Great Resumes Fast » Resume Writing Tips » What Shelf Is Your Resume On?

This is a recent guest post from career expert Megan Koehler.

So, I was doing some grocery shopping the other day and I got to thinking about marketing, packaging and branding and how similar the requirements are whether you are trying to sell a box of cereal of if you are trying to sell yourself. For those of you who are new to the idea of personal branding or those of you that still aren’t convinced of the value I’m hoping this will help paint a better picture for you.

A product’s success is due in large part to the image it projects, the audience it targets and how it is promoted. If you take those things away all you have left is a product. It might be the newest and greatest product out there but if no one knows about it then it will be bypassed by a product that is almost as good and almost as great.

If you think of a grocery store shelf the most eye-catching, brand names products are at eye level, right in your face where you notice them. These products are the brand name products. The ones with fancy packages, catchy jingles and clever commercials. The bottom shelves are reserved for the generic (translation – under-marketed) products. How sad they are with their nondescript packaging and lack of flashy commercials to let the consumer know how good they are. While these no name brands may be as high quality, tasty and good for you they project no image, have no appeal and are basically boring. Unless you really look for them you’re not going to notice them. So there they’ll sit on the bottom shelf.

The same is true for an unbranded resume. Product promotion is key and you my friend are the product. You may find it hard to promote yourself, you might feel like it’s bragging, arrogant or over the top. Well, guess what? That is what’s selling these days and unless you want your resume to be banished to the bottom shelf I suggest you start working on the image, packaging and promotion for YOU!

When you go shopping, whether it is for food, clothing, appliances etc. you can choose between a generic product or a brand name product. What factors influence your decision? Quality? Reputation? Features? Well, surprise, surprise, these are the same things a hiring manager will look at to determine who to hire. Is the candidate high-quality? Do they have a stellar reputation? What features or expertise can they offer? You need top start thinking of yourself as a product and marketing yourself as such. If you can’t do that yourself then hire a professional who knows what hiring managers are looking for and how to market to those requirements.

Look at your image, or packaging. The first thing a recruiter will see is your resume. It must be exceptional. You know the saying don’t judge a book by it cover, right? Well, I’m sorry to say that your resume will be judged on how it looks. Hiring managers won’t take the time to get past the crazy font, horrible formatting and boring content to find out if you are the perfect candidate for a position. That is why it essential that your resume has a professional appearance, a powerful brand and an eye-catching format.

Once you have the perfect resume you need to focus on your marketing. Sending a resume and sitting back to wait for the phone to ring will get you no where. You need to take control by stepping up your personal marketing campaign. If you’re not already you need to get online and sign up for some professional sites like LinkedIn, Naymz and Google profile. These are FREE promotional tools so take advantage. If you’re not tech literate get help. It’s an online world and you will be at a disadvantage if you don’t utilize these opportunities.

Personal branding is where it’s at these days so make sure your online image reflects your strong, unique and authentic personal brand. Having a personal brand will set you apart from other candidates by highlighting your value proposition and will appeal to hiring managers and recruiters alike. If you are having a hard time discovering your personal brand ask some trusted family, friends and associates to help you out. How would they describe you? What do you stand for? What are your passions? Sometimes having an objective view from someone else will help you put your personal brand into words.

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If you think of yourself as a product and work on your package, brand and promotion and you will stay one step ahead of your competition.

Megan Koehler is a resume writing expert and personal branding strategist at Great Resumes Fast. She enjoys working with clients to help them identify and develop their personal brand. For a free LinkedIn profile assessment email or call toll-free 800-991-5187 to learn how you can benefit from developing your personal brand.

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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!


  1. Tammi Jean Franklin on November 30, 2009 at 11:52 pm


    You presented a great branding analogy and I’m sold. I’m moving off the generic shelf onto a branded shelf starting today. Thank you so much.

  2. Bruce Bixler on December 1, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    “That is why it essential that your resume has a professional appearance, a powerful brand and an eye-catching format.” So don’t leave us hanging. Can we have an example of what you would consider professional appearance, powerful brand, and the one I would like to see the most an eye-catching format.

  3. […] What Shelf Is Your Resume On? […]

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