If you’re not familiar with a career biography, think of it as an article written about you in “third person,” for use on a Website or where ever an article about you might appear. Your resume plus your career bio are the foundation for your career brand marketing and online presence, positioning your unique promise of value over your competition.
Today’s career biography is not the stodgy, boring document you may have seen or used in the past. Energized with personal branding, your bio can be an interesting, vibrant journey through career highlights.
Because your bio brings out your “softer” skills, it helps generate chemistry for who you are, what you’re like to work with, and whether you’ll be a good fit for a company’s culture.
For executives, when your candidacy is making the rounds among decision makers or within your network, your career bio may be requested before your resume. Sometimes your resume won’t come into play until later in the interviewing/hiring cycle.
Questions to develop your career biography.
Here are some of the questions I have my clients answer when we’re working on their bios:
- What are 3 or 4 defining moments for you as your career progressed?
- In what ways has your life been admirable?
- How have adversity and challenges made you stronger and a more valuable employee?
- What are the two or three most important lessons you learned along the way that others could benefit from?
- Have you been a hero or mentor to others at work? How did your mentoring positively impact the company?
Tactics to move your career bio from bland to brand-solid:
- Capture attention in the first paragraph.
You can lead with your personal or leadership brand statement or a snippet of a recommendation from someone who recently worked with you. What others say about your work is the true measure of your brand. Another idea that can have great impact is to start with a relevant quote from an industry subject matter expert or respected leader.
- Leverage storytelling to support your brand and make your bio interesting to read.
Build stories around a few major career accomplishments and incorporate your relevant keyword phrases. Flesh out some of your top contributions to employers, marking your career progression. Storytelling conjures up the benefits you'll bring to an organization and helps readers envision you in the position they’re trying to fill.
- Include a sneak peek into your personal life.
Definitely include volunteer work and serving on Committees and Boards of Directors. Volunteerism is a brand touch point. Your commitment and the way you give back to your community says a lot about you.
Wrap it up with a brief nod to those in your immediate family – their jobs and hobbies. Write a little about your hobbies, a relevant humorous incident, and/or special activities. It’s okay to show your lighter side – the things that would be inappropriate in your resume. And your favorite pastimes can spark interest from those who share them.
- Format the document for visual appeal and ease in reading.
Break up long paragraphs into 2 or 3 smaller ones to add more white space, drawing readers' eyes down the page and compelling them to read the entire document. One innovative technique is to include several sub-headings throughout, which is also an opportunity to build in more relevant keywords.
Your career biography offers value in job search and beyond.
- Transform your bio into the “About” page on your blog and/or website.
- Parts of your bio, along with your resume, can be incorporated into your LinkedIn and other online profiles.
- Bios are essential introductions for speaking engagements. When making a presentation or giving a speech, give your bio to the introducer ahead of time.
- You can also encapsulate your full bio into a tidy one or two paragraph mini-bio to include when you guest blog, write articles or white papers, or publish anything online or offline.
- Follow up networking events by sending your bio to people you’ve connected with. It’s less formal than your resume.
To see how to bring all the pieces together in a career brand biography that backs up your personal brand and complements your resume, take a look at this example I created for a retail real estate executive.
© Copyright Meg Guiseppi, 2009. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Meg Guiseppi, Job-Hunt’s Personal Branding Expert and 20-year careers industry veteran, holds 7 certifications, including Reach Certified Personal Branding Strategist, Reach Certified Online Identity Strategist, and Master Resume Writer. Meg is the author of the ebook, "23 Ways You Sabotage Your Executive Job Search and How Your Brand Will Help You Land." Connect with Meg at Executive Career Brand, on LinkedIn (LinkedIn.com/in/megguiseppi), and on Twitter (@megguiseppi).
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