In last week’s column, we discussed what causes your resume to brand you as a commodity candidate – and also how to recognize if you’re using commodity branding.

This week, let’s discuss a solution …

Instead of branding yourself as a commodity, why not brand yourself as a superior candidate?

In today’s job market, satisfying minimum requirements won’t brand you as a superior candidate – you’ll look like a commodity to employers.

To give your readers the first impression that you’re a superior candidate, you’ll need to show your audience that you’re the unique solution to specific problems of your individual target employer.


Today’s employers realize that there’s a shortage of jobs, not a shortage of candidates. Employers see that they get an average of about 1,000 candidates for each advertised position. With that many applicants, there are many who meet minimum qualifications.

In addition, today’s employers are forced to be extremely picky about who they hire. We’re in a slow recovery – this means most hiring managers are being asked to “do more with less”. When productivity is driving corporate profits rather than sales, hiring managers are expected to produce higher results while hiring fewer people. To accomplish this, hiring managers must find new employees who need little or no training … because they already have experience in solving similar problems to what the department faces. In other words, they can hit the ground running, adding to the team’s results almost immediately.

As a candidate, your best bet is to show a hiring manager that you’ve already solved their problems. Not just any problems … the problems with the hiring manager’s highest priorities.

Given the above background, you should be able to see 4 ways to brand yourself as a superior candidate

  1. Superior Information: Gain superior information about the hiring manager’s problems. You’re not going to find this on Google searches, because a) Information from Google is publicly available, so how can it be superior information?; and b) Google provides old information, about the problems a company already solved … not the problems the hiring manager faces today and going forward. Superior information comes from the employees of a company and you can find that information by talking with them.
  2. Priorities: Not all problems are created equal. Some problems will get the hiring manager’s highest attention, while other problems aren’t all that important. By determining the hiring manager’s priorities, you can understand which problems are the most important to the hiring manager. In that way, you can choose the problems most important to the hiring manager – then frame your experience to show you’ve already solved similar problems.
  3. Superior Branding: By gaining superior information about a hiring manager’s problems and priorities, you can choose the problems that are the most important for that hiring manager to solve … and then demonstrate how you’ve already helped to solve similar problems.
  4. Focus: Of course, you’ll want to show you meet the minimum qualifications just to get through pre-screening. Recognizing the minimum requirements will be secondary, but necessary to get your resume in front of the hiring manager. Once the hiring manager gets your resume, you’ll want your resume to focus on how you’ve already solved similar problems to the hiring manager’s priorities. If instead, your resume is focused on minimum qualifications, you look like a commodity – one of the many candidates who meet the minimums. Instead, if you focus on having already solved that individual hiring manager’s priority problems, you brand yourself as the superior candidate … especially since so few of your competitors first gain superior information necessary to take a similar approach.

The choice is entirely in your hands and within your reach. You’ve got the power and now you have the information needed to make a cornerstone decision about your job search.

You won’t be able to apply for as many jobs if you take the time to brand yourself as a superior candidate for each job. Gaining superior information, understanding priorities and focusing your reader’s attention on your similar solutions takes time. Applying for many jobs as a commodity candidate doesn’t take a whole lot of time or effort.

Will you brand yourself like everyone else … like a commodity?

Or will you decide instead to stand out from the pack and do the necessary research to brand yourself as a superior candidate?

You’ll find that the focus needed to demonstrate you’re a superior candidate wins much more often.


Phil Rosenberg is President of, 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. An active blogger about social media, career advice and job search information, Phil’s articles have been published by The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, CNN, CBS, AOL, FastCompany, CIO, ZDnet, The Examiner, and leading job/career/recruiting publications and sites. Check out one of Phil’s complimentary job search webinars at .