Fall. It's my favorite time of the year. The crisp cool air, memories of going back to school, and the feeling of being extra-motivated for the year ahead. Now, I love going back to campus to recruit students. The only memories I do not cherish are the years I was also job or internship-searching in the fall - it's much easier being on the other side of the interviewing table!
In light of this time of year, today I want to start going through résumés step-by-step, starting with the header. Every piece of a résumé is important, and as the first thing the reader sees, your header must capture their attention and make them want to keep reading.
So, what should you include in the header?
Your full name.
Your mailing address.
Your email address.
Your phone number.
Sounds simple, right? It should be simple, but I've placed people in the "no" pile simply due to their header. Here is why...
An unprofessional email address. Be safe and use your name as your email address, with a gmail or yahoo - type account that will not expire after graduation. Never place your work email address on your résumé.
Formatting errors within their header. I've seen multiple fonts, center and left justification, and countless other formatting inconsistencies in headers. If something so simple has errors, I have no interest in reading the rest of the document.
An objective statement about "seeking a challenging position in finance" or "an internship that leverages my analytical skills". Objective statements are the worst uses of space on a résumé. If you are applying to jobs, what is your objective other than to gain employment in that field? What purpose does it serve to list it on your résumé? The objective statement is a present-day shortcut to the well-crafted cover letter, which is a must to set yourself apart in the job market.
Your header can be as simple as the following:
Easy, right? Let your accomplishments and the professionalism of your résumé differentiate you, not crazy fonts or unique formatting that requires the reader to search for information.
There are nuances to each part of a resume, even the header. I've included guidance on frequently asked questions.
Résumé Header FAQs
Where does the header belong?
I prefer to see a header center-justified at the top of the page, with the name on the top line and in a noticeably larger font than the rest of the information. This makes it easy to remember your name and tie it to your information.
What name should I use if I changed my last name (e.g. due to marriage, divorce, etc)?
Your name is a key piece of your brand. If you have legally changed last names and are using a different last name than what is commonly known, I recommend using your new last name, followed by née [former last name] all in parenthesis. "Née" means "formerly" in French and is common terminology to indicate a last name change. For me, this looks like: KaLeena S. Thomas (née Weaver)
If I am in college, should I use my college address or my home address?
It depends. From a simplicity standpoint, using one mailing address is easier for the reader to navigate and it keeps the top of your résumé from being too "busy". Companies use your mailing address infrequently, usually only to send you an "official" offer letter (most are emailed) and to set up new hire paperwork.
If you are applying to smaller companies in different areas of the country while in college, seeing a non-local address may deter them as they may not typically fly candidates in to interview. In this case, if your permanent address is a local address for that organization, use both your permanent and current address. This will indicate that you are familiar with the area, intend to move back after graduation, and available to travel (likely on your own dime) for an interview. If you want to move somewhere else specifically and can move immediately, it's oftentimes easier to move first and then find a local job. It frees you up to interview any time without a commute and solidifies your interest in and willingness to move for an opportunity.
Should I use my university email address?
No, unless you are positive your university will keep this email address "active" permanently and you want to manage this inbox into the future. Many universities will disable accounts a year after graduation, meaning those with your university email will get a bounce back rather than reaching you. Why risk missing out on an opportunity? Set up a free email using a configuration of your name (see example above) and route everything through this email.