• Lori A. Jazvac

The Resume: An Authentic Branding Tool


As a professional resume writer, I have the opportunity to review and assess a wide range of resumes from jobseekers of various fields and walks of life.

A resume is not only a valuable job search tool, but a branded document that reveals a footprint of the candidate’s past, present, and a glimpse into the future. In essence, a resume tells a powerful story about the candidate's professional expertise, strengths and milestones, while projecting a forecast of their potential.

With a scrutinizing eye, a prospective employer investigates how the candidate’s skills and qualifications align with the job requirements. However, when reading resumes, there is more to this marketing document than meets the eye. Certain career patterns, themes, and gaps can be spotted and analyzed in the resume, offering a synopsis of the bigger picture – if we carefully read between the lines.

When I look at a resume, I also try to make sense out of a candidate’s career transition – if and how often they have changed roles. As a career sleuth, I investigate why some skills are buried and others are brought to the forefront. It’s about evaluating the strategy or lack of strategy applied. In sum, I dig for the essential truth in order to determine the authentic value of the candidate.

When Crafting Resumes, It’s All About Brand

There seems to be a common theme linking the resumes that come across my desk, which justifies the rationale for a total overhaul. Many candidates struggle with marketing themselves in a way that draws the interest of the prospective employer. For this reason, resumes often fail to incorporate the principles of brand engineering. This is an innovative topic that I had the privilege of facilitating in a chat forum at the CareerPro 2016 Conference earlier this week.

Here are some critical points that I have observed when assessing resumes:

  1. Resumes lack measurable accomplishments to highlight the candidate's value.

  2. Objective lines such as: “seeking work that allows me to utilize my particular skill sets in a growth-oriented environment” are meaningless and redundant.

  3. There isn’t a clear career target – just a generic “duties and responsibilities- based resume” with no focus or tangible results.

  4. Some resumes are not legible, but crammed with information, which detracts the prospective employer’s attention.

  5. The “references available upon request” only takes up unnecessary space or serves as an excuse to fill a two-page resume.

The Power of Brand Engineering

Brand Engineering can be described as the art of resume branding using various techniques aligned with the candidate's unique value, best practices, and resume trends designed to target the respective audience and set the candidate apart.

Sharon Graham, Executive Director of CPC and Author of the Best Canadian Resume Series and The Canadian Resume Strategist states, “brand engineering is much more than design…It’s about creating a visual and verbal image for a client.”

As career practitioners and resume writers, we need to be aware of the strategy used in crafting a resume and how it showcases our client’s authentic value.

Brand engineering enforces us to debunk outdated resume styles and practices while replacing them with a fresh and innovative approach to resume writing.

We need to dig deeper to capture results by asking relevant questions that draw out pertinent information to unearth compelling career stories.

When passive language is used, it often fails to link the results to the candidate’s actions. Sure signs of passive language include words such as “is,” “are,” “was,” “were,” or “became”.

Writing resumes is a thoughtful process which incorporates thorough research, an effective strategy, and open communication with the client to draw out compelling career stories. In a competitive labour market, brand engineering is essential.