A lot of people use the words “resume” and “biodata” interchangeably, mostly because there doesn’t seem to be any distinction between the two. While it’s true that both are submitted by applicants interested in securing a certain position in a certain company, the similarities end there. Both contain personal data and both are meant to give the employer an idea of your skills, intelligence, aptitude, perseverance, and so on, but the two are actually distinctly different.
Resume is actually a French word meaning ‘to extract’ or ‘summary’. From the definition itself, we can gather that a resume simply summarizes a person’s information. Educational background, previous experience, hobbies and interests, skillset, etc. It’s a short, sweet, and succinct documentation of the more quantifiable aspects of your life that can be backed up by hard evidence (i.e., transcript of records, previous job references, and SAT or LSAT scores).
A resume can also be tailored for the particular job or position you’re applying for. These are career-objective resumes, and they’re a bit more aggressive than regular resumes. Depending on the kind of career you’re aiming for, all the data you have pertaining to that industry – i.e., college degree, previous work experience, awards, etc. –would be plastered right at the top. That way, hiring managers immediately see the information they want to know, rather than combing through 2 or 3 sections just to find it.
We have a resource of career-objective resume templates that you can take a look at if you’d like a first-hand example. Samples include resumes for Construction, Customer Service, Administrative Assistant, Marketing & Sales, Accounting, Engineering, and Nursing – just to name a few.
Biodata, which is the abbreviated form for Biographical Data, focuses more on the personal side of the applicant. It typically includes data that you wouldn’t normally find on a resume: marital status, father’s name, mother’s name, date of birth, hair color, eye color, heigh, weight, race, religion, and nationality. It’s a way for employers to know if the candidate they’re considering has certain preferences or will be needing special consideration. It also gives them an idea of your medical history and religious practices.
For most employers, the biodata is crucial. It can give them insights into what working with this potential candidate will be like, how well they’ll integrate into the workplace, and any possible complications that might arise should he or she be hired.
That said, some countries actually insist that the biodata accompanying the resume be formatted in a certain way, and can even reject an application simply due to lack of or incorrect format. India, in particular, is very strict about biodata – especially when one is applying for government jobs or research grants.
Included in the resource section is a couple biodata templates that you might find useful for review or editing. There are also plenty of guidelines and tips on choosing the right one.
SO, WHICH ONE DO I SUBMIT?
A lot of hiring managers and human resource experts agree that submitting both is always the safest bet. It may mean a bit more work for you, but the payoff is certainly worth the effort. However, there are certain things you can remember if you’re hard-pressed to submit just one.
If you’ve already got a considerable amount of work experience and are looking to apply for a middle- or senior-level position in any given industry, a resume is preferred over biodata. At that level, managers won’t give as much credence to educational background and awards won as much as they would to experience and specific skill sets. For middle- to senior-level positions, companies want to know that they can trust you without training you.
Pro-tip; when applying for a particularly lucrative job opening with heavy competition, you might want to consider using a career-objective resume. Two-fold reason; you save the hiring manager a good amount of time by simply getting straight to the point, and you stand a better chance of landing the position – especially if your credentials and experience are excellent.
If you’re a fresh graduate or a young professional with not a lot of work experience or job references to back you up, you could submit a biodata or a C.V. (Curriculum Vitae). A Curriculum Vitae – meaning ‘Course of Life’ in Latin – is more similar to a biodata, in the sense that they’re both more detailed and more personal than a resume. This way, you’re giving credence to your character rather than your experience (which you didn’t have much of in the first place). A biodata is also encouraged when applying for a career change or academic position.
If you’d like more pro-tips, guidelines, and – of course – downloadable resume and biodata templates that you’d like to use or reference, check out our resource section!