Your resume communicates a personal brand in a snap.

That’s the entire purpose of your resume’s personal brand – to communicate a gut-feel first impression that you’re qualified and that you’re a superior candidate.

When your resume gets to a human being, it has to pass two quick snap-judgment tests:

  1. The 6 Second Test: Are you qualified?
  2. The 15 Second Test: Should I interview you (or recommend you for interview)?

Here’s what most candidates use to try and pass these tests:

  • An Objective Statement: Describing for the reader, “Here’s what I want
  • A Summary Section: 1-3 paragraphs that tell the reader everything about what you’re proud of in your career, that you think should interest the average hiring manager for the average job.
  • Selected Accomplishments: More about what you’re proud of, written for the average hiring manager for the average job.
  • Key Skills: A listing of skills that you guess the average hiring manager is searching for.

There are numerous problems with these approaches, that lead to a confusing, conflicting and commodity personal brand.

But let’s focus on just one of the problems – brevity.

Resume personal branding boils down to 2 basic problems:

  1. You don’t know what that individual employer really wants: If you don’t know what that hiring manager wants, you’re left with one of two choices, both equally bad: Throw everything against the wall, hoping that something sticks … or guess.
  2. You try to do too much: When you don’t know what a specific employer needs, you try to include every reason you might be qualified for any employer. Your readers don’t have time to pick through all of these in 6 seconds, so you can’t manage the first impression you make. When you try to list all the reasons that you’re a great candidate, employers can’t easily see what’s really important … to them. Plus, when you try to appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to no one.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You have the ability to craft a resume that speaks to individual hiring managers. branding yourself as the solution to their individual priority issues. You won’t get there by guessing or hurling masses of statements.

You’ll get there by talking to people inside the employer, to gain an real understanding of what the hiring manager’s real problems and priorities are.

As a candidate, you’ve got just 6 seconds to give your reader the first impression that you’re qualified and just 15 seconds to give your reader the impression that they need to meet with you. In 6 seconds, there’s no way your reader can make a determination of your qualifications any other way than gut feel. In 15 seconds, the most they can do is a quick scan.

So you’ve got to be concise. How will you be able to manage your reader’s 6-second first impression by dumping paragraphs of information on them?

… by expressing your personal brand in a single line.

To create a first impression in 6 seconds, take a laser focus so your reader can gain a first impression in an instant that you’re qualified. Your personal branding statement is best expressed in a single line, as the title of your resume. Personal branding in a single line allows your readers to immediately internalize your brand in their gut.

Once you gain an understanding of what’s important to that specific hiring manager, creating a concise, focused personal brand is much easier, because you no longer have to guess.

Since you know what the hiring manager needs, give it to him/her … clearly and easily seen in a single line. You won’t hide what’s important to your hiring manager within all the other guesses of what they might need … because you’ve first found out what the hiring manager actually needs.

Because after you’ve learned the hiring manager’s true needs and priorities, you can show you’re a superior candidate that has already solved problems similar to the hiring manager’s needs in a single, crystal clear, consistent, and concise line, reaching the gut of your reader.

Which way do you think your resume will pass the 6 second and 15 second test? By guessing? By throwing anything you think might interest your reader?

… or by laser focusing your personal brand on your specific reader’s needs?