Writing Your Indiana Jones Bio

Before you produce a final resume, consider first writing your Indiana Jones Bio, especially if you haven’t looked for a job in a while. Making the effort to complete your IJ Bio can help you conduct more effective networking and private equity group (PEG) job interviews.

How did the IJ Bio come into use? I noticed years ago that a significant number of our A player skin in the game C-Level search candidates from manufacturing industries in the Midwest and the Southwest had unimaginative resumes. Top level candidates, particularly at the full P&L and operations level, found it difficult to legitimately give themselves credit for their major career employment achievements.

Each C-Level SITG job search finalist accomplished a lot more than they were taking credit for. My old man used to say “if it’s factual, it’s not bragging.”

The lower middle market skin in the game search assignments I fill demand hands-on C-Level candidates typically able to do more than the job for which they were hired. Their resumes need to demonstrate an ability to wear many hats in small portfolio companies. If you are trying for a job in this market, your resume must show these skills and characteristics.

Bringing out such legitimate abilities in your Indiana Jones Bio first will provide you with ammunition for a more effective resume that addresses your target audience’s hiring priorities.

I began calling my candidate bio request the Indiana Jones Bio based on the adventurous Indiana Jones movies, and the bio moniker stuck. Afterward, our senior level candidates began focusing on their value added achievements and began putting numbers, profits, metrics, EBIT/EBITDA figures, results, percentages, etc. into their IJs and subsequently into their resumes instead of just bland generalities. Their elevator pitches used in networking and interviewing also improved with more practice after they completed their IJ Bio. So did their confidence.

When investigating their own possible company acquisitions, private equity firms, including our PEG clients, employ a due diligence screening process before they spend millions in assessing and verifying as much critical, relevant, and confidential information as possible. Some PEGs spend years evaluating a key acquisition. The more continually successful PEGs employ that same due diligence approach and investigative detail regarding their SITG executive search candidates.

The more the clients know about their C-Level finalist candidates, the better their hiring decisions. PEGs appreciate the opportunity to really know their C-Level candidates and eventual hires.

My pet peeve with the middle market PEGs is their insufficient concern with a C-Level candidate’s “soft skills”. These are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people encompassing leadership, empathy, communication, and sociability. Too many middle market PEGs focus almost solely on hard skills, defined as a person’s technical skills and ability to perform certain stand-alone functional tasks.

The IJ Bio, done right, is a cathartic, comprehensive review of your career to date. It demonstrates your soft skills and hard skills. The best approach, on a rough draft basis, is to list each employer, company, sales, number of employees, job location(s), parent company, products or services, job title and key job criteria.

Be sure to mention the job challenges you faced. Start getting in the habit of rating your individual job performance (and why) versus the job specs from one to ten. Concisely explain circumstances, if any, beyond your control for poor performances.

The IJ Bio is to be treated confidentially regarding its distribution. Mark the top of your IJ Bio CONFIDENTIAL-FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. If your first interview has gone well with a PEG and resulted in a follow-up interview, use your IJ Bio as a leave behind with the interviewer once the second interview session has ended positively. Remember, you will be competing for that skin in the game job. Odds are your competition will only have a resume to leave with the hiring authority. Most PEG interviewers don’t take notes besides writing on the SITG candidate’s resume. So they will consider this an asset if they consider you a solid job candidate. Use your IJ Bio judiciously as it’s not for just anybody who gets your resume.

Indiana Jones Bio Basic Outline Exhibit:

  • Avoid duplicating your resume contents
  • Don’t be overly modest
  • Don’t exaggerate
  • Don’t constantly make generalizations
  • Back up your claims with numbers, facts, data, and specifics
  • Avoid using too many adjectives
  • Be factual, clear, concise, and enlightening
  • Be careful not to breach any former employer non-disclosure agreements using too much specific detail.
  • Instead of naming customers, edit them such as increased margins with Customer A another 12%.

Prepare to be asked, “Tell me about yourself” unless you’re Tom Brady or Jack Welch.

Pick up my book, Skin in the Game, on Amazon here.


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