If you are one of those people who think that your resume should simply be a recitation of your job description in Times New Roman font, think again! That’s a thing of the past, and it’s time to get on board with a new way of looking at things.
Today’s resume needs to show what’s unique and special about you. How are you just a little bit different or better than all the other people whose background is similar to yours? This is an integral part of what’s meant by defining your personal brand.
First and foremost, remember that your resume is a marketing document. Its sole purpose is to get someone with hiring authority to pick up the phone or shoot you an email to initiate a conversation. To do that you need to convey what kind of professional you are and how you differentiate yourself from your peers.
You should do this with convincing content presented in a fabulous fashion.
Colorize your personal brand. Understand your own brand and its associated color. For example, personal development coach Pavlina Papalouka teaches that darker blues convey qualities like loyalty, honesty, responsibility and approachability, while turquoise conveys a sense of prestige, high ideals, attention and communication. Red, by contrast, makes you appear emotional, exciting, passionate, aggressive, provocative and memorable. A simple search on YouTube for “color and personal branding” will provide a whole host of videos that will help you determine your best branding color.
You can use your brand color on your resume for lines to separate sections of your resume, or as a background to your personal branding statement at the top of the document, just under your name and contact information. To go bold, try creating a one cell table and adjust the border and shading to have your branding color in the background. Extend the table the full width of your page, and then use text within it to denote your various resume sections like Skills, Professional Experience, Education and so forth.
[See: 25 Best Business Jobs for 2017.]
Provide a branding statement. This isn’t simply a list of skills or accomplishments, but rather a short three-to-five-line statement that tells who you are, your key qualities and areas in which you are particularly adept. It’s not about how you got to be who you are, nor what you did in previous roles. Rather, it answers the question: Who are you at this moment in time?
Convey your key accomplishments. To give a helicopter view of who you are, you might want to include a “Key Accomplishments” section in your resume, just under your branding statement. Keep it short and snappy, again with only three or four bullets. Remember, the operative word here is “key” — just the main few things that will make you a standout for the role you seek. This is also a sneaky way you can highlight something relevant that appears farther down on your timeline to make it relatable to your current target audience.
Make sure you are talking about the right accomplishments. That you earned a promotion, for example, is certainly an accomplishment. But that will show up lower in the resume as an employer views your professional experience section. Rather, think about what you did that was so great that earned you the promotion to begin with, and then you’ll get a good sense of your key accomplishments.
Limit your bullet points. Your resume will pack a punch if you limit yourself to just three or four bullet points for each position that you have held. They don’t need to be just a single line, and let each tell a story. What were you challenged to do? How did you go about doing it? What results did you attain? Tell the whole story, concisely! Be specific wherever possible to document dollars and percentages rather than saying something vague like, “Improved sales considerably.” Everyone’s definition of “considerably” will be very different.
Beware of betraying poor communication skills. Rare indeed is the job description for any professional role that doesn’t require “excellent communications skills.” But simply claiming to have them doesn’t really advance your cause. Rather, show off those skills with the vocabulary you use to depict your actions.
And when you are talking about communications, be sure to give examples. Have you spoken at company retreats? Written white papers? Are you known for your snappy memos or compelling PowerPoint decks?
Find and use descriptive action verbs to begin each bullet point. For example: “met with” is weak but “collaborated with” is strong. “Led” is often overused, but there are plenty of strong synonyms like: created, established, formulated, launched, pioneered or spearheaded that might better define and describe your actions.
When you take the time to step back and think about who you are and distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack, you’re sure to increase your chances of resume success!
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