Branding Yourself As A Commodity Candidate

Dec 14 2011 in Featured, reCareered Blog, Resumes by Phil Rosenberg

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What would you rather do … brand yourself as a commodity? Or brand yourself as a superior candidate?

OK, dumb question – who wouldn’t prefer to brand themselves as a superior candidate?

Would it surprise you to learn that there are at least 4 places on resumes where most job seekers brand themselves as a commodity?

First, let’s look at what happens in an employer’s mind when you appear as a commodity.

An employer sees a commodity candidate in much the same way that a corporate buyer sees a commodity product – exactly the same, except for price.

But an employer also may see a few things in addition to price. When an employer sees you as the same as other candidates, a hiring manager will focus on what makes you different. If you’ve focused on minimum skills, you look like other candidates, except for:

  • Age
  • Transition/employment gaps
  • Proximity to office and/or clients
  • Salary history/requirements

If you’re 30, working for a direct competitor, live a block away from the office and are currently making 10% under market, you’ll likely appear attractive when you meet minimum employer requirements. But if that’s happening to you, you’re probably too busy interviewing to read job search advice.

If employers focusing on one (or more) of the above situations are hurting your job search chances or if you’re not getting interviews to begin with, odds are you’re branding yourself as a commodity.

These are the 4 most common places your resume screams “commodity”:

  1. Objective statement: In the place you have your best chance to generate your reader’s first impression, an objective statement talks about what you want. To see why employers don’t care what you want during a job shortage, see .
  2. Describing yourself as a generalist: When you focus on your generalist skills, you brand yourself as a commodity. Hiring managers don’t make decisions on generalist skills based on your resume – they do it in person. So when you describe yourself as a generalist, you describe yourself as average … as having a little knowledge about many things. During job shortages, employers look for specialist skills first, and generalist skills a distant second … even for generalist positions. See to learn why employers seek specialists over generalists.
  3. Summary section: Summary sections and skills summaries tell your reader all the things you can do, branding you as a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. During times of job shortages, employers primarily seek concentrated and specialized skills – even for generalist positions.
  4. Bullet points: Do you focus your reader on bulletpoints that describe your responsibilities? If so, then your reader gets the impression that the most important thing about you is that you met minimum job requirements. Does that sound like a superior candidate?
  5. Look at your resume carefully – how many of these commodity branding techniques are working against you on your resume?


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    Author: Phil Rosenberg

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