Personal Branding Mistakes

As we discussed in my 7/16/12 column, your resume brands you, whether you like it or not. Don’t let it become one of your personal branding mistakes .

As recent eye mapping study so clearly showed us, resume readers make a decision within the first 4 – 6 seconds if your resume bears further review … or if seems like a miss and headed for the discard pile.

This is why resume personal branding is so important – it influences the first decision recruiters, HR reps, and hiring managers make about you.

So one would think that you would do a better job managing your resume’s personal brand that readers use to draw critical first impressions. I doubt candidates create poor personal branding on purpose … it’s just that no one ever taught you.

And what better place to teach you about your resume’s personal brand than the PersonalBrandingBlog?

Let’s start out by identifying some of the Personal Branding Mistakes that may be on your resume, eliminating you from job consideration even as you’re reading this article.

4 Common Personal Branding Mistakes:

  • Unclear exactly what job you’re applying for: We’ve been taught to write resume broadly. The logic used to be that by describing the job you want very broadly, you be consider for a broader variety of jobs. That was then, this is now.

Today, employers look for exact matches and find them with the help of Applicant Tracking Systems and human pre-screening. If you define the job you’re applying for broadly (ex: Marketing Professional), you make the hiring manager (and pre-screeners) guess … what job is this candidate applying for? If you can’t even clearly communicate the job you’re applying for, why would a hiring manager want to consider you when there are many other qualified candidates?

You look like a commodity:

You brand yourself as a commodity because you’ve been taught to brand yourself this way. From your first career training in college (thanks college placement office!), you’ve been trained to brand yourself as a commodity that looks equivalent to other candidates. Fast forward to today, when trying to follow advice to differentiate yourself … you don’t know how. Commodity branding has been repeatedly hammered into your head, over and over, so that it feels natural. Branding yourself as a superior candidate feels uncomfortable, because it goes against what you’ve been taught and what’s been reinforced though repetition. Superior branding is opposite many of the “tried and true” job search rules of thumb that are the basis of most job search methods. We’re not talking about brainwashing … it’s worse: this reinforcement is being given by people who mean well, but are still using methods that stopped working in 2007.

Branding conflicts:

Most resumes contain branding that conflicts with your goals and even conflicts with the branding support provided by the rest of your resume. Here’s how to tell if you have this problem: If you are being called by recruiters for the “wrong jobs” it happens because your brand and goals conflict. For example, an NYC programmer wrote me sharing frustrations that all he got called for were financial service IT jobs – But that’s exactly how his resume branded him.

Also, if you’re not being called for jobs that you feel you’re “clearly” well qualified for (if this has happened numerous times), there’s a good chance that your branding conflicts with supporting evidence in your resume or the hiring manager’s expectations.

You go on … and on … and on … :

Your personal brand forms the reader’s gut feel about you. To be effective, it should be extremely concise, so that the reader can immediately internalize your brand into their gut. Your personal brand is the first impression you want to manage, not selling statements including details about how you leap tall buildings in a single bound. Your reader can’t internalize paragraphs – they can’t even read a paragraph in the 4-6 seconds it takes your reader to form a first impression.

So look carefully at your resume …

What does it say about you in 4 – 6 seconds?

Do you brand yourself as a commodity? Or as the specific solution to the hiring manager’s priority problems?

Is your branding clear (to a stranger) in 4 – 6 seconds, or is it confusing, conflicting, with your branding message hidden somewhere within a paragraph of sales pitch?