Brand.com reviews the personal branding endeavors of individuals from across the country—and what the company has found is that everything you need to know about a person’s views on branding, you can discover simply from reading his or her resume.
“There are some individuals who realize that, through their resume, they can effectively communicate their message to potential employers—turning themselves into name brands, the true rock stars of their respective fields,” comments Brand.com president and COO, Michel Zammuto. “For others, though, a resume is less focused, less cohesive, and, in the end, less effective. It’s a list of experiences and skills, but there’s no underlying narrative—no real sense of who the person is, as a professional.”
The bottom line, Zammuto explains, is that branding is not just for businesses. “When people think of the Coca Cola brand, they associate it with consistently good flavors, with feelings of refreshment, and with fun times with family and friends,” Zammuto explains. “That’s all thanks to the company’s branding—but the question is, what kinds of things do people associate with you? What kinds of things to potential employers associate with you?”
The difference between a strong personal brand and no personal brand at all can often be something as simple as a few resume revisions, Zammuto says. In the paragraphs that follow, Brand.com reviews some of the most important strategies for personal branding, via resume.
Brand.com Reviews Branding Practices for Personal Resumes
As Brand.com reviews these strategies, it begins by noting that, in many cases, having a single resume is simply insufficient. “When you’re branding yourself, your goal is always to create a favorable association in the mind of your audience members—and in this case, your audience members are recruiters and hiring managers,” Zammuto explains. “So what kinds of associations do you want to make with these potential employers? This may vary from one company to the next.”
Indeed, Zammuto says that individuals are advised to research the companies to which they are applying, to get a good sense of the companies’ values, and to tailor their resumes accordingly.
Brand.com reviews another key strategy, which is for resume writers to pause and write down a list of their career success stories. “Your story is told through your accomplishments, and sometimes the best way to see the big-picture narrative is to actually write those achievements out and to see what the common threads are,” notes Zammuto.
Hopefully, this exercise yields a clear value proposition. “Your personal brand needs to convey what you can offer to an employer—whether that’s vision, innovation, sales success, authority, prestige, or whatever else,” Zammuto offers. “Map out your achievements as a way to figure out what your specific value proposition may be.”
When it comes time to actually writing a resume, Zammuto recommends that individuals skip right over the statement of objective, which has, for so long, been a staple of resumes. “For one thing, having a statement of objective is redundant, because in the end, all job applicants are going to have the same objective—namely, to get a job,” explains Zammuto. “More crucially, though, an objective statement undercuts your authority. Your personal branding needs to focus on the value you can deliver, but the objective statement distracts from that.”
Brand.com reviews further tips for personal branding via a resume—including Zammuto’s admonishment to “focus on the prime real estate.” He explains what he means: “Today’s recruiters and hiring managers are unlikely to have the kind of time they would need to thoroughly read every resume they receive, so there’s usually a lot of skimming that goes on,” he says. “You need to make sure that your personal branding information stands out to those who only give your resume a cursory glance.”
This does not mean that Zammuto endorses any kind of “gimmicks,” such as the use of strange fonts, colors, or images—but he does say it is important to “ensure that there are value-loaded and action-oriented words on the top third of your resume, easy for any skimmer to see.”
From there, Brand.com reviews some specific strategies for communicating value above the fold. These include: Leading off with a personal brand statement that includes some relevant keywords and clear communication of ROI, delivered to the targeted employer; a brief set of value-driven statements, set to bullet points; and, if possible, a powerful quote from a recent performance reviews.
Zammuto goes on to say that a personally-branded resume is not just about what content it contains, but also how that content is presented. “Brand.com reviews innumerable resumes, and I can say with certainty that readability is as important to a resume as anything else,” he says. “Densely-packed words with no clear breaks or bullet points will simply never win over a hiring manager.”
Zammuto also emphasizes brevity. “Even for a senior executive, there is no need to extend past two pages,” he says. “You should convey your brand as succinctly and as powerfully as possible.”
According to Zammuto, any error in a resume can ultimately undercut whatever professionalism and authority the individual is seeking to convey—and that includes typos. “This goes without saying, but spelling and grammar errors will get your resume thrown into the trash, and for good reason,” he affirms. “If you’re trying to brand yourself as someone who cares about excellence, you need to avoid these errors—period.”
Zammuto also encourages individuals to refrain from using what he calls “resume clichés.” Says Zammuto, “If you use the same words as everyone else, what does that say about your brand? It suggests that your brand is just like everyone else’s.” some specific terms to avoid include results-oriented, dynamic, dedicated, excellent communicator, team player, and track record of success.
Zammuto offers one final tip, and that is to avoid passive verbs. “A strong resume is one that’s oriented around action,” he notes. “Don’t say things like ‘responsible for,’ because it doesn’t really convey the action you took!”
Brand.com reviews the personal branding concerns of professionals from all fields, and all parts of the world.