Brand Magic: Make Your Audience Care about Your Candidacy

brand magic for executives

My husband is a professional entertainer – stand-up comedian, comedy magic show performer, and balloon sculptor. Though his interest in magic is more about comedic illusions (“more amusing than amazing” is how he describes his comedy magic show), I tagged along with him last night at MagiFest – a magic convention hosted in Columbus, OH every year.

One of the talented speakers, John Armato, made an intriguing presentation entitled “Made You Look is Not the Same Thing as Made You Care.” Blending his PR expertise with his passion for magic, Armato made some outstanding points that apply to job seekers as much as they do magicians.

 Break through Information Overwhelm

His basic premise is easy to grasp – we are all victims of information overload. Armato made the point that back in the 60’s you had 40 seconds or more to capture your audience’s attention regardless of your medium. Today you have 7 seconds. Those 7 seconds equate to 15-20 words or 120-140 characters (sound familiar?).

Do you summarize your brand in 7 seconds and 15-20 words? You should and you must, in your resume’s summary, branding, and positioning and your LinkedIn headline (120 characters), summary, and status updates. Carry your brand messaging through your LinkedIn connection invitations, voice mails, and interview answers, as well. And don’t forget your email signature.

Brevity alone isn’t the answer, though. As Armato noted, 71% of all tweets spark no reaction. They may be read but they aren’t acted upon, which is the point from a marketing perspective. In his words:

“It’s not about ‘more’ or volume. It’s about meaning.”

“You can’t fight clutter with clutter. You can only fight clutter with relevance.”

Question Assumptions

Armato urged us to question assumptions about our marketing efforts. What are we assuming to be true that isn’t? The overwhelming majority of executive candidates I speak with believe more is better on their resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles, for example. They always want to add more phrases, more details, and more jobs. Problem is, more isn’t better. Less is more in today’s information-overloaded universe.

Try this example on for size. Let’s say you’re a senior customer service executive who’s expert in customer acquisition, retention, and engagement. Let’s also say you have 2 targets, 1 with company A who is seeking a VP of Customer Experience and 1 with company B who is seeking a VP of Client Relations. Which is better – to include both key words in your resume or create 2 separate versions?

If you’re savvy about this you’ll repeat this key term in your document. If you have 10 such references in your document, say, that’s 10 usages of “customer” experience if you create a separate version. If you try to address both terms in the same document, you’ll have 5 of each. In other words, trying to encompass more than 1 target in a resume dilutes your brand and reduces your key word count. A highly targeted resume will always out-perform one that tries to cover too much territory in a single document. Hone your message with fewer words that say more rather than more words that communicate less.

Stand for Something

To break through the noise, your message has to stand for something. You have to stand for something.

“To stand for everything is to stand for nothing.”

As an executive job seeker, what do you stand for? How do you want to be known? What is your candidacy about? Why should your resume readers, profile visitors, and job interviewers like you?

Stake a powerful claim and share it consistently across all of your job search strategies. Stop trying to be all things to all companies or all recruiters – generalists lose out in our specialization-driven workforce.

Do Something Real

By leveraging documents and communications that show you stand for something, you give your readers, visitors, and listeners a reason to care. In Armato’s words, “What can you do for them (your target market), not to them?”

What need does your candidacy fulfill for your target employers? What problem(s) can you solve for them? How well is this articulated in your resume, LinkedIn profile, executive bio, networking, or interviewing?

The executive resumes I review daily are almost always focused on proving a long list of skills – so much so that their resume looks and sounds like everyone else’s. How does this make your candidacy stand out? It can’t, which is another reason you may need multiple resumes in order to fully showcase your wealth of skills and career pathways. By doing this strategically you end up with a multifaceted career search, a portfolio of career communications tools, and a wealth of opportunities to pursue.

Magic really isn’t magic. It’s science shared in an artful way. The same is true of career branding. You don’t need miracles to get an employer’s attention – you need a well-thought-out career brand presented with polish and delivered with a logical strategy to make your target market care about who you are.

Simple? Yes. And no.