If you’re searching for a job, your resume is your personal brand, like it or not.

I’ve talked to candidates who have refused to brand themselves – They felt branding was for products, not people.

While I can appreciate that candidates don’t like the idea of marketing themselves like a cheeseburger or insurance policy, you brand yourself even if you don’t try to brand yourself.

… Let me repeat, You brand yourself even if you don’t try to brand yourself

So whether you try to or not, whether you like it or not, even if you refuse to brand yourself, you still brand yourself. You can’t help it.

While social media can certainly influence your personal brand, if you’re a job seeker, the way most job seekers use social media, it’s usually social proof of the brand on your resume. Or worst case, the way a few unfortunate candidates use social media, it conflicts with your resume’s personal branding … causing job search frustration.

Here are 3 reasons your resume brands you, whether you manage your personal brand or not

  1. Your resume creates your first impression: If you’re a job seeker, your resume creates your first impression. Even if a recruiter/employer finds you by searching social media, what they really want to see is your resume – that’s what forms their first impression. Social media profiles don’t get searched by applicant tracking systems and aren’t the first thing hiring managers read … but your resume is.
  2. First 4 – 6 seconds: TheLadders.com published recent research based on heat map studies on resumes, to show where human eyes land and where readers spend their time while reading your resume. This study demonstrated that in the first 4 -6 seconds, the average resume reader makes a snap decision whether to continue reading, or if your resume is an immediate discard. Your reader makes an immediate decision based on how you’ve branded yourself – not based on your experience, your skills, or what a wonderful person you are.
  3. First 15 Seconds: It’s common knowledge among recruiters and HR people that the average time spent on your resume to decide if you get an interview, or the reject pile, is 15 seconds. 15 seconds isn’t enough time to read your whole resume. 15 seconds is enough time to skim the one document on your readers’ screen – not the whole document, just the portion on their screen. How closely you brand yourself to what your readers are individually looking for determines if they’ll press page down, spending more than 15 seconds and reading more than just the top half of your first page.

This is the entire goal of your resume’s reflection of your personal brand … to entice the reader to spend more time on your resume, rather than discarding it. Guess what – The more time a reader spends on your resume, the greater your chances of landing an interview.

This may not seem fair to job seekers – you’re understandably proud of the details of your work experience.

It ‘s not fair … but it’s reality.

Your readers make gut feel decisions about who they’ll interview, versus which resumes are dumped. These decisions aren’t based on who’s the best candidate (because recruiters and HR aren’t looking for the best candidates – they’re looking for candidates that meet minimum qualifications).

Your audience makes a snap decision on your qualifications, spending about 1/4 of the time on your resume than brushing their teeth.

The real question is … how will you respond to your audience’s snap decision process?

Will you take a closer look at the first impression your resume makes … your personal brand?

Will you customize your personal branding to meet individual needs of each unique opportunity and reader?

Or do you think the same ‘ol branding you’ve been using on your resume is good enough?


Phil Rosenberg is President of reCareered.com, a leading job search information website and career coaching service. Phil also runs the Career Central group, one of Linkedin’s largest groups for job seekers and has built one of the 20 largest personal networks on Linkedin globally. Check out one of Phil’s complimentary job search webinars at http://ResumeWebinar.com .