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Your resume, LinkedIn profile and biography are the most important pieces of content in your job search arsenal.
But many executive don’t know how to write and use them in the best ways.
These three pieces overlap in some regards, but are distinctly unique in other ways.
Let’s take a look at the differences and similarities.
Your executive resume is probably the first piece you’ll write. If you already have one, you’ll need to take a hard look at it.
It’s probably time to stop tweaking your old-fashioned resume and start fresh.
Most executives don’t know how to write an executive resume for today’s job search.
All too often I see resumes that look and read like the ones I was writing 15-20 years ago.
If you’re sticking to a resume with the same look and kind of content you’ve been using for decades, you’re probably in trouble.
People assessing you through your resume may peg you as older right off the bat, and that could increase your chances of experiencing age discrimination.
It’s time to modernize your resume for today’s job search.
You need to be willing to rewrite and ruthlessly edit your outdated resume, to make it work for you, or just start from scratch.
Focus it as much as possible on specific employers and roles, so that the content will resonate with people assessing you.
And it needs to contain specific information about you, your accomplishments and the value you offer.
The more clearly recruiters and hiring managers can see that you’re a good hiring choice, the more likely you’ll be called in for an interview.
The only way to set yourself up to do these things is to start with the following . . . before writing your resume (or LinkedIn profile or biography):
- Targeting – Identify companies that will meet your career goals, and whose business goals you will help meet.
- Research – Learn about each of those companies and determine current pain points or problems of theirs that you’re uniquely qualified to help them with.
- Personal Branding – Define and differentiate the personal qualities, skill sets and qualifications that you rely on to achieve positive results for your employers.
Remember these things about today’s executive resume
Keep these things in mind as you do the initial targeting, research and personal branding work, and then as you do the writing:
- A resume is a personal marketing document, not just a career history.
- The things about you that make you a good fit for your target employers drive the resume content.
- Generate chemistry in your resume. Use storytelling to make it an interesting read and give a feel for your personality.
- To better tell your story and help people connect with the content, write in implied first person (without using “I” or “me”).
- Worry less about the length of your resume, and more about not including arbitrary information. But don’t go overboard. Two to three pages is recommended.
- Create an attractively formatted resume for human eyeballs, plus an ATS-friendly version for databases.
- Make sure your resume contains enough of the right keywords and phrases.
Different employers may need different resumes
You will probably have several different resumes, depending on which employer(s) you’re using it for, and what content needs to be provided to position yourself as a good fit.
You need to address specific challenges or problems each employer is having that you’ll help them fix. (Your cover letters will address these issues even more specifically.)
Your informational interviews and research on target employers will uncover information about challenges they’re facing.
Include links to your social media channels
A resume without links to your social media accounts (especially LinkedIn) marks you as a dinosaur. If you hesitate adding a link to any social media because you’re not active on them, you need to GET active on them.
Candidates who are more social media savvy and up-to-date with the new world of work are more highly prized.
Also include links to recent relevant articles or white papers of yours, descriptions of certifications/credentials you’ve earned, and other relevant information about you online.
Your resume needs to sync with your LinkedIn profile
Your resume needs to work in tandem with your LinkedIn profile.
They both need to be focused on the same target employers. You’ll confuse people if you send them a resume that focuses on areas of expertise that don’t match what they see in your LinkedIn profile.
And take advantage of the fact that you can include lots more information in your LinkedIn profile than you reasonably can in your resume. Cross reference from your resume to your LinkedIn profile.
Refer people to your LinkedIn profile for more information about particular items you don’t have enough room to fully describe in your resume. For instance, if you’ve compellingly described an important project at length within a “Projects” section of your LinkedIn profile, briefly mention it in your resume and include a link to your profile.
LinkedIn allows for a lot more content than a reasonably long resume. Load your LinkedIn profile with as much relevant content as you can.
That means using every applicable profile section and adding as much content as space allows.
Your LinkedIn profile may be the first thing people will see about you, before you ever send them your resume. If recruiters and hiring managers are looking for candidates like you for jobs they need to fill, you may show up when they search LinkedIn and other search engines.
Your resume is obviously a flat document, but your LinkedIn profile is a vibrant multi-media showcase for your unique value-add.
- You can (and should) add video and various other visuals to attract attention and position yourself as up-to-date with social media.
- You can (and should) proactively use all the features and activities available (posting updates, publishing articles, commenting/reacting to others’ posts and articles, etc.)
LinkedIn is THE place for job search networking. They offer all kinds of ways to connect and communicate with all kinds of people who can help you meet your career goals.
How your LinkedIn profile and resume will be similar
Both your LinkedIn profile and resume:
- Are organized in reverse chronology, with the most recent positions listed first.
- Should use storytelling to communicate your personal brand to generate chemistry and be interesting to read.
- Need to position you as a good fit for the employers and roles you’re targeting.
- Should include relevant professional experience (with dates) and education.
You only have one LinkedIn profile
Although you’ll likely have several somewhat different resumes to use, you’ll have just one LinkedIn profile.
Therefore it needs to be more generic than your resumes because different potential employers, with different problems you’ll help them fix will see it.
Remember your profile is online for all to see, unlike your resume and bio. You’ll decide where and who to send those documents to.
That means that you should be careful about putting certain metrics and other sensitive information in your LinkedIn profile. But you can include them in your resume.
If you’re job hunting under cover, you’ll need to take precautions to keep your search confidential.
For instance, since anyone (including your current employer) can see your profile, you’ll need to have a ready explanation for why you’re suddenly active on LinkedIn, with a robust profile.
You need a professional photo of yourself
If you think that HAVING a photo on your LinkedIn profile (and elsewhere online) may red-flag you for discrimination – age, weight, ethnic background, etc. – think again.
NOT having a profile photo can be a red flag, too, and can sabotage your chances to land a great-fit job.
Think about the recruiters and hiring decision makers at your target companies who click through to your LinkedIn profile.
The first thing they’ll notice is your photo . . . or lack of one. If you have no photo, their initial thought will likely be “What is this person trying to hide?”
One of the strategies you should be using with your LinkedIn profile is branding yourself to differentiate the qualifications and qualities you possess from your competitors. Branding is also about creating emotional connections.
People connect easier and believe content more when it’s accompanied by the author’s photo. They’re more likely to reach out to someone when they can “see” the person. Your photo helps to personalize and humanize your brand-driven content.
Pay attention to keywords
Perhaps even more so than with your resume and biography, keywords play an important role in your LinkedIn profile.
If you want executive recruiters and your target employers to find you on LinkedIn, you need to draw them to your profile through the relevant keywords and phrases they search to source candidates like you.
Strategically placed and with the right keyword density, relevant keywords elevate your search rankings in LinkedIn’s search engine, increasing your profile’s SEO and significantly boosting the likelihood you’ll be found and considered by them.
The content in certain sections – typically those that sit higher on the web page containing your profile – rank highest with LinkedIn’s search algorithm.
Make sure these top-of-the-page profile sections are load with the right keywords – profile headline, your name (where you can add certifications to your last name), Featured section, job titles, and the About section.
And don’t forget to carefully populate the Skills & Endorsements section, which is custom-made for relevant keywords.
Include your volunteer work and community involvement
These things help people see that you’re a well-rounded person who gives back. And it will help you build connections.
Your personal activities or hobbies don’t belong on your resume, but on your LinkedIn profile they can be door-openers and conversation starters.
Career Brand Biography
You’ll use and distribute your biography differently than your resume.
A biography is storytelling vehicle. It can breathe life into an otherwise flat rehash of your resume. It’s an opportunity to reinforce your brand in a way that’s more difficult to accomplish within the resume structure and strategy.
What a biography does better than a resume
Here’s how a biography takes things beyond what a resume can do:
- Showcases your leadership and management acumen through softer skills and “good fit” attributes. And links them to your value proposition.
- Personalizes your career stories and uses them to reinforce your brand attributes and key strengths.
- Generates chemistry around how you use your key personal attributes, passions, strengths, and motivated skills to benefit employers.
- Helps employers connect with you and envision you on the job, having a positive impact.
Your bio, resume and LinkedIn profile are the foundation for a successful job search. The three work in tandem to promote the unique value you offer and provide people assessing you the social proof they need.
When I’m creating LinkedIn profiles for clients, I use pieces from both their resumes and bios, mixing it up a bit to distinguish profiles from each other, and provide additional info in each.
Similarities between your biography and your resume and LinkedIn profile
- Like with your LinkedIn profile, it’s okay to include some personal information (hobbies, volunteer work, community involvement, etc.).
- Include your professional headshot at the top, like you did with your LinkedIn profile.
- Be mindful of page length, like you are with your resume. A bio is usually no more than one page, and may be only a few paragraphs.
- All 3 rely on storytelling to help people connect to your unique value-add.
Differences between your biography and your resume and LinkedIn profile
- You probably won’t include all your past roles, and you typically won’t include dates.
- You may not set it up in reverse chronology.
- Bios are typically written in third person perspective, to sound like someone else is writing (and perhaps bragging) about you.
Transform your biography from bland to brand-solid
Pack a punch in the first paragraph.
Compel readers to want to continue to the end. Capture attention by leading with your brand positioning statement, or a quote from an industry celebrity or subject matter expert.
Or compose a quote of your own 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. In this instance, it’s okay to switch to first person perspective and use “I” or “me”.
Or, you can be more personal by beginning your bio with a story about what led you to your career choice.
Format the document for visual appeal and ease in reading.
Break up long, dense paragraphs into 2 or 3 smaller ones to add more white space, drawing readers’ eyes down the page and compelling them to read the entire document or web page, if it’s an online profile.
One eye-catching technique is to include high-impact sub-headings throughout, which is also an opportunity to build in more relevant keywords. I used this strategy in my own brand bio, which I used for my website About page.
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