Too often job seekers send out resumes without a focus or message that speaks to the reader. They include all of their jobs going back many years with an extensive list of job responsibilities.
What they fail to do is convey their unique personal brand or value proposition to a hiring manager that clearly demonstrates what it is they do best - even better than anyone else!
When you think about a product, what comes to mind? It is the look, feel, smell, performance, quality, or low cost? Whatever it is, that is what sets it apart from similar products. Not surprisingly, it is probably the one thing a company aggressively promotes about the product.
If a company is buying a candidate, that in turn makes the candidate the product and the hiring company the consumer. So, the same would be true when setting yourself apart from other job seekers in your field.
Why should a company choose you when they have ten other candidates with similar career paths?
If you know the answer to that question, then that is your personal brand! If not, then you need to find out what it is.
Here are some simple steps to get started:
STEP 1: Research Your Personal Brand
Conduct a marketing survey by asking your friends, family, and past co-workers what they think of you on a personal and professional level. You might be surprised at the responses, good and bad! For this exercise, we are going to focus on the positive.
STEP 2: Define Your Personal Brand
Here are a few general examples to help you translate the feedback to your personal brand (parenthesis):
Workaholic (hardworking, determined, ambitious, driven)
Always busy doing something (project oriented; multitask oriented; energetic).
Someone to turn to when advice is needed (good listener with consultative skills; problem solver).
Someone to count on in a pinch (reliable; team player).
Frugal; knows how to stretch the mighty dollar (budget conscious).
Handy around the house and in the yard (technically or mechanically inclined; good with tools).
STEP 3: Market Your Personal Brand
Okay, you are probably wondering what you are supposed to do with the information once you have it, and how you can apply it to your resume (your marketing tool) to brand youself.
In step 2, you were provided with general examples in various areas. If these responses revealed a common thread with the same qualities listed from nearly everyone you surveyed, you can start building your personal brand around that message.
Let suppose one of the areas most noted in your survey results indicated that you are "always busy doing something." That could possible translate to "project oriented." If you determine that the position you are seeking requires that skill set, then you can use it.
If this were the case, then you will need to think back to all of the positions you have held involving special projects that went beyond the daily routine, and list the project highlights.
Be sure to show how you managed all aspects of the projects. Do not just list the project type.
This way you can target a project-oriented position in almost any field. Armed with your valuable feedback and experience, you can show your interests and skills to convey you are either qualified or positioned to transition to that role.
For example, if you are seeking a construction site project manager position or an IT project management position, the focus of your personal brand message should start with the job title.
You should prominently display the job title in all caps such as PROJECT MANAGER followed by a great Career Profile followed by a keywords category to show the reader that you are indeed about project management.
Somewhere under Professional Experience, you should take it to the next level by emphasizing you projects under a Project Highlights section.
Keywords could include project management, team leadership, crew scheduling, budget control, inventory control, purchasing, equipment installation, systems integration, regulatory compliance, performance measurement, quality assurance, and so forth.
Using this branding technique will help you to connect with the reader. This exercise will also help you to decide what you really want to do and will prepare you for interviews.
We have used Project Manager to illustrate the process. However, the same steps apply to any field or occupation. Whatever it is that people express about you, you need to translate that to a work skill and identify what you have done in your work history that falls under that category if you are looking for a position in that line of work.
We all have many qualities and unique experiences. The mistake people make on their resumes is to either list too little or too much. Even worse, they do not focus on their key strengths and core competencies. If you fail to emphasize your key strengths and core competencies specific to the job you are targeting, you are failing to brand yourself effectively.
It is all in the packaging. Make sure you figure out what your brand message is and promote yourself around that concept so you can compete with the best of them and negotiate your buying price. Translation: top salary!