Green is the new black. Hipsters are the new yuppies. And the days are numbered for the traditional resume as we morph into the age of the online bio. In a world where the average house cat can become a social media sensation, job seekers are finding that a traditional resume just won’t cut it anymore. HR departments are becoming more tech-savvy than ever as the recruiting environment becomes a digital battlefield. Sure, potential candidates still post their resumes to online job boards like Monster or Indeed but that is only the beginning. Hiring managers don’t just rely on your list of references to verify your skills and experience, they Google you. They don’t want to read a boring list of notable achievements. They want to get to know you and find a connection between you and the person they envision being the perfect fit for their open position. They want your bio.
Writing a bio is just telling your story. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Edit out the fluff: A bio doesn’t have to be full of clever, witty fluff like some you may have read. Also steer clear of being too stuffy and boring or coming across as self-righteous (that’s just obnoxious). Find a way to present who you are and what you’ve done with you as the storyteller. Invite the reader to understand your back-story (when relevant) and they are more likely to recognize ways that they can connect with you and embrace your ideas and point of view. You become more approachable. Now, the reader knows that you have something to offer and they can connect the dots as to how that something will benefit their business.
Say goodbye to buzzwords and bullet points: Your bio should be 2-3 paragraphs long. Giving abbreviated examples paints a clear picture of the story you are trying to convey. No hiring manager ever got the a fuzzy feeling by reading the phrase “voted employee of the month.” But, tell them the story of how the title of “employee of the month” was nice but it was all worth it to see the homeless kids opening the holiday gifts made possible by the community project you spearheaded in your last role. Keeping it simple and omitting irrelevant facts makes your bio more believable and less like you’re adding filler topics so that you use a full page of paper (like the business fraternity you belonged to in college, yeah right).
Google yourself: Include aspects of your life that an HR manager might find if they do an internet search for your name. This way there are no misunderstandings that could count you out before you even know they are interested. It will also be easier to connect the extracurricular activities you post on your social media accounts to your professional skills and make you a more desirable candidate.
Clearly the need to brand ourselves isn’t a new concept but the importance of the bio is growing at warp speed. I don’t suggest you ditch your resume all together, not yet anyway. But in this job market it is crucial to be a step ahead of the game and having a bio is the best place to start. Just think, you may never have to buy that expensive resume paper again.