Build Your Brand Before Your Resumé

federal job resume workshop

In order to stand out in a sea of resumés hitting the hiring manager’s desk, today’s job applicant needs to take ownership of the value they are promoting before focusing on the words on the resumé. In transitioning from service to civilian, veterans would benefit from spending more time on their goals, value proposition and “personal brand” before sending out resumés to potential employers.

Everyone has a personal brand – no matter how old you are – and others in your network are assigning you value based on what they believe your brand to be.

Whether you are fresh out of military service or your transition has been ongoing for some time, the idea of creating a personal brand that sets you apart from competitors and promotes your value in the marketplace can seem overwhelming.

Here are some tips to building a meaningful personal brand and landing that dream job:

  1. Focus on what makes you unique. What do you do well?
    Do you have good people skills? Are you outgoing and friendly? Or, is research and analysis your strong suit? Articulate what you believe you are good at, and be as specific as possible. Try to avoid the common words and descriptors – strive to highlight your uniqueness.
  2. Think about what you are passionate about.
    Do you love to work outside and the thought of a desk job repulses you? Are you a people-person or would you rather work by yourself? What are your passions – Sports? Government? Research? Technology? Social Media? Use your passions to guide you into the job world. Start making lists of your passions. Then form them into groups so you can see patterns emerge.
  3. Leverage the job/work experience you do have.
    Translate your military experience into descriptors a civilian hiring manager will understand. Be careful about too much jargon and technical language in describing your military experience. Also, while you may have limited civilian work experience, think about the roles and responsibilities you have earned. Have you done volunteer work or an internship for a non-military entity? Have you participated on a committee or club in college? Inventory those skills, talents and responsibilities you held and speak to them just like you would if they were a paid job.
  4. Create an intentional network.
    Leverage your network to land a job. Write down the names of people you have worked closely with, while active or after you transitioned. Stay in touch with your network and let them know the kinds of jobs you are pursuing.
  5. Clean up your online presence
    If your social media activity got a bit out of hand (or unfiltered) during your service, now is the time to clean it up. Delete online posts and photos that a potential employer might not find appealing. Start posting and commenting on blogs, articles and in groups that reflect your interests and career passions, and start building your online brand today.
  6. Use social media to your advantage
    Social media offers many tools for the job seeker. Research companies you’d like to work for and learn about the industries you’re attracted to.  In addition, research the hiring managers ahead of the interview so you can build rapport when you meet them. Research online is plentiful and available. Use it.
  7. Learn from others
    Those friends of yours who are getting jobs can be a great resource to you. Ask them: What did they do to stand apart? How did they network into the position? Learn from your friends and from people who are currently in jobs you desire. What does it take to be successful in that job/industry/field?
  8. Become mindful and intentional
    Become your own marketing agent. Start observing everything you do – from your image to your spelling to your social media activity. If you were a hiring manager at your dream job, would you hire you? Make sure you are always intentional about how you represent your personal brand and image.
  9. Develop your image
    Depending on the industry you are pursuing, create a style and image that works for you. Always strive for appropriate (the days of wearing cut off jeans to an office are gone). That said, if you feel more confident in bright colors or you prefer more tailored clothing, seek consistency in an image that creates the impression of what you like and value.
  10. Talk to your parents
    Your parents have been young people seeking to make their mark in the world – intentionally or not. Many of them started in the civilian sector and can be a great resource as you navigate the complexities of employment outside the military. Talk to your parents or older audiences about what they did and how it worked, and learn what might be relevant and helpful in your search.

Today’s military veteran has a tough road ahead. Jobs are scarce and competition is fierce. The greatest advantage you can have is to own and live a unique personal brand that defines your value and relevancy in the marketplace. This ensures you are in control of who you are and can actually attract those key opportunities towards you.

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About

Lida Citroën, a branding expert based in Denver, has made a career of helping people and companies create new or enhanced identities. She is donating her time, expertise and effort to help returning war veterans learn how to compete in a civilian, particularly corporate, career. Lida works closely with Philadelphia-based, Wall Street Warfighters Foundation, is a volunteer member of ESGR, and has produced numerous programs and materials to help military veterans with reputation management after service. If you have a transition question Lida can help answer, email her at lida@lida360.com.

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