C-level Executive Career Biography or Resume, Which Comes First?

by Meg Guiseppi on June 9, 2009

The simple answer: either one can come first or they can come at the same time.

You know that you’re more than likely being Googled by recruiters and hiring decision makers before they approach you. Whatever they find out about you online may be their first introduction to you.

Your brand-solid career bio and resume work together as the foundation for your online presence, positioning your unique promise of value over your competition. A strong e-brand can make the difference between digital distinction and digital anemia.

Leverage your resume and bio to create your LinkedIn and other social networking profiles, Google profile, online career portfolio of documents, personal website, blog, etc. These online brand identity-building tools should land on the first page of search results for “your name”. Exactly what you want people vetting candidates like you to see will be what they find first.

Another thing to consider is that 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 cycle.

The value of your career bio extends beyond job search. It can become your “About” page on your blog and/or website. Bios are essential introductions for speaking engagements. You can also encapsulate your full bio into a tidy one-paragraph mini-bio to include when you guest blog,  write articles or white papers, or publish anything online or offline.

My advice is to pull together both your bio and resume while you’re working on personal branding. If you need help developing branding and your resume, you’ll find what you need here:

10 Steps to Uncovering and Building Your Authentic Personal Brand

Think Like an Executive Resume Branding Expert

For help in creating your executive brand bio, here’s a taste of some of the questions from the worksheet I use with my clients:

1.  What are 3 or 4 defining moments for you as your career progressed?

2.  In what ways has your life been admirable?

3.  How have adversity and challenges made you stronger?

4.  What are the two or three most important lessons you learned along the way that others could benefit from?

5.  Have you been a hero or mentor to others?

Some important tips to move your career bio from bland to brand-solid:

Pack a punch in the first paragraph

Compel readers to want to continue to the end. Capture attention with your leadership brand, or lead with a quote from an industry celebrity or subject matter expert. Or even add a quote from yourself that encapsulates your brand value — it could be something that others tell you you’re always saying — or a direct quote about you from someone you’ve worked with.

Leverage story telling to crystallize your unique promise of value

In a narrative format usually written in third person, your bio provides supporting evidence backing up your value proposition and helps readers understand how you make things happen. Story telling conjures up the impact you’ll have on their organization and helps them envision you in the position they’re trying to fill.

Make it a good read!

The writing should come from your own voice and follow a consistent theme reinforcing your brand attributes. For instance, if you’re known for cleaning up problems, weave that driving skill throughout your mini-career stories.

Add high-impact subheadings throughout

Break up dense copy, add more white space, and draw the reader down through the document. I followed this innovation in my own career-branding bio.

Include a sneak peek into your family life

Definitely write about your community involvement and any volunteering activities. The commitment to giving back is an important trait for any leader worth her or his salt.

At the end of your bio, talk about your spouse and children noting briefly what they’re doing. Talk about your leisure passions and hobbies. Often your key brand attributes come into play when you pursue these activities. Your favorite pastimes can spark interest from those who share them.

You can see how executive branding and career story telling come together in a career bio for my CEO – Global Operations Management client.

As with all your career marketing communications, if this kind of writing is beyond your capabilities, turn to a professional. Maybe we should talk about collaborating?

Related post:

Best of the Best C-Level Executive Branding & Job Search Strategies

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jill June 10, 2009 at 8:38 am

Love the photo and what a great blog post! Very informative and helpful for executive job seekers to understand how important branding is in terms of career management and visibility.

2 Meg Guiseppi June 10, 2009 at 8:53 am

Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Jill.

My c-suite clients are “getting” the value of personal branding these days. They know that a boring career bio that simply rehashes what’s in their resume, and doesn’t provide a glimpse into who they are, just won’t do much for them in this job market.


3 Catarina Alexon June 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Hello Meg

Great article. How would you get my bio into my blog? Am new to blogging and learning step by step and good ideas from you would be welcome since you obviously know what you are talking about.

Many thanks and

All the best
Catarina Alexon

4 Meg Guiseppi July 1, 2009 at 8:13 am

Thanks for commenting, Catarina. I’m glad my article was helpful. I quickly visited your blog, and noticed there is no “About” page. Your career bio, or a customized version of it, can become that page.

Let me know if you’d like to talk about working together on your personal branding and career bio. Get the details about Executive Career Services here — http://executiveresumebranding.com/executive-resumes-personal-branding-career-services/


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