I recently coached a highly accomplished client with a picture-perfect resume. She’d held her last professional position at a big-name company for 12 years, during which she’d advanced in her position 4 times. In addition to her marketable skills, this client, whom we’ll call Andrea, had a work history which demonstrated loyalty, growth potential and initiative.
During our first meeting, Andrea expressed concern about her salary requirements, which she hoped to match with her most recent position. She’d been interviewing, and when the final decision came down to her and another candidate, she felt she may have been pricing herself out of a job. She assumed the hiring manager would hire the candidate they could pay the least.
I explained that a professional brand is more than a list of qualifications. Andrea’s history of advancement clearly displays attributes important beyond skill set. In fact, studies show a candidate’s personality traits can matter as much as technical skills in hiring decisions, and that her demonstrated flexibility along with an eagerness to learn and grow are top among them.
This conversation came as a timely reminder to me of the value of developing a professional brand to meet career goals. We get so focused on keywords and referral networking in order to land the interview, we sometimes forget that what really gives us the edge goes beyond what you read on a resume.
According to an article in the WSJ, 93% of employers believe that critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills are more important than a job candidate’s undergraduate field of study.
The reality is, most people can learn most things. So if you have the core skills the position requires, hiring managers know you can learn the rest, especially when you have the work history to prove it.
Building a Brand to Reach Your Career Goals
When selecting the best employee for an open role, hiring managers look for certain personality attributes that may not be visible on your resume. While lists of these attributes vary, most common among them are the following:
- Ability to get along well with others, great communications skills
- Positive attitude
- Eagerness to learn, growth potential
- Willingness to take the initiative, problem solve
Think of how important these attributes are. If as a hiring manager, I offer you the job and you complain incessantly, refuse to collaborate, or treat others poorly, I’ve made a poor hire, no matter how technically skilled you are.
So, back to my qualified client and her dilemma with communicating her value beyond her stated qualifications through her professional brand. By sharing examples or third-party endorsements, she can highlight the valuable attributes she’s known for contributing.
Hiring managers face multiple risks related to their decisions, so beyond the resume, they’re looking for indications that prospective candidates will:
- work well with colleagues
- be committed to and conscientious about their work
- deal with problems without constantly asking for help
Do any of the above attributes sound like you? Maybe you’re recognized as a mentor, acknowledged for artful diplomacy or known for your willingness to see a problem through to resolution when everyone else has given up.
You can use your brand in your summary statement on your resume, on your cover letters and in your LinkedIn profile to address the risks inherent to any hiring decision.
After our conversation, Andrea updated her resume and LinkedIn summaries to highlight her brand: “recognized for flexibility and growth potential, selected for multiple promotions” calls attention to these valuable characteristics, which she can continue to emphasize during her interviews.
This shifts the conversation from a strictly skills-based discussion to focus on the qualities that really matter in a hiring decision; compatibility, competency and commitment. An effective brand illustrates how you’ll contribute to the company culture in ways beyond skill set, conveying your value you need to generate the best offer and ultimately land the job.
About the author
Elizabeth Borelli is a professionally trained career coach, curriculum developer and workshop facilitator. Frustrated by a lack of resources for candidates ready to return to work after a career break, she created CareerBuilder’s Bootcamps; a set of interactive, online courses to accelerate job search success.
Engaging, online courses combined with one-to-one coaching calls prepare job seekers to find the right new career opportunities, helping them to stay positive and engaged throughout the process.
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