by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., and Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Today’s resume establishes a brand relevant to targeted employers. The branding expressed in your resume should capture your career identity, authenticity, passion, essence, and image. With objective statements currently unpopular with hiring decision-makers, job-seekers and resume writers are turning to branding techniques, especially branding statements, to sharpen the focus of resumes. This article briefly discusses several methods of communicating your personal brand on your resume and focuses on creating a personal/career branding statement (often used in combination with a “headline”) for the top of your resume. We also offer numerous examples.
Branding is best defined as a promise of the value of the product… a promise that the product is better than all the competing products… a promise that must be delivered to be successful. Branding is the combination of tangible and intangible characteristics that make a brand unique. Branding is developing an image — with results to match.
In a resume, branding can be executed through at least three components:
- The distinctive appearance of your resume, which should be carried through with all your career-marketing communications — cover letter, business cards, thank-you letters, portfolio, and much more — to package you with a consistent, branded look. Every time an employer sees this look, he or she will instantly associate it with you.
- A message woven throughout your resume that remains consistent and does not contradict the image you want to project. Every word, every bullet point should support the branded message you intend to convey.
- A branding statement that defines who you are, your promise of value, and why you should be sought out. A branding statement is a punchy “ad-like” statement that tells immediately what you can bring to an employer. Your branding statement should sum up your value proposition, encapsulate your reputation, showcase what sets you apart from others, and describe the added value you bring to a situation. Think of it as a sales pitch. Consider integrating these elements into the brief synopsis that is your branding statement:
- What makes you different?
- What qualities or characteristics make you distinctive?
- What have you accomplished?
- What is your most noteworthy personal trait?
- What benefits (problems solved) do you offer?
Your branding statement will guide your subsequent branding activities and can be used, not only on your resume, but also on your Web site, blog, and other communication venues.
In their book Brand Yourself, David Andrusia and Rick Haskins present a simple formula for a branding statement: Skills + Personality/Passion + Market needs = Branding Statement. It’s a great formula, but not the only approach. A number of resources are available for helping you to compose a branding statement, also known as a brand positioning statement, including several at our Personal Branding & Career Self-Marketing Tools section. Especially see our Career Branding Tutorial beginning here and our article, Is “The Breakfast of Champions” in Your Resume?
Other resources include these books:
- William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson. Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand, $21.95. Hardcover: 224 pages. Wiley. (See our review of Career Distinction.)
- Andrusia, D. & Haskins, R. Brand Yourself: How to Create an Identity for a Brilliant Career. Paperback: 256 pages. Ballantine.
Final Thoughts and SamplesA “headline” atop your resume usually identifies the type of job you seek. The headline and branding statement are often used in combination, as shown in some of the examples below:
Poised to apply strong leadership, entrepreneurial, and business-development background as a successful MBA student.
TOP-PRODUCING SALES PROFESSIONALPositioned to draw on record of achievement and success to deliver exceptional sales results that maximize unequivocal strengths as outstanding, top-producing sales professional.
RECEPTIONISTPoised to contribute strong interpersonal, communications, and organizational skills and experience to your organization in a front-line, customer-support role.