Typically, when job seekers embark upon their job search, they’ll focus on the resume. A logical first step, right? Not really.

It is true that you do need a resume for networking and applying to jobs. But a truly powerful and effective job search is a by-product of understanding how to successfully market and promote yourself. It all comes down to knowing your personal brand – that should be step number one.

Very few people enjoy the job search process – the chore of creating a resume, the need to be an aggressive networker or the anxiety of an interview. Like sitting through a tedious and boring presentation, you just want it to be done. Taking the time to refine your brand won’t take all the pain out of the job search process. But it will help things flow much more naturally. Because you will have a strategy and a consistent, strong message to deliver. That focus and direction will help you to take control of your search and differentiate yourself from your competition – the people who are just scrambling to format their resumes.

So how can personal branding lead to success in your job search? Let’s take a look:

The resume – defining your brand: A resume must be far more than a document with education, jobs and responsibilities. You must deliver a clear message. Who are you? What are your skills and strengths and how are they relevant to the job? Do your research. Look at job descriptions of positions that interest you. Incorporate key words they use to describe yourself, highlight your superior capabilities and make it easier for a potential employer to choose you over other candidates. Make sure the tone and voice of the resume is consistent with how you communicate in person and across your various social media profiles.

Social media – promoting your brand: Any social medial platforms you use should reinforce the messages delivered in your resume. They must be complete, accurate and showcase your comfort with utilizing social media as a marketing tool. Any headshots should be consistent across all platforms and the name you use on your resume should be identical as well (for example, not “Robert” in one place and “Bob” in another).

Networking –connecting your brand to others: Since you have defined your brand along with your relevant skills, networking should be more seamless. When you get introductions or contact people in your network, it should be easier to describe what you want to do and why you are qualified. When seeking introductions, your brand should make it easier for people to understand your goals and qualifications. It will also make it easier for them to tell others about you in a more clear and accurate way.

The interview – communicating the value of your brand: This is the time to communicate verbally and visually who you are – it is your brand. With your resume as the script for the meeting, you should be able to speak about those experiences that are relevant to the role and that demonstrate your strengths and accomplishments. Remember that appearance is an important component of the process and you should dress in a way that reinforces your confidence, professionalism and executive demeanor.

By defining yourself as a brand before you start the job search process, you will end up with a clearer, more consistent, more cohesive approach to the entire process. You will have more clarity on who you are and will be more capable of communicating in a way that will make you stand out as a competitive candidate.

Guest Author:

Lesley Mitler is president and founder of Priority Candidates, which prepares college students and recent graduates nationwide to get hired for their first jobs. An alumnus of Duke University who is based in New York City, Lesley has been quoted in USA Today, The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, Smart Money and dozens of other publications.