How to Match Your Personal Brand with Your Resume

Get your resume to the top of the pileJackson was really frustrated with his job search.  He knew something was off, but he couldn’t pinpoint it.

You might identify with how he assessed his pros and cons related to his job search situation:


  • Great past working relationships.
  • Interesting work history, thread is strategic partnerships and communications.
  • Extensive professional network, but hasn’t been nurtured in past few years.
  •  Unusual background which may be of interest to specific organizations.
  • Progressive work experience.
  • LinkedIn profile, at least.
  •  Haven’t exhausted options – just started a passive search.


  • Haven’t looked for work since first job out of college (not a recent graduate!)  Every job has come through as a referral or professional connection.
  • Haven’t been contacted about a job (through my network) in about four years.
  • Been in present job for more than eight years.
  • Pigeon-holed in current work because of job title and organization – job title doesn’t accurately convey the scope of work.
  • Not a great networker when looking for a job.
  • Not self-promotional.
  • Sent out five resumes, but did not get a single interview.

Can you relate?

When you’re not getting results with your resume, it’s usually one of two things:

One: you’re either applying for the wrong jobs;  or

Two: you’ve got the right skill set and matching experience, but your resume isn’t working for you.

We determined his target jobs were in line with his experience, so what could be going on with his resume?

My first impression of his resume was that there were too many resume-y words.  You know – the words you often see on resumes that are, in reality, empty words.  Words that often convey an opinion — “team builder,” “problem solver” and “quick learner.”  They’re “opinion words” because unless they’re tied to a specific example or tangible result, they’re just opinions.  I have found these “resume-y” words are often recycled from friends’ or colleagues’ resumes.

How to incorporate your personal brand

My advice is to use powerful and specific words that are about YOU.  We went through Jackson’s most recent performance evaluations and his LinkedIn recommendations to glean relevant words and phrases – those words that others used to describe him, in other words his brand.  They feel way more authentic and real than any “opinion words” would.

Address resume TMI

Then we addressed the “overwhelm” of his resume.  Too.  Much.  Information.  There was no easily discernible theme or thread to his experience.  The problem here is that the reader has to work  too hard to figure out what you’re all about

In all of his cool information, I couldn’t tell if he was a project manager, a communications specialist or a sales person.  How to incorporate your personal brand: Be a ruthless editor.  We removed 40% of the content from Jackson’s original resume.   Just details and information that weren’t relevant for his target positions.  Once we got rid of this clutter, his brand started to shine through.

Add the sparkle

But the main problem with his resume was that it felt like the past dozen other resumes I’ve recently read.  There just wasn’t any sparkle or juice to his resume.  (Important disclaimer here:  Your resume shouldn’t have sparkles on it. That’s NOT the sparkle I’m referring to.)

And if it makes me feel like nothing’s standing out immediately, you know any recruiter or hiring manager, who’s probably faced with weeding through a stack of resumes, won’t take the time to try and discern Jackson’s sparkle either.

So, we worked on really highlighting what was most unique about his background and the most valuable skills he brings to the table.  We did this with a carefully crafted professional summary (30,000 foot overview of his background) and selecting the most relevant content to support his theme – strategic partnerships and communications.

The personal brand is uncovered

Here’s a snippet from his professional summary:

“Strategic partnerships specialist with communications expertise in social service, non-profit and healthcare settings. Equally skilled at establishing and cultivating new relationships as well as enhancing existing partnerships.  Award-winning communications skills developing comprehensive strategies, including innovative social media campaigns.”

So you can see his personal brand – that is, what’s unique about Jackson – start to come through.

Your actionable steps

Here are the three things you need to get started on making your resume reflect your personal brand:

One: Don’t borrow opinion words.

Two:  Tighten up your resume content.

Three:  Create a good professional summary.

Join the Resume Makeover WebinarNeed a resume makeover?

Ready to make your resume really stand out in the pile and get noticed?

Join me for my live, free webinar “From Blah to Branded: Resume Makeovers.”

Friday, May 2, 2014

Get the details and sign up here.

Career Coach and ConsultantI’m Stacey Lane: Confidence Builder. Networking Smarts. Resume Wordsmith. Personal Branding Strategist. Career Coach. I help individuals with unique backgrounds find their perfect fit and effectively market themselves so they find work that is as interesting as they are.

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