Before I started designing personal brand identity for business executives, I interviewed an HR Director from a Fortune 500 company. I asked her, “What does a potential employee need to do to get your attention?” She said with a defeated sigh, “Anything interesting that will grab my attention.”
She showed me the stack of over 200 resumes on her desk for a Vice President position she was hiring for. She took the fifth, tenth, fifteenth, and twentieth resume out of the stack and placed them side by side. I was shocked to see that they looked identical. Expensive white or cream paper, Times Roman font, nicely organized sections divided with bold headings, and neatly arranged paragraphs of dry and boring accomplishments. Putting myself in her office at her desk looking at her applications made me realize we may have been doing top-level resumes wrong.
I asked her what she looks for in a resume and how she determines which resumes get reviewed. What she said changed everything. “I flip through the corners of the stack, anything that grabs my attention I pull out and place to my right. It might be a color, a font, a photo, an interesting quote, or a different texture of paper. It doesn’t matter at that point what I notice just that I noticed it. Then I give all the other cookie-cutter resumes to my assistant to review. If there is anyone worth looking at among the masses, she will find them.” She went on to explain that when she is hiring top-level positions or even entry-level positions that may lead to advancement, she is looking for someone who understands who they are and understands the company. A resume that gets noticed does both.
Using 30 years of strategic brand development expertise, I began developing a personal brand strategy process for business executives who want to get noticed. I found that the development process for personal identity was the same as the strategic brand strategy for organizations. And it works to get people seeking employment noticed. The personal brand identity process is simple but effective. Clients complete a personal brand strategy survey, I research the position, and the company they are applying to, and carefully review their work history. I then develop a brand strategy that includes a logo, font palette, color palette, and tagline just like I would for a corporate client. Once the brand development process is completed, we move on to the resume build. A resume that gets noticed contains these five elements.
Personal brand identity
A sound branded look that includes a logo and name mark that is unique, memorable, and impacting. This logo appears at the top of a cover letter and must capture the candidate’s personality, history, and style. The personal band identity gets them noticed, and then we move on to the content.
Strategic Custom Content
Personal information and a summary of goals and objectives that are custom-tailored to the position should be the first thing a potential employer sees. The top one-third of the resume should be a snapshot of the candidate. The goal is to introduce the employer to the entirety of who the candidate is to establish quickly if the candidate is a good fit.
A resume that gets noticed should be designed well, including elements like color, font, layout, white space, and visual interest. Using a professional design layout program like Adobe in-design can maximize the power of dynamic page layout. Consider developing a personal brand identity suite that utilizes your brand identity elements, including letterhead, business card, envelope, mailing label, PowerPoint slide deck, or video. Further branding elements such as 3-D promotional items can also enhance visibility.
A typo in the address may get you noticed, but for the wrong reason. Whether you are hiring a professional or creating a resume yourself, make sure you have a third party edit the content. Basic grammar and sentence structure are critical in an executive-level resume, especially if writing is an integral part of the job. Your work history and accomplishments should be presented logically, honestly, and carefully. Taking an entire career and summarizing it in two or three pages can be a difficult process and should be done diligently. Whether you are using streamlined bullet points or expanded editorial styles, professional copywriting, proofreading, and editing are critical to presenting a resume that gets you noticed.
If you are not a creative, strategic, or high-level executive candidate, don’t sell yourself as one. Personal brand identity on a resume to get you noticed should be an accurate depiction of who you are. If you are a mechanical engineer, your resume should reflect that. if you are a marble sculptor, your resume should clearly communicate that in a single glance. Don’t exaggerate or present yourself as someone you are not. The resume gets you noticed; the interview process gets you the job. The potential employer should feel like they already know you before you ever walk in the door. Your first interview should be a natural and comfortable extension of the resume that got you there.
A highly customized resume with a personal brand identity may not be for everyone, but if you are in a highly competitive market with unique skills and expertise, it may be the perfect way to submit a resume that gets you noticed.