3 Tips to Writing a Strong Career Biography

Executive Biography WritingA career biography as a job search document is nothing new; employers and recruiters have often reviewed bios as a part of a leadership or executive portfolio.

In fact, don’t be surprised if you’re asked for an executive biography when submitting your resume.

However, you don’t want to resort to the tired, “James has served as the IT Director of XYZ Company for 6 years” type of bio.

Instead, power up your biography with these writing techniques – creating a vibrant, clearly written narrative of your leadership career that demands attention:

1 – Summarize your work history – but consider where to start.

Many leadership biographies are designed to spell out your career chronology by starting with your current role.

This is because when you’re aiming for either a level up, you’ll want to grab the reader with a potent description of your authority and relevant achievements, as in this excerpt from a CFO bio: Continue reading

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Executive Resume

Spent hours writing your resume… believing that each keyword or phrase gets analyzed for meaning?

Think again. Employers rarely scrutinize resumes for pertinent detail, and instead rely on a quick scan to make an interviewing decision.

So how WILL your leadership resume be reviewed?

Read on for the truth about how your resume is used in the hiring process, plus strategies to get the attention your career deserves:

1 – Some audiences are overwhelmed by your full resume.

Ever handed your resume to a CEO? You’ll find out pretty quickly that many high-ranking executives don’t have the interest level or attention span to read it. Continue reading

Executive Job Hunting? You’ll Need More Than a Resume

If you’re an executive planning your next career move, it might surprise you to learn that you’ll be judged by more than just your resume during your job search.

In other words, a full resume is NOT necessarily the best fit for every job search contact.

Surprised? You’ll find that recruiters, company owners, Boards of Directors, and other hiring decision-makers often look at your experience through a series of interviews and investigations—which means that your executive resume is just one part of the process.

Here are 4 must-have documents for an executive portfolio designed to capture attention at all the right levels—along with recommendations for the timing of each component:

1 – Executive Biography.
A short, narrative-form document, the Biography often appeals to readers that are not engaged in the technical detail of a full resume.

The best readers for an Executive Biography are usually networking contacts (who are easily overwhelmed by a full resume) or Boards of Directors (who typically interview you in the later stages of the hiring process).

2 – LinkedIn Profile.
While not technically a “document” created just for job hunting, your LinkedIn Profile is a critical—and often underutilized—piece of an executive portfolio.

Most executives set up a Profile very quickly and then abandon it, becoming preoccupied with their work, which is a costly job-hunting mistake.

Your LinkedIn Profile may actually be the first piece of information encountered by a recruiter. Therefore, it must be polished, professional, and keyword-heavy (to aid others in finding you through LinkedIn’s search engine).

3 – Cover Letter.
Despite the myth that hiring authorities rarely read cover letters, some audiences (company owners, CEOs, and Presidents) might not even glance at your resume until they’ve fully digested the contents of your letter.

These groups are usually probing for leadership abilities that they feel are more evident within the letter. Investors, in particular, like to read a very short, bottom-line value proposition letter, in lieu of a resume.

In short, don’t write off a cover letter as an important document in the hiring process, as you might find that it was this part of your portfolio that influenced an interviewing decision.

4 – Full Resume.
Not a month goes by when a social media or recruiting expert poses the question, “Is the resume dead?” No, the need for a resume won’t go away soon. You’ll absolutely be asked to send your resume to many contacts at different stages of your search.

No matter who reads it, an executive resume serves as the centerpiece of your presentation, and therefore must convince employers of your brand, value proposition, and leadership standing—no small feat.

Often, the best readers of a full resume will those that thrive on analytical detail (such as operations or technology executives hiring EVP and Director-level candidates).

In summary, an executive portfolio is a must for serious job hunters ready to assume a leadership role. The days of distributing an executive resume without backup in the form of a Executive Biography, LinkedIn Profile, or Cover letter are gone.

Your job search will be smoother, faster, and more effective with a well-rounded and branded portfolio that appeals to the diverse audiences you’ll encounter.

Need a competitive edge for your executive job search?

As the #1 U.S. TORI award-winning executive resume writer, I create branded, powerful resumes and LinkedIn Profiles that position you as the #1 candidate – PLUS arm you with the job search tools that will get you hired faster.

My clients win interviews at Fortune 500 firms including Citibank, Google, Disney, and Pfizer, plus niche-market companies, start-ups, and emerging industry leaders.

Get in touch with me to experience the outstanding results my expertise can bring to your transition.

– Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CPBA, TCCS, COPNS, CIC 

Want Stronger Results? Try a Networking Resume

Trying to engage high-level decision-makers in your job search? Planning to contact recruiters or network during business meetings?

You might find that these audiences quickly become overwhelmed with reading your full executive resume—or that a multi-page document is simply too much to handle in a busy networking situation.
The solution? A Networking Resume—a powerful sound bite that encapsulates your career in a single page and gets more traction in your search by supplying a quick picture of your bottom-line brand value.
Also called a Marketing Brief or Networking Biography, this single-page document allows you to zero in on what you want, while hitting the high points of your career. It’s especially useful for job hunters in the midst of person-to-person contact who want to avoid the hassle of tracking multiple sheets of paper.

Best of all, a Networking Resume is fairly simple to construct, especially after you’ve invested significant branding effort into writing your full-fledged executive resume. (See this example of a Networking Resume for a CEO & CEO candidate.)

Here are 5 easy steps to take when condensing your leadership expertise down into a potent, single-page marketing tool:

1 – Skip the job descriptions.

There’s no room for lengthy explanations of teams led, budgets managed, and so forth. Instead, you’ll want to pull out some results-focused stories from your work history or a bullet-point executive accomplishment list that reflects the high points of your career.

2 – Distill your career into just titles, dates, and companies.

A Work History section on your Networking Resume will present just the facts of each job in your career, and believe it or not, this can be very effective.

Often, recruiters will be skimming for progression in your background, and writing a short summary of your job titles can quickly demonstrate promotions and the increasing level of responsibility required for a leadership position.

3 – Give your success stories a label and some context.

The best part about writing a Networking Resume or Biography? Giving more detail on highlights of your work, using full sentences that pack in metrics and tell a well-rounded story.

While these items should be featured on a full resume, they rarely will be allowed the same breathing room. Consider fleshing out each Challenge-Action-Result story, highlighting up to 3 achievements.

4 – Write a branding tagline that speaks to results.

If you’ve been able to make significant impact as an executive, here’s the place to show it. Break your brand message down into a straightforward and condensed headline that describes how you get results (as shown here).

Struggling with this step? Keep condensing it, taking out words and refining the tagline until you have a powerful sentence that conveys impact. Here are some ideas:

Turning Around Challenged IT Organizations by Building Loyal, Productive Teams
Generating 650%+ Revenue Increase Through Competitive Market Strategies

5 – Sum up your education and board affiliations.

Boil your educational background down into just a few lines, using common abbreviations for degrees, states, universities, etc.

You’ll also want to cut to the chase on professional associations, speaking engagements, and volunteer affiliations; use the organization’s initials to conserve space; list keynotes with the word “Speaker,” followed by the name of the organization.
Now, you’re prepared to give a snapshot of your professional background and executive abilities to recruiters and hiring authorities, without worrying about information overload or excess paper.
You’ll still need a full resume for interviews, of course, but your new Networking Resume can serve as a value-packed, concise introduction to decision-makers.