Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sell Your Brand, not Your Objective

Today is May 1- graduation month for thousands of college students. It is a rite of passage from being a student to embarking on a professional career. And, a time to craft one's story for prospective employers. The traditional vehicle for communicating our personal brand story is the résumé. That document forces us to reduce our education, experiences, accomplishments, and interests to a single page. It is almost scary to think about how influential one page is in deciding whether an applicant is considered or cast aside. The significance of one's résumé getting noticed is even greater for aspiring sports marketing professionals given the high number of applicants for any given open position.

It is crucial to write a résumé that sells your brand. That challenge begins with the manner in which you introduce your brand. The standard "headline" on a résumé is an objective statement. It is usually a one-sentence pronouncement of what the person seeks. And, most objective statements are boring and full of abstract language. The result? The résumé writer has succeeded in sounding like most other people but have done little to communicate their value. In fact, many career and human resources experts say leave the objective statement off the résumé because it does little to define the person.

You need a headline that introduces your brand to prospective employers, but an objective statement just does not cut it. Here is an alternative suggested by Todd Henry, a creativity expert and author of The Accidental Creative. Henry advocates writing a 7-word bio. The idea is simple: distill want you do and who you are into a 7-word description. I see it as a cross between mission and position. More importantly, it has much more potential to define who you are and how you uniquely add value than the standard objective statement. Drilling down to 7 words forces us to strip away words we likely do not use otherwise that make their way into objective statements. In other words, cut to the chase and define who you are. What is the payoff of having a 7-word bio? It provides grounding and focus that guides decisions on what you adopt as priorities and how you manage relationships.

If you know a graduate preparing to launch his or her career, please share the idea of a 7-word bio. More importantly, the 7-word bio concept is not limited in usefulness to résumés. All of us can bring clarity to our personal brand by thinking in these terms. What are your 7 words?