- The difference between a CV and a professional bio
- Who needs a professional bio
- Compelling examples of bios in multiple contexts
A professional bio is one of the most important pieces of writing you have in your toolkit: what career and business opportunities will yours open up?
The difference between a CV and a professional bio
A CV and professional bio are both personal marketing documents, but they are used in different contexts.
CVs are generally used to apply for a job. They are written in third person, follow a conventional structure and are predominantly based on facts and achievements.
Professional bios, on the other hand, provide a more informal narrative that serves as a compelling elevator pitch.
Who needs a professional bio
Professionals of all experience levels can benefit from a bio.
As an executive, you should have a long and short version of a professional bio to use on:
- Corporate or personal websites
- Company marketing brochures
- Blog posts
- Conference materials
If you are a student, you can use yours as a LinkedIn summary or on the webpage of a campus organisation you are a part of. You never know who might come across it!
Effective examples of bios in multiple contexts
When crafting a professional bio, be intentional about the content you include and tailor it according to your objectives.
You want to adjust it accordingly based on where it appears and what type of organisation and industry you work for.
The purpose of a professional bio is generally to:
- State who you are and what you do
- Provide examples of your work experience that bolster your credibility
- Tell your story
How you go about accomplishing these three goals, however, will vary.
We compiled a variety of professional biographies and explain why they are effective to give you an idea of how to structure yours.
If you are a senior executive, you may have a professional bio on your company’s website: this is the most common request we receive.
John Hartman | Equifax
John Hartman put together a classic example of an executive bio for the Equifax website.
His writing is clear, concise, and follows the standard structure for an effective bio by providing:
- Name and current role at Equifax
- Previous experience at Equifax
- Early career history
- Education summary
If you’re looking for a conventional executive bio, you’ll want to follow this format.
It’s perfectly acceptable to use the bio you have on your company’s website for LinkedIn.
However, don’t forget that LinkedIn is still a social media platform, so it’s okay to infuse a bit more personality into it!
Jay Shetty | Personal Brand
Jay Shetty starts his introduction with “Meet the former monk who is making wisdom go viral.”
He immediately elaborates on this statement and further builds his credibility by explaining that he has 200 million views on social media, over one million followers, and was selected for Forbes 30 Under 30.
His bio also includes information about his education and career history while infusing elements of his story (we’ll forgive him for grammar errors and focus on content – because it is quite strong).
At the end, he also provides a preferred method of contact.
You should consider including your email address or a link to your LinkedIn profile as well – especially if your bio doubles as a marketing tool.
We’re increasingly seeing freelancers and even professionals in the corporate sector building personal websites that serve as an online CV, so to speak.
If you are a freelancer or run your own business, think carefully about your copy and what kind of message you are sending to your readers.
- What kind of impression will they have of you and your business after reading your bio?
- Does your bio leave them inspired and wanting to talk to you further?
- What is the image you are trying to convey? Do you want to come off as polished and professional, engaging, fun, or simply vanilla?
Melanie Everett | melanieeverettco.com
Melanie Everett runs an independent real estate firm in Chicago.
Coming from a journalism background, she has leveraged her writing skills to drive her real estate business. She currently ranks in the top 1% of real estate agents in Chicago.
Conference or Event Pamphlet
If you are speaking on a panel or delivering a keynote speech, you may have the opportunity to provide a bio to be featured in the event’s print materials.
For these types of communications, you’ll want your bio to be shorter than what you might include on a company page or LinkedIn summary.
These executive bios build credibility for you and your company while positioning you as an expert on the topic you will be speaking about.
Vera Manoukian | Hilton
Hilton’s Vera Manoukian provided this bio when she spoke on a panel titled “The Rebirth of Full-Service Hotels,” effectively demonstrating her leadership experience in the hospitality sector.
Executive bios for nonprofit organisations often employ a storytelling approach to introduce readers to the organisation’s mission and impact.
Ben Justus | EGBOK Mission
In his bio, Ben explains why he started EGBOK, the work his organisation does, and how it has grown.
When you contribute to an industry blog, you may have the opportunity to include additional information that showcases why you are an authority on the topic.
In this context, your bio can also serve as publicity for your company.
Arianna Huffington | THRIVE Global
Brian X. Chen | The New York Times
Other times, you may have very limited space to work with, making it especially important to consider how each word is adding value.
We hope these examples have given you inspiration and an understanding of what to include in your bio.
When writing yours, remember to keep the following in mind:
The best bios are written thoughtfully and intentionally, so it’s not something you want to leave to the last minute!