About pages - they're everywhere these days. Whether you have a bio on your company's site, you own your own business and have to tell people who you are, or simply have a bio via twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, you've got choices to make regarding how you position yourself.
Are you an expert, a working (wo)man, or something in between? Remember - if you leave bio tools blank, you're still making a choice - you're telling the world that you're afraid to take a stand. If I see that as someone who hires a lot, that's OK, I just think you're a nice compliant sort- but I probably have zero expectation that you're going to come in and WOW me if you're not brave enough to position yourself via something as static and available as an "about" page on LinkedIn. Job history only on LinkedIn? Cool. I'll be back when I need a safe choice.
Why is the "About" page on my mind? Because Jason Seiden brutally hacked some poor unsuspecting company that clearly didn't get it. More from JasonSeiden.com:
"What happens when personal branding goes too far? When it leaves others (aka “me”) with the impression that you think you’re MORE THAN AWESOME; YOU’RE A PIVOTAL PLAYER ON THE MOST PHENOMENAL, BESTEST, MOST PERFECTEST TEAM EVER CONCEIVED IN SOMEONE’S WHOLE BRAIN.
EVER. That’s how I felt when I read Brill Street’s About Us page—I got that, “Yep, they’re the best… just ask them!” feeling inside.
And there’s their wunderkind Talent Manager, who makes me want to hang it all up and go fetal in the corner. Armed with a Bachelor’s in cognitive science, she “thoroughly understands the mind” and “has become an expert in the areas of Talent Acquisition, Career Coaching and Organizational Development.” Wow. If there’s one thing I’ve learned after 6 years of studying management at the world’s foremost business institutions, nearly 2 decades in and around entrepreneurs, executives, managers, recruiters, coaches, and OD professionals, and hours upon hours reading papers by guys like this and meeting guys like that, it’s that I could never master all three of those areas in my entire lifetime, even if I tried."
When I first read Jason's post, I have to admit, I thought it was a little mean. Then it grew on me, and I learned from what he shared and basically decided you have three choices when it comes to an "About" page and how you position yourself:
1. Go with the Brill Street approach. Say you're the expert even if you're not or at the risk of seeming plastic to the world around you. LOTS of companies and people doing this.
2. Tell the world who you are. Tell the world who you are not. Be confident in the fact that by not trying to be all things to all people, you'll be more attractive to the people who are really looking for what you have to offer. This is similar to the Seth Godin "tribes" approach, and it's clearly the authentic way to go.
3. Be scared. You think the Brill Street approach sucks, but you just don't have the moxie required to tell the world who you are/aren't.
I've got news for you. #2 is the only way to go. It builds trust and authenticity, but it requires you to tell the world what you think sucks. Take a stand. People like it and the people who don't won't be nearly as active in being critical as you think they will be. I reworked my LinkedIn bio and came up with this:
"Who am I? That's an easy question - I'm a VP of HR type who has led HR practices in Fortune 500s and venture capital-held startups. I work for a living, and believe if you aren't an active recruiter/talent agent as an HR pro (regardless of title or position), you're overhead. I cringe when peer HR types act like administration is job #1 and allow it to dominate their professional identities. I cringe again if they make no attempt to be an active recruiter.
BOOM! If you like that description, you'll like me. It's that simple.
I'm also among the most transparent HR pros you can find, and here's why. I care so much about the art of HR that I've started two blogs (www.hrcapitalist.com and www.fistfuloftalent.com) with the goal of building a community I could learn from. I've been putting my thoughts down every business day for 3 years.
That means what you see is what you get. I can't hide, and if I ever pulled the blogs down, Google would probably haunt me forever anyway."
Let me know what you think, because there's no such thing as a perfect "About" page. There's only Brill Street pages and blank pages.