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You're sitting in front of a blank screen with the text cursor blinking at you incessantly. Your fingers hover above the keyboard but you have no idea how to start writing your CV. Your mind has gone completely blank and you have no clue where to begin.
Luckily, you've come to the right place. In the following guide, we'll look at one of the first things you need to do when writing a CV. That is, perfect your CV header. This section of the document is often the first thing that a hiring manager will see. With that in mind, you need to make sure that it gets the job done and is easy for them to read.
What is a CV header?
The CV header is the small section that's located at the top of the document. Think of it as a banner or a letterhead. It's where you tell the hiring manager who you are and also offer up some basic details, such as your contact information. While it may not be the most exciting part of any CV, it plays an important role. If you get this simple yet crucial section wrong, you could destroy your chances of landing your next interview.
This section has one goal and one goal alone. It's there to give the hiring manager the information that they need should they want to contact you. If the rest of your CV manages to wow them, they'll want to pick up the phone and schedule an interview with you. Ensure that your CV header gives them all of the details they need to get in touch with you, pronto.
What to include in a CV header
Now that we've covered what a CV header is, let's move things along. What should headings for CVs include exactly? We're glad you asked. There are certain components that all hiring managers expect to see when it comes to your CV header. Before you get started on writing this section, you're going to need to know what they are. Here's a quick rundown of each of the elements that you could include when you're writing your CV header.
Name (or nickname)
Let's start with the main event - your name. You should put your name right at the top of the page in clear text. Since applications aren't legal documents, you don't have to use your full legal name if you don't want to. Yes, you can include a (suitable for work) nickname in your CV header if that's what you prefer to be called. For example, if your name is “Rebecca” but you answer to “Becky,” feel free to use the latter instead. You should include both your first name (or nickname) and your surname in this section.
Bonus tip: Is there a doctor in the house? If you have higher education qualifications, you might want to add the appropriate postnominals to your name. For example, if you have a PhD, you might write “Becky Smith, PhD” in your CV header. Consider what value this move adds to your application before you do it. Is it likely to set you apart from the crowd of applicants?
Next to your name, or beneath it, you should include your job title. Now, this can be your most recent role or the position that you have most frequently held.
Of course, things can get tricky since different companies call similar roles by different names. For example, you may have held positions including “Talent Acquisition Manager,” “Well-Being Coordinator” and “Human Resources Manager.” In that case, you could use the catch-all term “HR Professional.” Consider which job title best fits your experience - and your target job - first.
Back in the day, you might have included your whole address in the CV header. However, times have changed. You may be uploading your CV to an online portal or sharing it with multiple people over the internet. For that reason, it's reasonable not to want to include your exact address. You can leave out your street name and number, in that case. That way, you can still give the hiring manager an idea of where you're based without being explicit.
Including your contact details on your CV is an absolute must. As we've already covered, if the hiring manager wants to contact you, you need to make it as simple as possible. That means placing your phone number front and centre. It's worth including the dialling code of your country (that's +44 for the United Kingdom) and omitting the first zero of the number. That way, if the hiring team isn't based in the UK, they can still reach you with ease.
When you've included your phone number, the next step is to add your email address. The number one rule here is to make sure that the address you use is professional. Including “Pinksparklesforever1974@mail.com” is certainly not the way to go. As a general rule, your email address should include your name and then your email provider. For example “firstname.lastname@example.org” or “email@example.com.” Keep things simple and formal.
The above elements are “must haves.” However, if you want to add a touch of pizazz to your CV header, you can include extra links. If you work in a creative field, for instance, you could slide in a link to your portfolio page or personal website. You may also choose to include a link to your LinkedIn profile in this section, so long as it's up to date and well-written.
What not to include in a CV header
Now that you know what you should include in your CV header, let's talk about potential pitfalls. There are some elements that candidates think they should include that they really shouldn't. Here are some of the key things that you don't need to put in your CV header.
Marital status, date of birth, or gender
When you first started applying for jobs, you may have been taught to include the above details. However, you don't need to do so. Not only is this information irrelevant to the role for which you're applying, but it could also breach anti-discrimination legislation.
“Confidential” or “Curriculum Vitae”
Some candidates include the words “confidential” or “curriculum vitae” at the top of their CV. You don't need to do this. First up, the hiring manager knows that this is your CV. Including “curriculum vitae” in your CV heading doesn't add anything to the document. Instead, it wastes the precious space that you have. Equally, marking your CV as “confidential” is redundant. You don't need to tell the reader that the information should be kept private.
Social media links
Unless you work in social media - or you're an influencer - you likely don't need to include these links in your CV heading. Adding a hyperlink to your Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok is unlikely to increase your chances of landing an interview. Leave them out.
CV header examples
By this point, you should have a relatively good idea of how your CV header will look. However, you may be looking for some inspiration to help you along the way. We've got just what you need. Let's take a look at some simple and effective CV header examples:
Jamelia Jones, PhD
Head Research Associate
+44 7918 000001
Stanley Smittons - Sales Advisor
London, N2 | +44 7891 111111 | firstname.lastname@example.org | LinkedIn
Betty Jenkins * Graphic Designer
Birmingham, B26 * +44 7666 111999 * email@example.com
Portfolio * Website
+44 7829 999111
Derek Bates, LLB
+44 7000 191919
As you can see, each of these CV header examples follow a similar structure. Exactly what you choose to include in this section will depend on the role and your own qualifications. Before you add in an extra element - such as a link - make sure it adds value to your CV.
Expert tips to help you create a CV header
You already have the inside scoop on how to create your CV header. However, before you start writing this part of your application there are some last-minute tips to keep in mind.
Make sure it's legible
Above all else, your CV header needs to be legible. That means that it should be easy for the hiring manager to read. Choose a font style that appears clearly on both digital formats and printed copies of your CV. You can use a couple of fonts here, should you wish to. For example, you might want to use a sans-serif font for your name and a serif font for your information. Whichever way you choose to go, ensure that the style is formal and consistent.
Use one (or two) colours
The same goes for the colours that you choose. Yes, you want your CV heading to catch the attention of the hiring manager. However, you don't want to go too wild here. If you're using colour in your CV header, stick to one core tone or possibly two complementary colours. Remember that your CV is a reflection of you as a professional. For that reason, you need to make sure that it hits all of the right notes without appearing too garish.
Don't capitalise all of the text
One of the biggest mistakes that applicants make when creating their CV header is capitalising all of the text. You don't need to do that. If you put your name and role in capital letters, it looks like the page is shouting at the reader. Of course, you should capitalise the first letter of each word here. However, steer clear of this old-hat approach to the header.
Vary the font size
Okay, so you want your name to stand out but you can't capitalise it. So, what can you do? The answer is that you can vary the font size. You may want to increase the size of your name, for example, so that it's larger than the rest of the text. This is a stylistic choice that can work extremely well. Think of your name as the headline. It has to be big and bold.
Proofread your CV header
When you've written your CV heading, there's one thing left to do. You guessed it - you need to proofread your content. Make sure that there are no spelling or numerical mistakes that will trip you up when it comes to finding a job. Overlooking these issues is always a problem.
Bonus tip: Print out your CV and use a pen to check for any mistakes. When you view things on a screen, it's all too easy to miss obvious errors. However, going through your application with a red marker - much like a teacher would - can be a real game-changer.
Write your winning CV now!
CV headers may not be the most enthralling part of your application, but that doesn't mean that you should overlook them. Use this guide to help you write a CV header that showcases your information in the most straightforward way. If you follow our tips and take inspiration from the CV header examples, you should be off to a winning start. Why not get writing now?
Now that you've perfected your CV header, make sure the rest of your application hits the mark. Take a look at our free CV review for all the insights you need. Our team of experts will give you a comprehensive review that you can use to upgrade your CV. If you're looking for a way to get ahead of the competition, look no further.