How To Paint A Vivid Picture Of Yourself On Your Job Application

Don't let your first impression fall flat

Photo composite by Mariya Pylayev/AOL; Getty Images


By Arnie Fertig

One of the hardest communications lessons you might have to understand as a job hunter is how to tailor your message to the circumstance in which you find yourself. In some instances, you need to give more detail about what you've done and where you've done it. Sometimes it is all about the facts: what you did, where you did it and what you achieved. But other times it's about you as a person, the values that motivate you and your overall story.

Just as your camera will shoot a very different picture of a landscape depending on the length of lens you use, the picture you paint of yourself will have much of the same content, but look quite different, depending on the type of document you compose.

Your branding statement will be very short and succinct, just a sentence or two. Your elevator speech will have the branding statement somehow embedded into it, but expand upon it, and include direction you are seeking to take.

Your LinkedIn profile will once again utilize your branding statement in the Summary section, but will be much more detailed including key accomplishments for each of the positions you've held, your education and much, much more.

In the space of a page or two, your résumé should be a more formal document. Each bullet point will convey a mini-story about a work situation, your task, your actions and the accomplishment you achieved.

Too often ignored, another document that can be very helpful to have in your arsenal is a bio, sometimes called a professional profile. They have multiple purposes and audiences.

Don Orlando, one of the leading career coaches in the country, sees such documents as very powerful aids in networking. He suggests that it's of key importance to analyze the purpose of a bio and understand your audience. According to him, there is no "one size fits all" form or content for a bio.

"You should not simply make assertions of your value without supporting them with concrete examples," Orlando says. Instead, he advises that a job hunter find out a potential employer's biggest problem. The job hunter should then assume that he or she is being hired and explain how he or she can help solve that problem.

Depending on one's background and interests, a bio can be helpful in promoting oneself for speaking engagements or putting oneself forward for an award, says Grant Cooper, also an award-winning certified résumé writer. It can be particularly helpful in creating a relationship, or when seeking an informational interview with someone at a particular company, without coming across as a job hunter applying for a particular position.

Another nationally prominent résumé writer, Lisa Parker, offers numerous places where a bio will be found, including: websites, business plans, project proposals and even military promotion packets. She emphasizes the importance of keeping a bio to "just three or four paragraphs that sum up the value of knowledge, and convey that working with, speaking with, or contracting a particular individual will be the best choice."

"Your bio is more expository by nature than a résumé," Cooper advises. "It shouldn't go into the level of detail or be as formal as a résumé." He tells his clients to get a good professional headshot, with excellent lighting. And he cautions not to use a cell phone unless you have no choice.

All agree that through your bio you can convey a narrative of who you are, and thereby reveal more of your personality than likely will come through in a résumé. You might include a snippet about your family or non-professional interests that can serve to humanize you in the eyes of the reader. Depending on the purpose and situation, a bio might be just a paragraph or as long as a page.

It all comes down to this: imagine who is reading about you, and in what context. Branding statements, résumés and LinkedIn profiles are mandatory elements of your campaign for employment. But there are times when a bio will fit the bill better. In the end, whatever format and language you employ, Cooper rightly maintains that success will only come when you make it interesting and compelling.

Happy hunting!

Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.

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