Did you realize an executive biography can be an integral part of your job search?
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.
But don’t resort to the tired opening, “James has served as the IT Director of XYZ Company for 6 years” in your 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 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:
As the CFO for XYZ Company, Jason has taken on all the accounting and financial functions, quickly spearheading capital raising efforts that boosted the firm’s line of revolving credit by $25M in support of 300% projected growth.
However, there are times it can make sense to write a narrative that starts at the beginning of your career. This is especially true if you’ve risen up in the same company for a number of years, and you want to show how your early work affected your career trajectory:
Routinely selected for promotions due to his ability to create operations improvements, Ted began his career at ABC Corporation in field sales, where he quickly achieved 140% of quota in the first year.
2 – Wrap your job search goals throughout your bio.
Like your resume, your biography should be written to show forward-projecting capabilities, with a message that tells employers what you can do for them in the future.
This opening sentence for a leadership biography (for a candidate targeting an executive role in an investor portfolio company) shows how your career goals can be stated alongside your past accomplishments:
Frank Wilson, a former GM and VP of Sales for profitable ventures, holds a record of revenue growth and innovation that took companies from the idea stage through expansion, assisting investors to create go-to market strategies and lead successful exits.
3 – Weave your philosophy and approach into the story.
A bio gives you the chance to inject your personality, work style, and even your legacy into career search documents – allowing employers insight into what motivates you.
An executive biography can also spell out the reasons why your leadership approach has been successful in generating profits, as shown in this excerpt:
A believer in open and transparent communications among employees, Sarah has created an environment that facilitated a 100% increase in gross income year-over-year, with top-notch staff motivated to outperform competing companies.
So, take a creative approach when writing your career biography – allowing yourself freedom from the confines of a traditional resume, and injecting some colorful language that shows the reasons for your ROI as a candidate.
Writing your resume to attract the attention you deserve?
One of the best resume branding techniques (that can escape your notice even if you review executive resume samples) is changing resume section headings for greater impact.
An easy way to reinforce your personal brand message, descriptive headings give your reader a heads-up on the value of your experience, education, or achievements.
Classic headings, of course, are important for getting your resume past automated systems (see Making Your Resume Format Machine-Friendly for tips). However, you’ll also need HUMAN readers to take note of your qualifications.
Use these ideas to jumpstart creative thinkingfor each section of your resume, with branded, innovative headings that hammer home your promise of value:
Your Professional Experience.
There’s no law that requires your experience to be contained in a section called Work History.
What about Sales Achievements and Performance or Technical Leadership Experience? Why not try Operations Management Expertise if your focus is a new role in manufacturing production or within a call center?
This TORI award-winning Chief Marketing Officer resume uses Marketing Career Progression to describe professional experience.
This technique is especially effective if you’re trying to direct attention toward a specific part of your experience, helping connect disparate parts of your career to the role you’re targeting.
Your Career Achievements.
Unfortunately, Selected Career Highlights has somehow become the standard for a first-page grouping of accomplishments on a resume.
Here, however, is where you can quickly switch things up for added interest, as shown by these example headings:
Technology and Business Leadership is a powerful heading if you’re aiming for an IT executive role, such as Program Manager, IT Director, VP Technology, or CIO
Examples of Analytical Leadership works well if you’re pursuing an insurance industry or operations role
To create a unique heading for your achievements, wrap a keyword or desired result into the heading title, then add a focus on results.
This sample resume for a CFO uses Capital Administration, Strategic Planning, & Executive Leadership Highlights to represent career high points.
Other heading examples include:
Presales Revenue & Account Wins for a technical sales engineer
Scientific & Performance Benchmarks for achievements in R&D
Your Professional Education or Training.
Even if you haven’t completed a degree program,University Education or College Studies can serve as section heading titles.
Professional Sales Development also works well if you’re a sales candidate who has completed top-flight courses (think Anthony Robbins, Miller-Heiman, etc.) related to closing, consultative selling, and other successful techniques – degree or no degree.
You can also group unrelated educational experiences into Specialized Training or Technology Concepts Studied, providing a cohesive message about the relevance of your professional development activities.
In summary, rethink the classic “parts” of your resume, using customized section headings as part of your brand message.
Keeping your audience interested and engaged is crucial! Attract them with a strong message of value – repeated and reinforced throughout your resume – and your job search can be shortened considerably.
“Growth in hosting service – saving company from bankruptcy 3 times. Margin expansion to 70% ($4M revenue). Reversal of 6 years’ stagnant growth by targeting high-value NGO, mobile, CPG, and government clients.”
If any of these situations apply to your career, be sure to describe background detail when noting the scope of your achievements. The ability to gain results in these scenarios is highly sought after within the executive suite.
3 – Compare yourself to leadership peers.
Comparative analysis is one of the best ways to frame and express executive achievement, which helps to highlight your unique brand value against your competition.
For example, you might have brought in changes that were critical to company growth or customer perception – with bottom-line results. Look at each job for evidence of the following:
New operational procedures that saved time or money
Comparisons to your predecessor in the same role
Performance measurements against colleagues with the same job title and function
Industry comparisons for others in a similar role
Here, you’ll want to ensure that the comparisons made are clearly conveyed on your resume, as in this example taken from a VP Business Development resume:
“Record achievement – including 56% total company revenue since 2016 from sound relationship cultivation and quick grasp of market needs; bested peer business development managers by 100%.”
If you were specifically recruited because of the results you could deliver (and surpassed other candidates in the hiring process), be sure to note this in your executive resume.
Putting yourself out there in the executive job market requires careful thought and analysis of your brand value – an exercise that will help before you even start to write your executive resume.
Take the time to assess what you offer against your competition, and you could not only shorten your leadership job search, but find a better fit at your next employer.
Using LinkedIn for your job search? You might have assumed, as many others do, that your mere presence on the site is enough to make your Profile findable by employers and recruiters.
However, the key information used in some LinkedIn Profile fields can actually make a huge difference in the way employers become aware of your qualifications.
Specifically, your Headline is prime LinkedIn real estate—critical to the marketing and search optimization methods that might be used by recruiters to locate you when they search for candidates.
Here’s how it works: As a quick identifier, your Headline should be tuned to not only your job level, but your goal, enabling LinkedIn’s internal search engine to do its job more efficiently.
When you first populate your Profile, LinkedIn will ask if you’d prefer to use your current job title as the Headline. Even if you respond with “Yes,” you can (and should) take the time to update your Headline to a branded representation of your job target and value to employers—filling up as many of the 220 characters allowed as possible.
To change your Headline, click on the Profile option at the top of your Home Page, then choose Edit Profile. In the area that lists your name, select Edit to change your Headline.
Consider the following examples when tuning your Headline for greater searchability and relevance to your job goals: (more…)
Among the World’s Top Resume & LinkedIn Writing Experts
“As In-House Counsel for a Fortune 1000 company, I retained Laura to revamp my resume. As a result of her attention to detail, Laura was able to highlight my broad skill set, with a product worthy of my accomplishments.
I highly recommend Laura to all others who want to get on the fast track to success.”
“As an executive in transition… I vigorously endorse Laura and her work. After many hours of speaking with me, she crafted an amazing new rebranded set of credentials.
I am still astonished at how someone who has not known me for 20 years could define my brand so succinctly.”
Chris Dancy, Global Technology Executive
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Chief Information Officer Resume
Marketing Executive Biography
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