Business Bios - a Résumé Alternative
by Marcia Yudkin
Learn how to
write a bio and how a bio differs from a
Once in a while I
get a panicky call from a business owner
pursuing a promising business deal:
"So-and-so asked for my résumé. I haven't
used one in twenty years. Help!"
If you find yourself in that
predicament, relax. Chances are what you really
need is a business bio, something much easier
than a résumé to assemble.
A résumé has a schematic
structure designed so that employers can quickly
scan it. Conventionally, it presents your work
history, education, skills and other
qualifications chronologically. Omissions stick
out, and a resume is supposed to offer a
complete portrait of your past. The older, more
enterprising and more multi-dimensional you are,
however, the more this format turns into a
With Powerful, Easy-to-Apply Guidelines
Learn how to get your point across in
one page or how to satisfy a strict word
count for magazine or newsletter
editors. Find out how to identify and
cut repetition, eliminate excess
verbiage, make your point fast and
convey a wealth of facts in a small
space. My longwinded clients asked for
this! Become more
Unlike a résumé, which lists
isolated facts, a business bio tells a story. A
bio takes the form of a paragraph, or two or
three, that portrays who you are and what you've
done. It tosses completeness and chronology to
the wind and includes only what is relevant to
your story. Think of a business bio as the sort
of blurb about you that might appear on the back
inside flap of a book jacket, if you were an
A bio should begin with an
overview statement, which provides a big-picture
summary of your unique combination of skills and
experience. Then you furnish the most pertinent
facts that round out the picture. These two
abbreviated examples should give you a clearer
idea. Notice how they offer just enough detail
to make claims believable and concrete.
- MaryAnn Gerhardt's twenty-two years of
design experience encompass media ranging
from print to outdoor signage to television.
As the owner of Gerhardt Design, she works
with clients to create, extend and change
corporate identities. Trained in
illustration at the New York Museum School,
she has received no less than seventeen
awards for client work, three gallery
exhibitions and scores of mentions in
national publications. Gerhardt lives and
works in a Victorian mansion that she
redesigned and that also serves as a
showcase for her work.
Harold Wen has been called
"a lifesaver," "a miracle
worker" and "a revival
artist" for his ability to revive
companies near death. His 37 years in
finance, marketing and operations give him
an unusually broad base of experience with
which to diagnose and remedy a company's
problems. Clients run the gamut from food
processing firms and family farms to Fortune
Before you trash your résumé
in favor of a bio, I should add that a few
situations do call for the traditional
schematic, chronological format. In a
competitive bidding situation, if a call for
proposals specifies a "résumé,"
you'd better provide one. Second, universities
expect to see the rigorous outline of a resume
even when they've asked you to lecture there
because of your unconventional achievements.
Europe and in the academic world, by the way, résumés go by the Latin term, "curriculum
vitae" - "c.v." for short.
Copyright 2009 Marcia Yudkin.
All rights reserved.
sample "before and after" makeover of a bio.
more about how to "spin" information
when you write your bio.
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