STEM Resume Breakdown, Part 2 of 6 – How to Craft a Branded Headline

What does building a personal brand have to do with your job search?

In one word, everything! The most successful job seekers are those who are able to clearly communicate who they are, what they’re good at, and how they add value. Essentially, these are the core messages you should be aiming to communicate anytime you apply for a job. When done right, you open doors to new job opportunities and promotions, while establishing your foothold as an industry thought leader and expert. All of these elements will support you as you compete in today’s global marketplace.

For years, it was assumed that personal branding was only for high-level corporate executives, industry titans, and celebrities. Not anymore. These days, everyone can benefit from developing their own personal brand around the strengths, passions, and other unique characteristics.

Some great examples of scientists and engineers who have leveraged the power of personal branding include American astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and technology entrepreneur and engineer, Elon Musk—both of whom can serve as a source of great inspiration as you look to uncover and communicate your own brand identity.

This second post in our 6-part STEM resume breakdown series will concentrate on how to create a compelling branded headline and supporting statement that cements your overall “fit” and expertise in the mind of the reader.

Let’s get started!

What is a branded headline?

Communicating your personal brand on your resume can be challenging for many job seekers due to the cut and dry nature of resumes.

In my work with job seekers, I take a 2-fold approach in helping you to immediately convey your personal brand:

  • Creating a branded headline that stakes a claim on the position you are seeking, and …
  • Formulating a supporting brand statement, or tagline, that resonates with your prospective employer(s).

Most job seekers do not include a branded headline on their resume, which is a huge mistake. Recruiters spend an average of 4-6 seconds reviewing a single resume. Therefore, you need to make those seconds count by expressing who you are and the value you bring to the company. It’s incredible how much of an impact the right words can make in moving your resume to that yes pile.

The branded headline and supporting statement come after your name and contact information. To help you visualize what this could look like, I’ll be showing you some examples of branded headlines and supporting statements that I’ve written for previous STEM clients that I’ve worked with.

Names and personal information were fictionalized to protect client confidentiality.

Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes for a moment.

You’re trying to fill one of those hard-to-fill electrical engineering positions. For the last hour, you’ve been combing through dozens of resumes, all of which are sporting the same default look: black and white with Times New Roman font. Within the first 20 minutes, you feel boredom setting in until you see Patricia’s resume.

What makes this headline effective?

This headline instantly conveys exactly what Patricia is looking for in her career target, an Electrical Engineer, supported by:

  • Her Master’s of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE) and a Project Management Professional certification.
  • A specific engineering discipline – energy and power engineering – that focuses on the markets that interest her.
  • The brief, but sharp tagline that alludes to the value that she can deliver for prospective employers.

In just a few words, the reader has a feel of Patricia’s overall “fit” and expertise before speaking with her. As a result, it’s more likely to move the reader to continue skimming the rest of Patricia’s resume.

Let’s take a look at a couple more branded headline and supporting statements.

We took a similar approach to position Martin for a senior-level Hardware Engineering role. Like Patricia’s headline, we indicated exactly what position Martin wanted to target for his next career move. During our work together, he wanted to emphasize his dual expertise in hardware engineering and information security expertise.

Cynthia was a more experienced candidate who was looking to advance to a director-level role within the clinical pharmaceutical R&D space. Therefore, we developed a supporting statement that encompassed the key brand attributes she wanted to emphasize for her next career target. You may notice that we applied the shading technique featured in part 1 of our series for some additional flair.

How do you come up with a compelling branded headline?

A successful branded headline must position you for the role that you want. In my experience, some job seekers are initially resistant to having a branded headline on their resume for 2 main reasons.

  • The concept of personal branding is still seen as cutting-edge. Unless you’ve worked in HR, recruiting, or played a role in the hiring process, it’s unlikely that you’ll have seen this element.

  • Varying degrees of imposter syndrome is at work. This is especially prevalent among job seekers targeting a role that they’ve never held before. Ask yourself: how do you think others that came before you landed higher-level positions?

There was a time where you could show up to work, put in your time, and hope to earn recognition for your efforts. Those days are over, especially if you aim to reach greater professional heights. In today’s modern job market, you need to become an entrepreneur of your career. Here’s how:

  • Analyze. Think back to your current and former positions and compare them to your desired career target. What skills and achievements were most important in those roles? How can you tie those assets to this next career target?

  • Dig deeper. The strongest headlines weave in keywords that describe why your particular skills and qualifications align with the job target.

By including a branded headline on your resume, you will set yourself miles apart from the majority of job seekers. However, branded headlines are most effective when accompanied by a brief supporting statement, just like those in the examples above.

How do you develop a value-add supporting statement?

The supporting statement strengthens your resume headline by providing the reader with an idea of the unique value that you can offer their company. I suggest keeping the following 5 tips in mind when creating your own supporting statement:

  • Make it short and attention-grabbing, aiming for 20 words or less.
  • Focus on the strengths and value that resonate with the prospective employer.
  • Set the tone and pace for the supporting accomplishments that follow in the rest of your resume.
  • Steer clear of overused words and phrases. (Ex: hard worker, great communicator, etc.)*

*While there is nothing wrong with those qualities, it’s very easy for anyone to make those claims. Employers are more interested to see you cite specific evidence of those claims in your work history.

Coming up with a branded headline or a personal brand statement can be challenging. Even if you’re entering the workforce for the first time, you can still benefit from personal branding. Use the guidelines in this post and your own experiences to identify your skills, knowledge, and attributes. Consider how those attributes relate to your career target.

Finally, it’s important to remember that developing and growing a personal brand takes time. However, it is a valuable investment that will pay dividends by helping you build relationships with an audience beyond your current company and former positions.

What did you come up with for your branded headline and supporting statement? Feel free to let me know in the comments. Don’t forget to check out our next post in the STEM Resume Breakdown, Part 3 of 6 – How to Write a Striking Summary.

Are you struggling to distinguish yourself with a branded headline and supporting statement? Scientech Resumes helps job seekers and entrepreneurs position themselves for successful careers in science (incl. medical), technology (incl. IT), engineering, and mathematics fields.

Schedule a 30-minute, complimentary career discovery session today and get some real-time feedback on your current resume and job search strategy. I’d love to help get you where you want to, with greater results! 




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