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- from the desk of Ian Christie
CEO & Executive Career Coach
Executive Bio - The Missing Piece for Your Personal Marketing
Savvy executives, senior managers, consultants, and other smart professionals have a personal branding tool in their back pocket that helps them elevate their personal brand and bring in new opportunities. It is called an Executive Bio / Executive Biography, Professional Bio or Marketing Bio, and you can develop one too.
An example of when you could use your Executive Bio
Picture this: you and your new LinkedIn connection have just finished introducing yourselves and discussing your current positions. They ask you if you have any specialties. Although all your professional titles have had to do with business and operations, you’ve managed plenty of human resource activities during the early stages of your career. Combine this with a passion for IT and multiple workshops taken through the years, and you have your answer:
As you know, my core expertise lies in business and operations, but I’ve also become somewhat of an expert in the implementation and management of HRIS (human resources information systems) as part of my last two roles.
Is that so?, your contact asks. Last week, my Vice President told me that the Board of Directors has voted for an organization-wide migration to a new HRIS. The project is not official yet, but they will need to find someone who can lead the initiative and manage operations after the transition.
This truly is a small world you think. Your new acquaintance has just described the pitch-perfect, logical next move for your career. A role you’ve dreamed of and one you’re qualified for. You want to call this person right away to scream at the top of your lungs that this is a perfect match… But you know better than this.
Networking is a mutual affair, and you cannot be asking for a favour 5 minutes into your first conversation. And sending your resume too soon could make you seem as if you were begging for a job. At the same time, you also want to ensure that you’ll be considered for the opportunity. This is one of many situations when an impactful, ready-to-use executive biography could make all the difference in the world.
What is an Executive Bio, with an example
An enhanced business card of sorts, the executive bio is a one-page document providing, at a glance, an impactful oversight of your personal brand and strongest assets. It is an engaging story, generated from a big-picture view of your whole career and who you are as a professional, with a unifying theme and impactful achievements to support it.
In a way, it is a teaser answer to the question ‘’How would you describe yourself and your career?’’.
The Executive Bio or Professional Bio offers a chronology, presents your key credentials and qualifications, and describes powerful highlights that make the reader understand that you are a person they need to speak with.
Done right, your executive bio shows that your resume does not confine you, that you understand your value and can articulate it while releasing you from the mentality that the only way you can pursue opportunities is through your resume or LinkedIn.
Why do I need an Executive Biography?
We at Bold Career like to talk about a personal marketing bio when we refer to this key tool of your career management arsenal, as it can be useful for professionals of nearly all levels and functions.
Whether you’re a developer with an in-depth knowledge of a lesser-known programming language extensively used at a new company, or a former CFO looking for consulting gigs within fast-growing companies, there will come a time when a professional bio or marketing bio provides you with a concrete advantage over anyone who doesn’t have one.
When to use your Marketing Bio
Its most powerful usage comes in similar situations as the one we described above. It fills the gap left between your resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter, allowing you to provide your key contacts – and their contacts – with key information which might open some doors you didn’t know existed in situations when sending your resume would have made you come across as if you were begging for a job. But the executive bio is also much more versatile than this. You can:
attach it to an email when you want to introduce yourself – this fosters trust and helps establish credibility
put it on your personal website or portfolio
include it in proposals
leverage it to market yourself for speaking or consulting opportunities
or use it across an array of other situations
Unlike your LinkedIn profile, your marketing bio can be targeted to different types of opportunities in cases where you have a portfolio of activities.
How do you write a professional bio?
If recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds looking at a resume to determine whether they will call the candidate for an interview, as a study by Ladders revealed, you can’t expect them to take more time to dissect the finer details of your executive bio. Before you even start writing, your professional value proposition (PVP) must be crystal clear – if you have done some serious work on your resume and LinkedIn profile, this should already be the case.
What thread unites each step of your path, from your initial passions to your first professional roles, to where you are now and where you’re going? The same way, what is the common theme across your resume, LinkedIn profile, and recruiter’s brief? And more importantly, how will your professional bio connect the dots in a concentrated and compelling manner which will make the reader want to grab the phone and call you immediately?
Write for your target audience
If you know what you can bring to the table and the direction you want to take in your career, you should also know who will be interested in your skills and expertise. Like with any other personal branding document or marketing endeavour, you need to start from your target reader’s point of view and understand their needs before articulating your value and how you will resolve their most important pain points. Maybe you’re a dynamic manager and a catalyst of change; your technical skills are limited, but you’re known for building bridges between groups and rejuvenating motivation and growth when things are stagnating. For the employer, you could be the answer to their declining sales and staff morale. Positioning yourself adequately is crucial if you want to receive that email or phone call.
Articulate your value in your professional bio
Your PVP has been established. Great. Now, it’s time to show the reader why you claim to be able to deliver such strong value. STAR achievement stories (Situation-Task-Action-Result) are one of the keys to writing resumes that generate interviews. In the case of your executive bio, you should think of them as staR stories: limit context and details to the minimum required and let the results shine. You are positioning yourself as the expert the reader needs to speak with, and the results of your achievements are why they want to. Also, don’t forget the essentials:
Name and personal information
Professional title(s); be creative and choose words that will draw the attention, as you would on LinkedIn
Succinct professional summary
Impactful achievement stories
Significant qualifications and expertise
Most relevant education and training
LinkedIn URL, Twitter handle, online portfolio, personal blog, and any other relevant content
Stay on-brand in your bio
We call it ‘’personal branding’’ for a reason. Your presence in the job market, social media, and throughout your documents is a brand that must be well-defined and consistent.
The executive bio may contain the first information the reader will learn about you, or it may not. Regardless, you want your personal value proposition, your hook, to be easily distinguishable from everyone else’s. And you want to leave no room whatsoever for doubts or confusion.
Use your executive bio to show your passion and personality
Resumes and cover letters must abide by specific rules of thumb and formal standards.
LinkedIn profiles can be seen by anyone and everyone, including current employers and colleagues, which means they require a certain level of reserve.
Conversely, the executive bio offers a high level of creative liberty which you must take advantage of. You need to leave a memorable impression, and anything which is not genuine will fail to do so.
Remember that this brand and character you’re putting on paper – you – will need to be followed by an equally convincing first conversation, so there’s no need to try and pretend to be anything else than who and what you indeed are.
Take the time to write and rewrite your summary and achievements. Read them out loud: do you feel like you’re speaking with your voice? What is off?
What about the visual aspect? If in doubt, reach out to professionals or friends who will provide their opinions to help you achieve a final result that you’re genuinely proud of.
Be bold, be fearless with your personal marketing bio
You’ve decided to take matters into your own hands and pursue your next opportunity with proactivity and intention. Now, you should build on that momentum and translate your decisiveness into an on-brand, differentiated executive bio that will set you apart from everyone else.
Remember that you don’t need to be the right person for every job, just like every job isn’t for you. Luck is a combination of two things: preparedness and opportunity. You can fully control preparedness and maximize it by having all the tools you need in your career management toolbox. Opportunity isn’t always as predictable, as you never know when it will come. But when it does, you need to be ready for it… and if it doesn’t come soon enough, get out there and provoke it yourself!
If you’d like us to craft an executive bio for you, please get in touch to learn more.
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