Most of us brand our skills when creating a resume.

We brand our skills because that’s what we were taught to do.

Up until 2007, employers searched for skills because there was a shortage of skilled candidates from the 1940’s until 2007 … So employers searched for skills.

Since employers searched for skills, we were taught to brand ourselves by our skills.

But today, there isn’t a shortage of skills … there’s a shortage of jobs. Combined with mass job competition and automated pre-screening, employers aren’t searching for skills today.

In reality, employers never really did search for skills. Skills are merely a proxy for solutions to problems and employers don’t want to publicly disclose problems to competitors, customers or shareholders. So instead of listing what they are really searching for, employers list skills in job descriptions, rather than problems.

When employers search for solutions and we brand ourselves by skills, we create an unnecessary mismatch. When we describe ourselves in ways that don’t reflect an employer’s real needs, we make it easy to be overlooked, even when you may truly be an exact match for the employer’s needs.

Here’s 3 ways we typically brand ourselves by skills:

  1. Creating First Impression Based On Title: When you create your reader’s first impression based on your title, you’re branding yourself as a commodity. If your first impression to your reader is that you’re an accountant or a VP Sales, you brand yourself as being the same as other accountants and VP Sales. When there were skills shortages, this was ok … but during job shortages, there are many accountants and VP Sales applying for the same job. Hiring managers are looking for the superior candidate, so the average candidates lose.
  2. Focusing On Job Description: When you focus your reader’s attention on job descriptions, you describe yourself on an average day. Since hiring managers are looking to hire the best candidate of the many that meet minimum requirements, describing yourself on an average day shows you at your average, rather than at your best – you undersell yourself.
  3. Focusing On Responsibilities: When you describe responsibilities, you also focus on the day to day functions of your job. For example, when you describe that you hired, managed and trained a staff of 12 employees, you describe yourself at your average, rather than at your best.

A more effective way to brand yourself in today’s job market is to brand yourself by the value you’ve provided to past employers.

Branding yourself by value is more than just listing accomplishments. Accomplishments don’t describe how important your contribution was to your employer – value does. Listing that you cut costs is an accomplishment, but it doesn’t describe if you saved your employer $1 dollar (not so impressive) or $1 Billion dollars (much more impressive). Value shows that your accomplishment was important to the employer.

Here’s 3 ways to brand yourself by value:

  1. Create First Impression Based On Subject Matter Expertise: When you include subject matter expertise in your resume title, you describe yourself as a superior candidate to the hiring manager – especially when you’ve done the upfront research necessary to list expertise that shows you’ve probably already solved similar problems matching the hiring manager’s needs. When you first learn the hiring manager’s priority issues, listing a subject matter expertise that solves these issues gives hiring managers the impression that you’re a mind reader.
  2. Describing Your Best Days Instead Of Your Average Day: Hiring managers expect that you’re presenting yourself at your best and comparing with other candidates who have presented themselves at their best. When you describe yourself on an average day, you’re automatically underselling yourself. Your resume is a marketing document, not a timesheet or personal diary.
  3. Monetizing Value: Metrics mean different things to different employers. Metrics can be calculated differently, used differently and called by different names. Some metrics may be important to one employer but irrelevant to other employers. However, at the heart of every hiring manager’s goals are increased revenue, decreased costs, increased profits. When you monetize your accomplishments, they become relevant to nearly every employer, regardless of metrics used to measure their business performance.

So now that you know how to brand yourself based on the value you’ve provided to past employers, why are you still focusing your readers on skills?