Personal Branding, Resume or Job Search Targeting: Which Comes First?

by Meg Guiseppi on March 17, 2014

Successful executive job search
It may seem obvious that the first thing to do, when you’re about to start an executive job search, is locate, dust off, and update your resume.

In my experience, many executive job seekers do just that. They dive headlong into their resumes first.

They often neglect targeting, and narrowing their search to several select companies, because they want to keep their options wide open.

And they often misunderstand the importance of personal branding, and dismiss it as unnecessary.

That strategy may have worked even a few years ago, but job search doesn’t work the same way now.

Today’s executive job seekers face a brand new world of job search, deeply impacted by the digital age and a highly competitive job market. If it’s been just a few years or so since you changed jobs, you’re now facing new challenges that didn’t exist before, and a much more complicated process.

If you’re not working from research you’ve done on the needs and challenges of a short list of target employers, you can’t possibly create a resume and other career marketing materials, that will contain the right keywords and other information to hit home with them.

And without knowing who you’re targeting and what makes you a good-fit for their current needs, you can’t build your personal brand around what differentiates your unique ROI over your competitors.

Here’s the linear path your job search preparation should take:

1. Targeting and Research

Make a list of, say, 10-15 companies that will be a mutual good-fit. Research each one’s current challenges and determine how you are uniquely qualified to help them overcome them.

2. Personal Branding

With an understand of your target companies’ corporate culture and what makes you a good fit for them, define your personal brand and ROI (return on investment), so you can differentiate your unique promise of value.

3. Resume Development

Build your resume content to position you as the best hiring choice for your target companies.

Show them the money using branded, metrics-driven accomplishment statements. Drive home your promise of value with tangible evidence of how you turned things around for past companies and solved their problems.

Success stories, told in a Challenge – Action – Results framework, help hiring decision makers picture you in the jobs they’re trying to fill.

If you don’t do the 3 things above, you’ll end up with generic personal marketing content – trying to cover too many bases and failing at differentiating your value. In all likelihood, you’ll be facing a protracted job search.

Knowing your target means you’ll know who you’re writing your resume (and LinkedIn profile, etc.) for, and what content will hit home with them . . . a much better approach than guessing at what needs to be in your resume and including every possible qualification, relevant or not.

Start with the 3 steps above, then you’re ready to:

  • Build your brand communications plan across various channels (online and off-line),
  • Network your way into your target companies,
  • Land the interviews you want, and
  • Land a great-fit new job.

Related posts:

7 Deadly Sins of Executive Resume Writing

10 Steps to an Authentic, Magnetic Personal Brand

7 Things Successful Executive Job Seekers Know

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