• Learn How to Build a Powerful Personal Brand That Will Differentiate You and Allow You To Compete in the Global Marketplace.
  • Personal Branding Toolkit – Part 3: Resumes

    If you’ve read my blog for at least a month, you’ll know that I despise resumes. They are important and the standard documents for recruitment, but they don’t do anyone justice. Colleges need to stop passing out standard templates because, let’s face it, students are more interested in partying than developing a resume to get a job. Even if their intent is great, the aftermath is thousands upon thousands of students with the same looking resume and similar experience. Well today it’s time to break resumes down and tell you how to use them for differentiation.

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    Your personal branding toolkit

    1) Business cards
    2) Portfolios
    3) Resumes
    4) Cover letters

    10 tips for effective resumes

    1) Design your brand. Instead of using a standard template, use a branded template. A brand you template! If you have Microsoft Word or another word processing program, then you might notice shapes and colors at the top. If you don’t already have a website, blog, business card, etc, then you need to think about what colors you want to use, as well as what type of job you’re applying for. In the picture below, a woman is applying to be a “Cosmetic Nurse Specialist.” At the top of her resume, she has a picture of someone putting cosmetics on a patient. The rest of the resume has shades of pink. The resume comes off as “soft” and “gentle,” with the colors, picture and shapes used. To me this is effective.

    Brand yourself with a resume

    2) Don’t use your picture. I agree with my friend Chris Russell that pictures can’t be on resumes (even though I’d love to put mine on it). A personal photo is a distraction. Recruiters give you about 30 seconds to impress them with your experience and you don’t want 10 of those seconds to be eyes on your picture do you! Don’t come off as someone who is trying to get a job because of your looks. Companies are scared to deal with your picture because of discrimination laws and lawsuits.

    3) Links rock. I haven’t seen many resumes with links EVEN from people that have blogs, social network profiles and other websites. It blows my mind! Why not have a link to your site. If the recruiter likes your resume or has further interest in your credentials, a link acts as a supplemental piece of marketing that will help you sell yourself without saying one word.

    4) Experience trumps education. Don’t believe for a second that your degree and “deans list” on your resume is going to get you a job. Recruiters are starting to discount GPA for resumes! Listen, a resume is all about showing recruiters that you have had proven success, eliminating risk on the companies part. In life, experience is everything and if you don’t have it, you will leave to lean towards your education. Make a point to put your work experience in the top part of your resume because that’s what employers really care about.

    5) Show some class. The quality of paper you use shows how serious you are about the position and can be used as a differentiator. Purchase quality paper and print your resume using it because more applicants use standard printer paper.

    6) Create the multimedia you. How much information can you really get from a stupid resume? Not much. I’ve written about video resumes a lot and believe in them, as long as you are passionate, energetic and have some showmanship. If you plan on videoing yourself sleeping or eating chocolate than you might want to reconsider.

    7) Get Linked-In. This is another topic I’ve touched on without a dedicated post. LinkedIn is a resume, cover letter and reference list all in one, which makes it exceptional. It is a virtual resume, with the same fields as a typical resume. It is a cover letter because you have space to explain where you’re at in your career, what you want to be and summarize your qualifications. It is a reference list because it’s searchable by recruiters and you can endorse others (managers, peers, etc).

    8 ) Grow it. A resume is useless if it shows the brand you from 1938. You need to constantly update it as you grow, finish projects, switch organizations, etc. Always keep it up-to-date so it represents the “present brand you.” Feel free to grow your resume online as well, by creating a webpage dedicated to it or blending it onto a blog. I’ve seen people add social media elements(Facebook, Digg, Flickr, etc) to resumes such as Christopher Penn and Bryan Person, who have sharing features. Think about it this way; if someone finds your resume and has heard of an opening at a different company, they might share it using a social media tool!

    9) Summarize it. If I were recruiting someone for a position I wouldn’t care about a resume. I’d ask for your blog, but for everyone else, I think a summary of your credentials is very very important. At the top of your resume, I’d like to see 3-4 sentences that showcases all your top achievements and your career objectives.

    10) Customization. Aside from customizing your resume to fit your brand, you need to tailor it to the position your gunning for. The resume below is for a Oracle Certified Professional. Think about it, if you are branded as this type of expert, won’t it be clear to recruiters immediately once they see this resume? Aside from this, you should use keywords and experiences that match the position you are trying to fill.

    Resume tailoring 101


    Dan Schawbel is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press) and the #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future (Kaplan Publishing), which combined have been translated into 15 languages.

    Posted in Career Development, Personal Branding, Podcasts, Success Strategies
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    10 comments on “Personal Branding Toolkit – Part 3: Resumes
    1. avatar
      Tiffany says:

      This an excellent post Dan! I couldn’t agree with you more about how bland resumes can be. Mine is so boring and its hard to look outside the box without thinking about how much information out there tells you otherwise.

      In one of my posts I describe how when I didn’t know how a resume and coverletter were supposed to look I was creative and open but now that I know so much about the “proper” way to do it, my creativity has left and my resume looks just like everyone else’s. So I completely understand your view when you say that it must be branded.

      Actually ever since you started these toolkit postings I became more confident in knowing that standing out is just as important as I thought.

    2. avatar

      I have heard to total opposite – that most employers will toss out the ‘pretty’ resumes before they even read them.

      i had mine done by a professional resume writer..she was an amazing help..and there was nothing about pretty paper or colours..it was all about marketing yourself..using the right words and descriptors to show your skill set.

    3. avatar


      You make some great points about the fact that resumes need to evolve from static one-dimensional documents to fluid three dimensional marketing tools and I agree with you that links on the resume and LinkedIn profiles are great market differentiators.

      Perhaps it’s not the resume you despise but rather the limitations of the traditional resume. Many Gen Y’ers and others are redefining the resume and better positioning themselves through the resume 2.0 movement.

      Regardless of the platform people chose, content is still king and strong accomplishment statements are more important than “eye candy” But it’s refreshing to see the world of resumes opening up to some new interpretations of the old standard.

    4. avatar


      not bad. I personally would like to see about a 90 second video–best case–and skim some text to see if I want the person. But that’s just me.


    5. avatar

      Those are great tips. The header on a resume makes it look like a website (which is a great marketing technique)!

    6. avatar

      Dan – You are right. Most resumes don’t do their owners justice. Usually, that is because most people don’t know how to write a great resume! The fact is, if you can make yourself look good without a lot of bells and whistles, you probably have something to offer. I agree with Barbara’s comment, “content is still king.”

      Using color and trying to make you resume stand out visually can make an impact, but it depends on the industry what that impact will be. You don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons.

      Linkedin and other online tools and blogs can be great additions to the resume as long as they serve to strengthen the applicant’s case for the position.

      Keep it up-to-date and targeted, highlight your skills and accomplishments, and your resume will work wonders!

    7. avatar
      Dan Schawbel says:

      @Miriam – always great advice from you. Your point goes back to my point on customization. You need to know your audience and the type of job you’re applying for to see if it’s a good fit.

    8. avatar
      Louisa says:

      I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while, and want to thank you for such a great post! I work as a recruiter for a Boston based staffing agency, Hollister Staffing (www.hollisterstaff.com)and think this advice is great. I see a lot of traditional resumes everyday, and love your idea of making your own personal brand to be more effective in your resume. All of your other tips are great as well! Thank you so much for sharing this!


    9. avatar

      I know that your article makes sense, but because of the livelihood of release I had to come here to spam, I hope you can forgive me. thank you. Expect you to write better articles..maybe…..

    10. avatar

      No one mails resumes anymore; I tried and didn’t get one response. How do you translate this information for the online world especially since 90% of companies are using AST programs to screen resume submissions?

    5 Pings/Trackbacks for "Personal Branding Toolkit – Part 3: Resumes"
    1. […] Dan Schawbel Personal Branding Toolkit: Resumes for Generation Y 08.26.08 Print This | Email This If you’ve read my blog for at least a month, you’ll know […]

    2. […] Branding Tool Kit: Part I Business Cards Personal Branding Tool Kit: Part II Portfolios Personal Branding Tool Kit: Part III Resumes Personal Branding Tool Kit: Part IV Cover […]

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