or achievements.
Best of all, custom resume section headings help reiterate the relevance of your background to an employer’s specific needs.
Classic headings, of course, are important for getting your resume past automated systems (see Making Your Resume Format Machine-Friendly for tips). However, you’ll also need to get hiring managers interested in your qualifications.
Use these ideas to jumpstart creative thinking for each section of your resume, with innovative changes that hammer home your promise of value:
Your Professional Experience.
There’s no law that requires your experience to be contained in a section called “Work History.” What about “Sales Achievements and Performance” or “Relevant Technical Leadership Roles?”
Why not try “Operations Management Career” if your focus is a new role in manufacturing production or within a call center?
This technique is especially effective if you’re trying to direct attention toward a specific part of your experience, helping to connect disparate parts of your career to the role you’re targeting.
Your Career Achievements.
Unfortunately, “Selected Career Highlights” has somehow become the standard for a first-page grouping of accomplishments on a resume. Here, however, is where you can quickly switch things up for added interest.
“Technology and Business Leadership” is a powerful heading for IT executives, including those at a Program Manager, IT Director, VP Technology, or CIO level. “Examples of Analytical Leadership” also works well for a candidate pursuing an insurance industry or operations role.
To create a unique heading for your achievements, wrap a keyword or desired result into the heading title, then add a focus on results. This sample resume for a CFO, which uses “Capital Administration, Strategic Planning, & Executive Leadership Highlights,” demonstrates an effective way to represent career high points.
Other heading examples include “Presales Revenue & Account Wins” for a technical sales engineer or “Scientific & Performance Benchmarks” to represent an R&D industry candidate.
Your Professional Education or Training.
Here is where things get interesting if you haven’t finished a degree. “University Education” or “College Studies” can be used if you’ve initiated post-secondary education, but haven’t earned the degree or certificate.
“Professional Development” also works well if you’re a sales candidate who has completed top-flight courses (think Anthony Robbins, Miller-Heiman, etc.) related to closing, consultative selling, and other successful techniques – even if you don’t hold a degree.
Even a mix of seemingly unrelated education can be grouped into “Specialized Training” or “Technology Concepts Studied,” providing a cohesive message about the relevance of your professional development activities.
In summary, rethink the classic “parts” of your resume, using customized section headings as part of your brand message.
Use a compelling set of resume headings tailored precisely to your goal, delivering a message of value that can attract the right kind of attention for your job search.