Call it a slogan, a branding image, a tagline. When you hear or see an effective one, you know exactly what the product is and what it might do for you. Walk down the aisle of any food store and you’ll encounter hundreds of slogans like “Breakfast of Champions” that reach into your subconscious and press your “buy me” buttons. Don’t like breakfast cereal? Try cars. Think “Ultimate Driving Machine” instead. See what I mean? The best branding images help to sell billions of dollars of product every year. Why? Because they work by promising you a benefit for using their product.
So, what does this marketing lesson have to do with your resume?
Everything. Too often, candidates think job search is all about selling their specific skills. Skills are only commodities. They get you in the door, but they don’t win you the job. HR managers now receive 100 or more resumes per job posting. It’s easy to get lost in the resume shuffle with dozens of other candidates. They’re all competing for that same job, and they all have the same or better skills as you.
How can you stand out and get selected?
A great way to do that is to take a lesson from Madison Avenue, the masters of marketing, and develop a “slogan” of your own. Employers don’t buy skills. They want to know how you can be an asset to their bottom line, which boils down to only two areas in which you can provide a benefit:
- How will you help an employer make money?
- How will you help an employer save money?
When you answer this question, you set yourself apart from most of your competitors. The best way to accomplish this distinction is to develop your own “slogan.” Called a “Unique Selling Proposition,” this slogan is a short sentence that describes a major, unique benefit that you can offer your next employer. For example, if you’re a project manager you have a number of skills, such as software, hardware, and management expertise. Trouble is, most other project managers competing with you have the same skills. If you think further, though, you find your particular strength might be your ability to identify and solve problems early in your projects. So your USP goes something like this:
- “Seasoned project manager who excels at identifying and solving problems”
Now add one more item, and that’s the benefit to the employer. Since employers buy “making money” or “saving money,” try to find a way to attach dollars to it. This process is called monetizing your benefit, and it’s what will separate you from every other project manager you compete with. It may take some research or calculations, but it’s well worth the effort. Try to arrive at a conservative figure for how much money you helped your employer make or save on a given project, sale, or time period. In this case, our project manager calculated that he helped save his employer more than $3 million in a three-year period while he completed more than $12 million in projects. His USP thus becomes:
- “Seasoned project manager who excels at identifying and solving problems and has saved my employer more than $3 million while completing in excess of $12 million worth of projects during the past 3 years.”
By placing this one sentence front and center at the top of his resume, the job-seeker can make magic start to happen. No longer is this candidate a commodity. The employer can clearly see the benefit of having an employee who can bring his special talent to help save $3 million. [Editor’s note: Read more about Unique Selling Propositions.]
Final Thoughts on a Branded Resume
When you think of job search as marketing, see the employer as the purchaser looking through endless ads of candidates that all look alike. You can separate yourself as a special product with your own short “slogan,” or “Unique Selling Proposition” on your resume. This short sentence should identify:
- What you are,
- What your major benefit is, and
- How this benefit helps the employer make money or save money.
Put this all-important sentence on your resume and watch how your job search can change for the better. Your USP becomes your “Breakfast of Champions” slogan, instantly creating value and pushing the buy buttons of your next employer.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
As a recruiter, Joe Turner has spent the past 15 years finding and placing top candidates in some of the best jobs of their career. He makes it easy for anyone to find and land the job they really want all on their own in the shortest time possible. Discover more insider job-search secrets.
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