How to Create a Marvelous Bio for Your Job Search

As air sustains life for living creatures, professional biographies (or bios) sustain careers for responsible jobs. A bio — often called an online bio — is a brief but focused account of a person’s life. It is reflective of an individual’s brand. Sometimes a branding statement and a bio are virtually interchangeable.

Generally, most online bios are pint-size accounts, compared to the usually longer format of online profiles. But not always. Like beauty, whether you’re writing an online bio or an online profile is in the eye of the beholder.

You may be surprised by how useful bios have become. They pop up everywhere — from social networking sites, blogs, company and personal websites, and job boards to book covers, association membership pages, speech introductions, and job interview leave-behind documents.

A bio is sometimes called an online executive bio, online executive summary, or online executive brief; but by any name, the bios are used to advance employment or business objectives. Bios often include a link to a full profile or resume, but they usually omit a photo.

What can you do when you’re filing a resume in a large bureaucratic system and fear it won’t be seen by the right decision maker? Federal job expert Kathryn Troutman encourages her clients to e-mail a short executive bio as an introduction letter to a federal agency hiring manager and to confirm by postscript that a full resume is available in the official federal system.

Four more bio tips

Before you take keyboard in hand and begin pounding out your bio, consider these pointers, which, when followed, set you up to be perceived as outstanding:

  • Read scads of bios. Do this research before you write your own bio. New ideas pop up every 15 minutes, or so it seems.

  • Mention your accomplishments. Repeat: Mention your accomplishments. For example, include your experience in solving specific problems, or how you made or saved money for a previous employer.

  • Spell the words in your bio kurrectly. Beyond familiar warnings that sloppy is as sloppy spells, today’s nearly universal use of keywords in computerized recruiting systems has upped the ante. Incorrectly spelled keywords may not turn up in a system that uses older software. By any measure, “A misspell don’t sell.”

  • Keep track of all the online places where you have posted your bio. You’ll probably want to update it from time to time. And if one day the urge to dramatically shift career gears hits you (for instance, to change your occupation from nursing assistant to truck driver), you’ll want to replace your yesteryear bio with a whole new bio.

What bios look like

Bios can be created in a no-frills editorial style, as the first six samples illustrate, or dressed up with graphic design, as displayed in the last three samples.

[Credit: Debbie Ellis, MRW, Phoenix Career Group — Houston, Texas]
Credit: Debbie Ellis, MRW, Phoenix Career Group — Houston, Texas

Watch what you say

Never in history has so much information been available about so many people. And the information is for all eyes on publicly accessible websites. Corporations use profile information to specifically market products to you. Identity thieves use profile information to rob you. Think before posting.

[Credit: Kathryn Troutman — Catonsville, Md.]
Credit: Kathryn Troutman — Catonsville, Md.

 

[Credit: Linda Tancs — Hillsborough, N.J.]
Credit: Linda Tancs — Hillsborough, N.J.

 

[Credit: Kathryn Troutman — Catonsville, Md.]
Credit: Kathryn Troutman — Catonsville, Md.

 

[Credit: Debbie Ellis, MRW, Phoenix Career Group — Houston, Texas]
Credit: Debbie Ellis, MRW, Phoenix Career Group — Houston, Texas

 

[Credit: Tamara Dowling, CPRW — Valencia, Calif.]
Credit: Tamara Dowling, CPRW — Valencia, Calif.

 

[Credit: Barb Poole, CCMC, CLTMC, CMRW, CPRW, PHR — Maple Grove, Minn.]
Credit: Barb Poole, CCMC, CLTMC, CMRW, CPRW, PHR — Maple Grove, Minn.

 

[Credit: Tanya Sinclair, CHRP, MCRS — Pickering, Ontario, Canada]
Credit: Tanya Sinclair, CHRP, MCRS — Pickering, Ontario, Canada

 

[Credit: Art Frank — Flat Rock, N.C.]
Credit: Art Frank — Flat Rock, N.C.

 

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