A professional bio is a great marketing tool to complement the resume and round out your professionally branded portfolio.
Traditionally reserved as a self-promotional tool for executive-level professionals and the C-Suite, the professional bio has evolved to cater more to the digitally-driven marketing needs of job seekers across all levels, who are looking for an innovative and polished way to market themselves in a saturated job market.
A bio is essentially a brief professional summary that tells a story about your career progression in 1-2 pages. It can be adapted to stand on its own as a marketing piece, function as a supplement to your resume or cover letter, or be utilized to fit your website, social media profiles, or LinkedIn profile. It can also be used to credit you in things like guest’s posts or interviews.
Given the diversity of networks and tools job seekers use these days for marketing purposes, it may be necessary to have different versions of your bio to fit the appropriate platform and audience.
I recommend having 3 types of bios:
The Full Bio (1-2 pages)
The full bio is the traditional format, longer and more extensively detailed around not only your expertise but your career progression and growth. Where are you now, where have you been, and where are you going? Here’s an example.
The Summary Bio (1-2 paragraphs)
This bio gives a snapshot of where you currently are in your career, your level of experience, and your core skills, strengths, and expertise that you bring to the table. This can be useful as a summary statement for your resume or LinkedIn profile, an “About Me” page on your website, or an intro for a social media profile such as Google+.
The Short Bio (1-2 lines)
The short bio, or byline, is a brief and very high-level snapshot of who you are and what you do. It’s appropriate for use as a LinkedIn headline, a Twitter bio, or when asked to credit yourself in an article or interview.
What makes a good bio?
Whether it’s two lines or two pages here are a few pointers to get you started:
1) Relevance Is Key. Keep it succinct and to the point. What information is your audience interested in knowing about you? Just like the resume and cover letter, it may make sense to tailor your bio to fit the interests of the audience you’re trying to reach.
2) Make It Interesting. If this were an invitation to introduce you for a potential dinner date, would someone be intrigued enough to want to meet you? It shouldn’t be a reiteration of your resume, but instead an additional platform to expand upon your unique qualifications, interests, and career milestones. It should enhance and introduce the resume – not mimic it.
3) Create Versions in Different Tenses. Create each bio in both first-person narrative (informal) and third-person formal to fit different audiences and platforms. Using your bio as a one-page sell sheet or leave behind is a more formal usage, while your website bio can sound more conversational, and LinkedIn can go either way.
4) Don’t Cram it With URLs. You may be tempted to reference particular projects or companies with which you were involved, but leave it to your reader to do additional research on those if they’re interested. No need to include links to prior projects, employers, or anything else, other than a portfolio or profile link in your contact info if it makes sense to do so.
5) Avoid the “Tell All”. It’s a bio, not a book. It’s likely that your reader is unacquainted with you, and as such, has no interest in your life story. They want to know what you’ve done on a professional level, and where you’re coming from. Treat it more like a compelling high-level overview and introduction to their next new hire (you)!
While a bio won’t necessarily replace a resume, much like a social media or LinkedIn profile, it can serve as a complimentary marketing piece that gives you an added platform to expand on your resume and provide an employer or potential client with additional detail that might be important to their evaluation of you.