When you're looking for a job, the most important thing to understand is your personal brand.  What reputation does your name carry?  What is the first impression employers get from your resume?  What tone do you use throughout your cover letter?

These are just elements of the "first impression" your brand makes with potential employers.  The next, and most important, element is your actual personality.  How do you dress when you show up for the interview?  How do you introduce yourself?  How do you address interview questions?  While a stunning background and intriguing cover letter might get you in the door, your personality will ultimately seal or break the deal for you.

Too often, the job search becomes a numbers game.  Seekers are forced to submit hundreds upon hundreds of resumes and cover letters through classified advertisements, online job listings, and network connections only to receive a handful of callbacks.  The process can become daunting, tedious, and downright boring.

It can also utterly destroy your brand.

After rewriting your resume fourty or fifty times, it likely touches more on job-related keywords than your actual brand.  While it might express a tiny bit of your personality through its design, the document itself is a cold, wordsmithed, empty vessel with which you hope your message, "I'm the best solution to your problem," gets through.  Your cover letter has likely descended from being an edgy direct-mail piece to a cut-and-paste form letter as well.

This is fine for Monster.com and all the companies that outsource their hiring to Taleo, but what does it do for you?  Are you forced to re-read your cover letter and resume when you get that first call back?  Is this more because you can't remember who this one company out of hundreds of potentials is?  Or is it because you can't remember how you presented brand YOU in the first place?  Either way, it spells trouble.

Think of it this way:

If Apple stopped caring about its marketing just to blanket thousands of potential customers with its advertisements, would people still have lined up outside Apple stores to get the new iPhone?  Probably not.

Understand your brand and make sure every part of your job search, from the resume to the handshake, is on-brand behavior.