Bios and Brag Sheets: What are They and When Should I Use Them?

By Ross Macpherson

Most people consider a resume and cover letter as the extent of the career marketing documents out there. Not true. There are other documents and tools available to you that 1) augment what your resume can do, and 2) can do for you what your resume alone can’t. In other words, in today’s unique employment landscape, you often get your best traction and best results from a combination of tools – online and offline – all designed to market you and your value in different ways. I want to focus on two you may not be familiar with: the Bio and the Brag Sheet. For the most part, resumes are still the currency of choice to those in recruiting and hiring positions. Even if you network your way in the door or they find you on LinkedIn, at some point a resume needs to be produced. But resumes have limitations, and if not done well can actually highlight what you want to downplay. For example:

  • Do you have a gap of some kind in your work history?
  • Did you career recently take a left turn that’s inhibiting where you are trying to go now?
  • Is your current career goal not easily supported by your experience (i.e. you’re making a change)?
  • The beauty of Bios and Brag Sheets is, you can present yourself exactly as you want to be perceived. You’re not tied down by chronology, you’re not restricted by job titles, and you are free to “spin” your expertise and experience in the way that works best for you.
But even if your career has taken more of a direct route, these documents allow you to present yourself in a way that best serves where you want to go next. Here’s how they work: Executive Bios: Your bio tells your story. At its best, it’s a powerful one-page document that beautifully frames your career, your value, your expertise, and your “brand” in a compelling way. If done well, it says about you exactly what you want your audience to hear. Many of you may have had bios of some sort prepared for you in the past by your employers, but those were different. Those were typically written by your employer, for your employer. This Bio is written for you and where you want to go, and therefore should have a totally different tone and strategy. Brag Sheet: Where the Bio tells your story, the Brag Sheet frames your performance. Brag Sheets are all about track record and results. And again, the beauty is that you can pick and choose, highlight, and frame your results in exactly the way that you want. Your results can be presented in exactly the way that works to your advantage…you can arrange them by employer, you can arrange them by project, you could arrange them by industry/category if you want, you can highlight just one aspect of a result if that works best for you, and the list goes on. And it‘s all showcased in one powerful performance-laden document that screams results. So, your Executive Bio and Brag Sheet look and feel different from your resume, but they can also be used in different ways from your resume. They’re great door openers and they’re great leave-behinds, and they help you articulate your value and performance and suitability when it comes to interviews. So build a great resume, but consider building additional tools like a Bio and Brag Sheet. Together, as an integrated toolkit, you’ll be well armed to present an effective and compelling marketing package to propel your career forward.