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Your Executive Resume Brand

by Kim on January 18, 2012

What are you selling and why should I buy? That’s the primary question that most employers, recruiters or hiring managers think about when reviewing a resume. If your resume does not answer those questions immediately, it likely won’t be read. Even with all the changes occurring in the job market over the years such as the use of personal websites, fancy web-resume  pages, e-portfolios and/or professional blogs,  it still comes down to that one traditional piece of paper – the resume.

Think back to your most recent days, weeks or months – how you’ve submitted numerous resumes a day yet have heard nothing. You know that your past performance has been great, and through no fault of your own, you were still downsized. You wonder when that next paycheck will arrive, so you put together your resume, or hire someone to do so. However, if your resume doesn’t differentiate you from, at the very least, hundreds of other candidates vying for the same position, you likely won’t even be considered.  Even with a very powerful and informative resume, the competition out there is so intense that it’s hard to get noticed much less the opportunity to portray your own unique brand and employment value.

The use of the internet for job searching has been both a blessing and a curse. You may be under the misconception that people apply to positions for which they are qualified. However, when desperation sinks in, job boards, career sites and company career links are inundated with candidates applying for every single job available, even if one isn’t qualified at all. They are desperate for work and that shows in their job search, and because of that, employers are finding it even more difficult to find that diamond in the rough.

Your need to rethink the purpose of today’s resume, the goal of which should be to sell a product – and that product is YOU. Recall all the advertisements you’ve see on television or in other media outlets and try to discern what makes you purchase one brand over another. There are several different brands of tissue, dish soap, hotdogs or any number of products. Why do you choose one over the other? Is it price, convenience, taste/feel, packaging, shape, size or product claims?

For an employer, it’s a bit more complicated. They have their own needs and many of those include looking for the “product” that can save money, increase revenue, expand market share, open new territories, enhance operations, automate functions, boost productivity and most importantly, improve their overall bottom line. If you cannot “show them the money” through your proven ability to contribute, you won’t be considered and will be waiting a very long time for that desired interview.

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, are spent on creating a product and associated brand image before effectively selling that product to make a profit. Without proper planning, the product won’t be marketed correctly; even if it makes it to production, it will likely fail against other products that benefited from more effective preparation, innovation and marketing. When a product becomes truly successful, it is primarily based on its demonstrated ability to produce the promised results (whether it does or not, sometimes doesn’t matter – it’s at least in the hands of the consumer).

The main “issue” I see in resumes today (other than typos, grammatical errors and an undesirable impression of hasty preparation) is the lack of focus on one’s achievements and/or the inability to promote a unique professional brand. If you’re a stellar salesperson, for example, someone who routinely produces strong results, the reader is still going to wonder what makes you different from hundreds of others with equally impressive achievements. Did you devise innovative marketing programs? Were you able to cultivate and maintain strong customer relationships with key decision makers? Are you able to breeze through the gatekeeper? Did you find creative methods of opening new territories previously thought to be impenetrable? Were you able to gain entry into a customer with a history of not taking on new products? And if so, how did you do it? Your resume needs to address these strengths, not just the numbers.

The same strategy should be employed for any industry. There needs to be several reasons that drives the reader to call YOU. They need to clearly see that you are the one to come in and solve their problems, turn results around and/or drive new opportunities. No matter what industry you are in, if you can’t prove that you have the ability to make measurable contributions, the reader will not be interested. If you don’t care enough to present the strongest image of yourself, why would an employer think you are deserving of their significant time and monetary investment required for an interview?

Yes, everyone is anxious to get back to work and/or find a more lucrative career. But without the proper planning, any job search can stall fast. You DO need the best resume possible, you do need to devote a big chunk of time to searching even though it’s frustrating, you do need to perform the (sometimes dreaded) networking, you do have to keep detailed records for follow up and you have to make sure that what you are offering is better than what everyone else is selling. And that is truly the bottom line.

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