Resumes are the most common way to present your work experience and key results.
LinkedIn is the leading resource for summarizing your career background online while networking with other professionals. But if you’re looking to up your game and get to the next level, an executive bio may be just the right format for summarizing your experience in a concise way.
So, what’s an executive bio, and why would you ever need it?
An executive bio is a one-page document that outlines your unique value proposition. It’s typically written as a third-person story about your work experience and highlights key results, board contributions, and educational background. Some executive bio formats are more formal, and others are more casual. Whichever format you use, you’re looking to tell your story in a concise, easy-to-read way.
However, not every executive needs an executive bio, so how do you know if an executive bio is a right format for you?
1. You are seeking a board seat
The most common reason you need an executive bio is to position yourself for a board seat.
Executive bios should demonstrate your value proposition while allowing you to show decision-makers why you are uniquely qualified for your target role. Like your resume, you should quantify results and share numbers wherever you can (i.e., “Mindy Brown leads a team of 400 to manufacture $1 billion in product annually”).
Where the executive bio differs from your resume is the amount of detail: you want to highlight only your most impressive results and experience. You also want to call attention to your previous and current not-for-profit or for-profit board experience, demonstrating how this experience will help you in future board roles.
2. You are currently in (or moving into) a VP, SVP, or C-Level role
Executive bios can be useful branding tools if you are trying to position yourself for a senior leadership role. At this level, you typically have 15+ years of experience and a multiple-page resume, which can be cumbersome for the reader.
The one-page composition of the executive bio and the story-telling format enable you to share your results quickly.
Having an executive bio also signals to the reader that you take your brand seriously: not every professional has an executive bio, so it certainly is a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. As a bonus, you can weave pieces of your executive bio into your LinkedIn profile to generate online buzz (and potentially have employers find you).
3. You want to position yourself as an industry expert
Suppose your goal is to present at industry conferences, write for trade publications, or demonstrate your industry expertise in other ways. In that case, executive bios are a great way to summarize your experience.
As you form your executive bio, make sure to use headers to highlight experience in the areas where you are a subject matter expert.
For example, suppose you are an expert in small parcel pricing and have written numerous articles on this topic. In that case, you can use the header “Transportation Spend Expertise” when outlining your knowledge in this area. Your goal is to catch the readers’ attention and demonstrate your experience and results: headers can help you to do that.
4. You are running for government office
I’ve written executive bios for clients seeking government office and can vouch that this is a great way to summarize your experience for constituents.
If you choose to write an executive bio, in this case, you should focus on key wins and community contributions. An executive bio can be especially useful if you are making a change from the private sector to public office, enabling you to show how your industry experience positions you to help the community.
Since executive bios can be the key to positioning yourself for board roles, promotions, industry leadership positions, or even government offices, it’s best to start writing your executive bio before you think you need it. It’s a good idea to have your executive bio prepared so that you are ready to jump whenever the right opportunity comes along.
Looking for further advice? Register here for Ivy Exec’s All Access Membership and 1:1 Resume Critique!