Most job seekers understandably think that their resume is their most important written job search tool. Why? Because most people associate resumes with landing their next job. Resumes are important, even critical, to your ultimate goal of landing your next job. However, resumes are best used only when you are applying for a specific position. After all, that’s the purpose of a resume – to articulate your background, skills, abilities and credentials – with the hopes of garnering an interview.
However, any savvy job seeker in this current employment market knows that blindly applying for jobs using your resume is a recipe for a long bout of unemployment. Generally accepted statistics demonstrate that only 20% of all jobs are filled via job boards and newspaper ads. And of that 20% the majority of the time the hiring manager knows who they want to hire before the posting goes up. The other 80% of jobs are filled through networking with friends, family, current or former co-workers, or through extended professional networking through LinkedIn and professional organizations.
One page biography
This is where the concept of a one page biography or bio, for short, comes into play. The bio is the document that you can most leverage during your networking activities – and if networking is the key approach needed to land one of the 80% of jobs that are not filled through traditional job posting channels, and then doesn’t it stand to reason that a bio should be a more important tool? Remember, a resume is best utilized when you are applying for a specific job. A bio is best used to convey your background in a crisp narrative format before, during or after your networking meetings.
You may be thinking, “Why can’t I just use my resume during my networking meetings?” Good question. Probably the biggest reason is that a bio speaks much more about your reputation, attributes, tone and makeup than a resume does. Written in the third person and without the rigid structure of a resume, you bio is much more readable and conversational than a resume. Another reason is because your networking partner may equate seeing your resume with applying for a job and they most likely will not have a job for you at the present time. When a networking partner feels like they can’t help you, they may recoil and not provide you with the resources you were hoping to gain from the conversation. Another reason for not providing a resume during networking sessions is because networking partners may get sidetracked wanting to provide you with resume feedback.
So, the bio gives you an opportunity to explain a bit about yourself in a disarming, easy to read format. Because of the way you’ll construct the bio, it also allows you to convey more and different information about yourself then you could ever do with a resume.
OK, so now you agree that a bio is an important tool in your arsenal. How do you go about building one? Keep in mind that you want to write this in the third person and don’t be bashful!
How to write one
First, you’ll want to start with a summary which states your name, basic profession and what your experience and expertise is. Second, you’ll want to add career highlights and significant accomplishments. Third, let people know what you are known for. Fourth, don’t forget your education and other credentials and fifth, feel free to sprinkle in a few of your hobbies and interests (as long as they are not polarizing hobbies!). You’re welcomed to review my bio as a sample. It can be downloaded here.
Now that you have written your bio, you are ready to utilize it during your networking discussions and you have document that you can also use for speaking engagements, press releases and other related announcements.
More reading at 8 Steps To Writing a Bio Like a Pro.
Matthew Levy is a well-rounded HR professional and Career Coach with fifteen years of broad experience in both specialist (e.g., recruiting) and generalist (e.g., HR business partner) roles at blue-chip companies, including Merck, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson.