The New Résumé: Brand Engineering


In recent years, we’ve seen a complete transformation of the résumé. No longer are career objectives outwardly stated on résumés. Employers do not welcome an “overloaded” listing of key words. Long summary profiles of two to three paragraphs are being replaced with three to five sentences representing a succinct “snapshot” of the candidate. And, outdated statements such as “references available upon request” have run their course.

In short, verbosity in the résumé is no longer a winning strategy.

As career professionals, we continuously strive to create powerful résumés for our clients. But today, we need to apply innovative ideas in order to generate a résumé that will stand out and elicit interviews. Since employers formulate a first impression of the candidate’s résumé in a few seconds, we can capture their attention using one essential strategy: Brand Engineering.

According to Sharon Graham, CPC’s Executive Director and author of the Best Canadian Résumés Series, “When it comes to résumés, Brand Engineering is much more than design. There is a science beneath the art of developing a résumé. And, everything is strategic.” In the newest edition of The Canadian Résumé Strategist, she explains that Brand Engineering is all about creating a visual and verbal image of a client.

Why is Brand Engineering So Important?

Consider the fact that 90 per cent of information transmitted to the brain is imagery. Because visual data is processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text, it makes sense to incorporate some visuals — pictures, images, and infographics to communicate an interesting story.  This strategy is more powerful when combined with powerful language and will sustain the attention of the employer longer. Brand Engineering serves as a reminder of the candidate’s offerings or their Unique Value Proposition.

Today’s résumé is focused, concise, and error-free. It’s easy to read. The new résumé is targeted towards the specific audience and incorporates the correct balance of the right key words. In most cases, when engineering your client’s résumé, a hybrid format works best as it integrates the characteristics of a reverse chronological format with a functional one. To successfully brand your client’s résumé, employ these strategies:

  • Create an impressive value-based headline and use brief sentences that feature key accomplishments early on.
  • Shorten accomplishments by using a tight Action-Results approach (skipping the traditional Situation/Challenge piece).
  • Highlight the client’s branding statement, and critical information and facts that bring value to the employer.
  • Employ images including graphs, arrows, shapes, numbers, percentages, and charts.
  • Apply a generous amount of white space for readability.
  • Use bullets, where appropriate, to create visual appeal when highlighting information.
  • Include many references to buying motivators. Employers are not as interested in how many years of expertise the candidate possesses, but how they can fulfill buying motivators: improved customer satisfaction, increased profitability, cost-saving initiatives, or team collaboration.

What Colour is Your Client’s Personal Brand?

Brand Engineering also involves applying the use of colour in a thoughtful way to distinguish your client’s unique brand attributes. Differentiate your client’s brand with subtle but appropriate shades of colour. Here are some examples:

  • BLUE: Applying a modest dark blue colour can indicate reliability, authority, trust, confidence, and even loyalty.
  • GREEN: Green hallmarks growth, optimism, youth, renewal, and healing. This explains why green is effective in featuring an environmental-related brand.
  • YELLOW: Adding subtle yellow can infuse energy and creativity into a plain résumé.
  • ORANGE: A tinge of orange with black signals productivity, enthusiasm, and strength in a sales-based résumé.
  • RED: A splash of red highlights action, courage, and passion.
  • PURPLE: You can communicate royalty, inspiration, dignity, and even ambition with purple.

Strive for an ATS-friendly résumé that is no more than two to three pages in length. In this competitive market, employers are inundated with an abundant number of résumés to sift through. Ensure that your client’s résumé communicates a strong, strategic brand so that it gets “screened in” by the Applicant Tracking System and ultimately reaches the top of the pile for human review.

As inspiring career professionals, our New Year’s resolution should be focussed on continuing our success in creating branded résumés that achieve tangible results for our clients. Keep your résumé writing skills updated with advanced résumé writing training. Consider working towards your Certified Résumé Strategist credential and distinguish your unique brand. Then, submit your “Brand Engineered Résumé” for an Award of Excellence!

Lori A. Jazvac is a passionate, award-winning Master Certified Résumé Strategist and Certified Employment Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. As a multi-certified Master Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Coach, she specializes in helping clients navigate challenging career transitions. In 2013, an empowering vision inspired Lori to launch Creative Horizons Communications, a holistic career services firm where she virtually supports jobseekers around the globe to embrace their next career milestone. In her spare time, Lori enjoys dance, blogging, watching comedies and reality shows, yoga, and taking long walks in nature.


Spread the love
Categories: ,
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Great post! I have often wondered about colour in resumes and I really appreciated the breakdown of colours and their meaning. Thanks for sharing!

I would love to see a sample.

Hi Lori,

There will be samples available in the new edition of the Certified Resume Strategist (CRS) eGuide which is due out in April 2016.

I also include some examples in the upcoming Advanced Resume Development Course.

Last edited 1 year ago by Sharon Graham

Thanks, Jodie and Lori, for your feedback on the Brand Engineering post.
Colour is effective when used appropriately in resume design. However, the quality of content is key.

I also encourage you both to view the various resume samples in CPC’s latest Certified Resume Strategist (CRS eGuide) edition this spring.

Additionally, the Advanced Resume Development Program is an excellent program that features plenty of solid resume samples and integrates the theory and practice of strategic resume writing.

Last edited 1 year ago by Lori Jazvac

Great article. I think a lot of people underestimate the effect that color has on how we perceive blogs, profiles, and products.

Hannah Morgan talks about building your brand through visuals in her book “The Infographic Resume.” In fact, she makes the argument that infographic resumes can be used to build your brand even while you’re not actively seeking out a new job.

She wrote an article about creating infographic resumes for our blog, which you can read here:

Thanks, Sara, for sharing those valuable resources by author and branding expert, Hannah Morgan on infographic resumes!.

While compelling, results-driven content is the key to effective resumes, adding the element of colour and visuals are important aspects of brand engineering. At the virtual CareerPro Conference last week, I covered the topic of ‘The New Resume: Brand Engineering” in a facilitated chat

The concept of brand engineering is also covered in CPC’s Advanced Resume Development course.

Related to brand engineering, a book will be released in fall 2017 by award-winning resume experts and fellow CPC members, Adrienne Tom and Skye Berry-Burke, on “Learn How to be a Resume Architect: Strategies for Going Beyond the Traditional Resume with Modern Design”.

Last edited 1 year ago by Lori Jazvac