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by Joe Turner, "The Job Search Guy" | March 10, 2009


Call it a slogan, a branding image, a tagline. When you hear it or see it, you know exactly what the product is and what it might do for you. Walk down the aisle of any food store and you'll encounter hundreds of similar slogans that reach into your subconscious and press your "buy me" buttons. Don't like breakfast cereal? Try cars. Think "Ultimate Driving Machine" instead. See what I mean? The best branding images help to sell billions of dollars of products every year. Why? Because they work by promising you a benefit for using their particular product.

So, what does this have to do with your resume?

Everything. Too often, I see candidates who think job search is all about selling their specific skills. Skills are only commodities. They get you in the door but they don't win you the job. Many HR managers now report getting over 100 resumes per job posting. So it's easy to get lost in the resume shuffle with dozens of other candidates. They're all competing for that same job and they all have the same or better skills as you. You only have a few seconds to make a positive impression. How can you stand out and get selected? A great way to do that is to take a lesson from Madison Avenue, the masters of marketing, and develop a "slogan" of your own. Before we do that, let's do a little Marketing 101.

You purchase products for the benefits they give. You don't buy snow tires in the winter, you buy traction. Traction is the benefit that gets you where you want to go in the snow safely and reliably. Employers think the same way when they need to hire a new employee. They're not buying your skills. They want to know how you can be an asset to their bottom line. This boils down to only two areas where you can provide a benefit - how you can help an employer either: 1) make money, or 2) save money. When you answer this question, you're thinking bigger picture by understanding where you fit into the business scheme of things. You also set yourself apart from most of your competitors.

The best way to accomplish this is to develop your own "slogan." Called a "unique selling proposition," this is a short sentence that describes a major, unique benefit that you can offer your next employer. For example, say you're a project manager and you have a number of skills, such as software, hardware and management expertise. Trouble is, most other project managers competing with you have the same skills. If you think further, though, you find your particular strength might be your ability to identify and solve problems early in your projects. So your USP goes something like this:

"Seasoned project manager with a strength in identifying and solving problems."

Now we must add one more item and that's the benefit to the employer. Since employers buy "making money" or "saving money," we need to find a way to attach dollars to it. This is called monetizing your benefit and it's what will separate you from every other project manager you compete with. It may take some research or calculation but it's well worth the effort. Try to arrive at a conservative figure for how much money you helped your employer make or save on a given project, sale or time period. In this case, our project manager calculated that he helped save his employer over $3 million in a three-year period while he completed over $12 million in projects. His USP becomes:

"Seasoned project manager whose strengths in identifying and solving problems have saved my employer over $3 million while completing over $12 million worth of projects during the past three years."

Now we start to see something different take shape as one individual stands out in the cluttered landscape of project managers. By placing this one sentence front and center at the top of his resume, magic can start to happen. No longer is this candidate a commodity. The employer can clearly see the benefit of having an employee who can bring this special talent to help save $3 million.


When you think of the job search as marketing, you can see the employer as the purchaser looking through endless ads of candidates that all look alike. You can separate yourself as a special product with your own short "slogan" or "unique selling proposition" on your resume. This short sentence should identify:

  1. What you are
  2. What your major benefit is
  3. How this benefit helps the employer make money or save money.

Put this all-important sentence on your resume and watch how your job search can change for the better. Your USP becomes your "Breakfast of Champions" slogan, instantly creating value and pushing the buy buttons of your next employer.

As a recruiter, Joe Turner has spent the past 15 years finding and placing top candidates in some of the best jobs of their careers. Known on the Internet as "The Job Search Guy," Joe has also authored how-to books on interviewing and job search. He's been interviewed on several radio talk shows. Discover more insider job search secrets by visiting:


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