Editor's Note: This post was originally published April 2018 and has recently been updated and revised for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Your resume is a crucial document, making a pivotal first impression on potential employers. They all include details about a job applicant's education, experience and skills, but making yours stand out in a crowded field could be a big step toward landing a great job. Think of the resume as a statement of your personal and professional brand, defining what makes you exceptional and an ideal fit for the position you want.
Personal branding is all about presenting yourself in the best possible light and showing potential employers what you have to offer. Treat your resume as a brief summary of your brand with a clear and direct message. By putting forth a consistent image of yourself, you may discover opportunities to keep building up that brand over the course of a successful career.
Today, many resumes include branding statements. These are succinct introductions to your professional identity that appear between your contact information and work experience. The branding statement should be 15 words or fewer, boiling down precisely what you want a hiring manager to take away from examining your resume.
Develop a strong message by thinking about your most impressive accomplishments and in-demand skills. Include a few powerful adjectives that convey your greatest strengths. Customize your statement to suit each job that you apply for, taking into account an organization's industry, objectives and culture.
The appearance of your resume makes a big difference in how effectively you capture the reader's interest and get across your central message. Strive to make this document eye-catching and intriguing, but also easy to skim through. You don't want hiring managers to have any difficulty assessing your level of education or major skills.
By maintaining a consistent look across all your documents, you build up a sense of your identity. Match up fonts, colors and textures between your:
- Cover letter
- Personal website
- Business cards
- Any other professional materials
With a specific set of visual identifiers, your personal brand becomes more distinctive and memorable, sticking out among the other people applying for the same role.
Promote Your Accomplishments
When you list your past positions, you give short explanations of the duties you fulfilled and skills you used. However, you have to go further if you want to present a strong brand, showing how you've taken initiative and exhibited qualities like leadership, critical thinking and problem-solving. Concentrate on examples from your background where you spearheaded a new initiative or worked on an innovative project.
Even small changes to how you handled particular operations or workflows can help to enhance your brand. Highlight the experiences from your past that provide evidence to support the identity you present in the branding statement. Be sure to choose vivid, active verbs when laying out how you helped to increase efficiency in a department's processes, achieved a vital benchmark for performance or made your workplace a more hospitable and productive space.
Focus on Continuing Professional Development
One of the most effective ways to make your brand more appealing is through education and an array of up-to-date certifications. By continuing to learn more about the technology and strategies in your area of expertise, you show that you are truly engaged in the latest developments and thinking about how you can apply your skills to new challenges.
Expanding on your leadership skills is another important area for making your professional brand stand out. You lay the groundwork for advancing in your career when your resume shows potential employers you are committed to becoming a more effective organizer and persuasive speaker. Taking classes in relevant professional areas adds new dimensions to your identity and could encourage hiring managers to find out more.
New Horizons Career Development Solutions offer a wide variety of classes that help professionals to take their skills to the next level and create professional brands that grab the attention of employers. In courses from the Center for Leadership and Professional Development, students learn to put their best foot forward from when they submit an application, through landing the job and taking on a management position.