I routinely write professional bios for executives, c-suite leaders, boards of directors, business owners, and speakers. One of the top questions I receive is: when do I need an executive bio? The follow-up to that question is: how do I write an executive bio?
There are a few ground rules to remember when writing a professional bio versus writing a resume or LinkedIn profile. A executive resume is geared as a strategic marketing document that tells your career story with qualitative and quantitative achievements. A LinkedIn profile is a representation of your online resume, but from a first-person humanistic perspective that tells your career story.
My advice: never copy and paste your bio into your LinkedIn profile otherwise it will read like an obituary of your life and career. A bio is static, whereas LinkedIn is your live and active personal brand.
When You Need an Executive Bio
Executive bios are needed where there’s an informational meeting, a speaking engagement, and/or a business proposition. If you’re an independent consultant or business owner, an executive bio is ideal for your website or company landing page.
Writing an Executive Bio
When I write a professional bio for an executive client, I send them a proprietary worksheet that looks deep into the client’s career background, passion for his/her work, and relevant career achievements. I will also ask for a copy of the resume and any published articles about the executive.
Here is a skeletal framework I generally use when writing an executive bio:
Paragraph 1: Introduce the executive and what makes him/her a subject matter expert along with his/her key focus areas.
Paragraphs 2 &3: Discus the career history of the executive (early career to current career role)
Paragraph 4: Discuss services the executive provides and/or currently specializes in and how the executive has pivoted his/her career into this area of expertise
Paragraph 5: Education, current community leadership and affiliations, and other things the executive does in his/her spare time, as well as honors and awards
Length of an Executive Bio
Length can vary in a professional bio depending on its intended audience and use. If you’re using the bio for a speaking engagement, podcast interview, book intro, or publication byline, you should have two versions. One is a shorter version (up to 250 words), and the other is a longer version (300-450 words) for your website or business meeting.
Sell Sheet: Combining an Executive Bio and Resume into a Networking Document
A “shell sheet” combines the inner workings of a resume and a bio. It provides a bio with an career timeline absent extensive details expected in a traditional resume for a job search. Situations when you utilize a “sell sheet” include attending business meetings, applying for a local or national award or submitting a proposal for a speaking engagement, combine the inner workings of a resume and an executive bio into a “sell sheet.” This provides a career timeline without extensive details that would be expected in a traditional resume for a job search.
Interested in having your executive bio written or a “sell sheet” created for your next business opportunity? Hop over to my professional bio and executive bio writing services page for more details about this service.