Branding - How To Make a Good First Impression and Set Yourself Apart as a Job Applicant

Would you like to earn more money? Secure better benefits? Get a better work /life balance? Get out from under your micromanaging boss? Need to find a new job? Maybe you’ve been recently laid off and desperately need to find a new job! There are some things you need to think about before you submit your next resume and job application..

As a hiring manager with over 30 years of experience, I have reviewed a lot of resumes for a number of different job titles. I continue to receive resumes that amaze me, and not in a good way! For a recent job posting, that has now been posted about 10 days, I have had 90 job applicants - for one position! That means I have had to do a quick scan of each applicant’s resume to pick out key skills and qualities. I have found certain, shall we say, irritations for lack of a better way of saying it, that cause me to move a resume to the bottom of the pile or even to the NO pile. Because with that many applicants, I am looking for the cream of the crop!

How to make a good first impression and avoid the Do Not Consider pile :

1) Your resume should be clean, clear, and easy to read. Use standard fonts, avoid calligraphy or other script fonts. Be sure to include your contact information - phone number and email address.

2) Since you likely will be submitting your resume electronically, save it as a pdf so there won’t be any issues opening it and any tables or formatting you have used will be preserved as you intended.

3) When you save your resume, name the file with your name, such as John Brown Resume.pdf. Please, please, please - don’t submit your resume with the file name - My Resume, or Final Draft, or Clinical Resume, or Latest Resume, etc. As a manager, if I need to save your resume into a folder with other applicants or share with others for review, to be able to identify yours from 15 other files, I have to rename your file with your name, which I will probably have to write your name down before I go to save as or rename feature. That takes up my valuable time and causes me to wonder why you couldn’t think of this on your own.

4) If you are going to include a photo of yourself on your resume, be sure to use a good quality image. I really don’t have an opinion about whether this is something you should or should not do and it probably is more industry specific, but I can tell you I am seeing it on some. And don’t snap a quick selfie and paste it on your resume; or on Linked In for that matter. At a minimum, get someone else to take your picture at eye level, with you smiling and looking bright and intelligent, looking straight at the camera with a clean background. I don’t want to have to look up your nose or see you in a bar or at a party. If you are applying for a professional job, think about the kind of impression you want to make! As the saying goes - A picture is worth a thousand words!

5) Linked In - If you are on Linked In, and you should be, you need to include a good picture of yourself, and ideally a professional headshot image. Many hiring managers will research the Internet for additional information about candidates and Linked In is a good place to start. The information there should match what is on your resume and all should be professional.

6) Proof read your resume - at least a couple of times. Run it through spell check. Read it backwards. That is a proof readers trick to catch typos because when you read it normally, you know what it is supposed to say and your eyes skip right over some of the words. Have someone else read it. I can’t believe the typos that people have in their resumes. That is a real pet peeve of mine!

7) Read the job qualifications and duties and only apply if you really qualify for the job. Please don’t waste my time if you have no relevant experience or don’t meet the stated minimum requirements.

8) Cover letters are great - if they are current and are written specifically for the job for which you are applying. When I read a cover letter that is written for a different job, especially if the job title is really different from my job posting, that tells me you can’t even take the time to do this one important thing correctly.

9) Lastly and most important - BE HONEST! Please don’t embellish your accomplishments or past responsibilities. It will eventually come out and then you are toast. I will either find it out when I interview you or, when I call to verify information. If I am not able to verify it and I trust your word and then I hire you and you don’t have the skill set to fulfill my job despite you leading me to believe that you did, that is not going to be a happy outcome for either of us.

10) One last thing - create an email account with your name to use for professional business- i.e. Avoid emails such as etc. save that for personal use. You want to avoid a naming convention that may unintentionally bias someone against you.

Remember, You are Your Brand!

How you present yourself and how others see you is your Brand. If your resume is your first presentation of you, ensure you are making a great first impression to set yourself apart from the crowd!

Good luck to you and if I can help you with your personal branding or professional headshots - I’d love to hear from you!