Why the Bio Is the New Resume
In Chapter 15 of 17 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, educator and entrepreneur Michael Margolis goes into depth about the fundamental principles that make your bio or story - a narrative construction of self - more important to job matchmaking than a resume. Michael Margolis is founder and president of Get Storied, an education and publishing platform dedicated to teaching the world how to think in narrative. He earned a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Tufts University.
Erik: Why do you believe the bio is the new resume? Michael: So, this is a topic I get really excited about and it’s this realization that when you go in for a job interview, there’s many other candidates with similar credentials. It’s not about your resume, why you ultimately get hired. It’s because of your story. If you're out on a date, we've all been out on a date. We all have that experience of interacting with somebody or if you’ve ever gone out on a business pitch and you walk away from that meeting and you have that experience of going, “Did I say the right thing? I wonder. Geez, did I come off the way I wanted to come off”. We all have this insecurity, this sense of doubt about how we expressed ourselves and that’s why the bio is the new resume. I wrote an article that went viral on the internet. It was called, The Resume is Dead, the Bio is King and it really talked about these principles. It’s been retweeted and Facebook shared like 8,000 times now, it just went everywhere. And it talked about these fundamental principles that none of us had been taught in school but that today what really matters is your personal story. Think about it this way. Before every business meeting you’ve been Googled and what happens? People ultimately follow your social media breadcrumbs back to an about page of some kind. It could even be a LinkedIn profile but on that about page is your bio, it’s a narrative construction of self and so the power of the bio whereas a resume is more reflective of an age of just the facts. The resume is an age of competency, of qualifications. Well, the problem is, there’s a thousand if not a million MBA’s, there’s a thousand if not a million designers, there’s a thousand if not a million consultants, everybody has some credential or another. The way you distinguish and differentiate yourself is with your personal story, right. Your perceived worth and value is totally linked to your personal story, that’s why people hire you especially if you’re an expert of any kind, author, speaker, coach, consultant, sales person, even an entrepreneur. Why does an investor invest in your business? Yes, they need to like the idea, and they need to think you’ve got a solid business model. But investors will tell you what they’re really investing in is the people. They wanna know you’re on a mission from God. You’re gonna make this thing happen hell or high water. So, all of these aspects of our own personal back-story are foundational. They’re fundamental. They’re essential skills and again none of us have been taught how to do this. So, how do you tell your personal story? Well, think about how do you convey how you see the world. What motivates you? Where you come from? How do you articulate your point of view? The things that really matter to you, and give people the sense of some of the twists and turns that have shaped how you now see the world. How did you come to be where you are now? And one of the keys – I’ve got lots of information online if anybody is interested in this, go to the thenewaboutme.com. We’ve got lots of downloadable resources on this and even a 7-step formula for this whole process. One of the key elements to this, we think of, if I'm gonna turn my bio into a story, well a story needs a beginning, middle and end, so I better start at the beginning. Don’t start your bio with where you were born and what was going on when you were 6-years-old. Some of that information is actually really powerful and useful and it’s a whole concept called Super Hero Origins, which I describe online and people can track down a video where I talk about that. So, you wanna talk about your origins but here’s the key to a bio today, is it’s not in chronological order. Start with who you are. What you do. Who you serve. Establish relevance in the eye of your audience and then from there start to articulate your point of view, how you see the world, sort of what’s the intersection that you’re working on, maybe you work at the intersection of design, technology, and psychology. Or maybe you work at the intersection of law, human rights, and chocolate. That would be a pretty cool job, right. But figure out what your intersection is, give people a sense of here’s my world and then talk about your back-story of how you got to that place. That’s a really important distinction. The power of 21st century storytelling is nonlinear storytelling and you need to start from the present and the future, where are you going and then give me a sense. If you hook my attention, I’ll want to know then where are you coming from.