How to Brand Yourself and Build a Stronger Resume

By Heather Yun Colemannorthforcetarget

Whether it’s your first time writing a resume or it is that time to update it, resume writing can be a daunting task, especially in this market.

Before tackling this task, ask yourself “What are you selling and whom are you selling to.”

You may say, “I know what I’m selling. Me! That’s easy.” But honestly this may be one of the most challenging parts of your resume. If you are like me, having had a variety of roles in a slew of different industries from sales to copy writing, you may be in a quandary of defining “who you are.”

This is where targeting will help you define your personal brand for your resume.

  • Decide what type of position you are seeking, research the industry,
  • Find out what the challenges are
  • Read thoroughly the job descriptions to identify keywords you’ll need in your resume.

By now you’ve got an idea of what the companies are looking for and what their needs and challenges are. With that information in hand it’s time to align your resume to reflect your strengths and qualifications for the position.

Let’s use as an example: You are applying for Administrative Assistant- qualifications: answering phones, light bookkeeping, Microsoft Word, and filing; however, your resume currently reads as retail sales, grocery clerk, and YMCA Youth Coordinator. At first glance, it would be easy to
say this resume and this position is not a match.  Decision makers spend 10-15 seconds or less to scan a resume according to industry experts, which means they won’t have the time to read deep into your job duties to see if you are qualified. That’s your job, to brand yourself as an Administrative Assistant, which means diving deep into your responsibilities and accomplishments and highlighting those that reflect that role.

Aligning your resume means strategically using the real estate of the first few lines of your previous positions to focus on your accomplishments that fulfill the qualification of the job. In the example above, it would be awfully tempting to list all of the top sales awards you’ve received while you were in retail and easily neglect to note how the majority of the job was answering calls and follow-ups with customers. However, by doing this you are neither helping yourself nor the hiring manager. The hiring manager is look for key qualifications for an Administrative Assistant and you should be tailoring your resume to show how you have those skills.

Additionally, rather than listing your job duties, explain your accomplishments. As a cashier instead of writing that you rung people up, bagged groceries, provided change, etc., describe where you were given more responsibility, mirroring the qualification listed in the job description. It could possibly be something like you were given the responsibility of logging weekly transactions in the bookkeeping software due to your accurate and meticulous management of your till. When you go above and beyond your regular job duties, that shows that you have experience in the required qualifications, as well. While working as a Youth Coordinator, you set up monthly meetings, created documents in Microsoft Word, and made reports and files on each of the kids for their parents. By focusing on projects and responsibilities you have had that resonate with the job qualifications, you are branding yourself as an Administrative Assistant or whichever position you are seeking.

Targeting, branding, and aligning your resume is critical in the competitive job market and crucial if the titles of your previous positions do not accurately correspond to your accomplishments. Creating a tailored resume comes only second to a tailored cover letter and we will cover that in the next entry.


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