You’ve found the perfect executive role and you tick all the boxes. However, you’re unsure about whether your CV and LinkedIn profile will highlight your accomplishments, whilst at the same time differentiating yourself from other candidates. For executive roles, the competition can be intense, putting ever greater pressure on you to prove to the hiring manager that you have what it takes to succeed. This is where an executive bio comes in.
What is an executive bio?
Essentially, it’s your story; a way for you to present your expertise, career history, professional accomplishments, values, and goals in a compelling, and easy-to-read narrative. It should be the first section on your CV and LinkedIn Summary and be approximately 150-300 words; any longer and you risk the reader losing interest. You may find that 150 words is a better fit for the top of your CV, while an extended version of 300 words is best for your LinkedIn executive summary. The standard format of an executive bio requires it to be written in the third-person, rather than exercising personal pronouns. While the hiring manager can get all the hard facts from the latter section of your CV, your executive bio should help the employer to picture what it would be like to work with you.
Why is it important?
An executive bio demonstrates clearly who you are, what you do and why you would excel in the role. It highlights why you are the perfect fit while helping to inject some personality into your career narrative; preferably something which will make you stand out in the mind of the hiring manager. It’s your time to shine and demonstrate what you can bring to the role that other candidates can’t. Due to this, it requires a lot of time and effort to get it just right. Make no mistake, an executive bio should not be rushed.
When should you use it?
Your executive bio should sit atop your CV. Its purpose goes beyond sitting in this one document; many professionals will use their executive bios in the summary section of their LinkedIn profile for consistency and to give browsing headhunters an indication of who you are and what makes you tick.
Before you begin writing, however, you should think carefully about the content to be included. In planning what to include, consider the following:
- Who is your target audience?
- What do they need to know?
- What do you want them to do?
If you are still lacking inspiration, research the executive bios of prominent life science executives on LinkedIn, but don’t be inclined to copy theirs word-for-word. The most effective way to capture the attention of an employer is to emphasise your uniqueness and play to your strengths.
Take a look at Elon Musk’s and Mark Cuban’s extended executive bios featured on their websites.
A generic structure of an executive bio is summarised below:
1) Value proposition (and how it differentiates)
An opening statement explaining who you are, what you do and the value you bring.
2) Previous experience (and why it matters)
Outline your career history, emphasising promotions and progression as well as the impact you had at each organisation.
3) Industry honours and achievements
If you’ve been awarded or nominated for any distinctions, then this is your opportunity to impress the employer. Tell them how you won it and why it benefited your career.
4) Community/industry involvement
Do you do anything outside of work that merits recognition? If you mentor, volunteer or frequently fundraise for charity then it’s worthwhile outlining it here to illustrate your sense of character.
Finally, explain your professional qualifications and any degrees, if relevant.
Now that you know the structure, follow these three tips and you will be able to write a powerful and engaging executive bio:
1. Stay on-brand
Consistency is key. Your job application, CV and pain letter should reflect your personality and be uniform in style. Make sure the message that you’re trying to communicate is reflected across all your job search touchpoints – CV, pain letter, LinkedIn profile and personal website (if applicable). You should hook the hiring manager early on with your demonstrable skills and knowledge; perhaps you single-handedly managed a team consisting of hundreds of individuals or implemented significant changes, resulting in productivity improvements. Whatever your unique value proposition is, ensure that you link it directly to the role you are applying for.
In your executive bio, you should try to portray yourself as authentically as possible. Avoid any discrepancies between how you appear on paper, and how you appear face-to-face to prevent issues from occurring further down the line. While your executive bio is an opportunity for you to demonstrate how your values align with the organisation, don’t be tempted to simply copy the organisation’s core values from their website. An individual is comprised of incomparable values that motivate and inspire them; you don’t want to jeopardise your chance of being hired because the employer doesn’t think you’ll bring any unique qualities to the organisation. Be consistent and stay true to your personal brand.
For such an important touchpoint, it can be hard to resist the temptation of using more intricate and professional language, but if this language doesn’t reflect the way that you speak or write naturally, then you could risk compromising yourself at a later stage when your true language abilities are revealed. In terms of design, the same colours and fonts should be reflected throughout your portfolio for a consistent brand feel.
2. Bring it to life
There’s a fine line between crafting an executive bio that’s professional, and one which lacks any kind of passion or drive behind your words. While prospective employers want to see that you can communicate effectively and to a high standard, you should use this opportunity to showcase your personality through your writing. This doesn’t mean compromising on professionalism, but rather indicates that you’re an effective storyteller and communicator. The beauty of this is that everyone has a different writing style. While other executives may have had a similar journey, nobody can bring to the table what you can, and this will be emulated in your executive bio.
The experience section allows you to truly breathe life into your executive bio. While you are writing, keep in mind that your primary remit is to keep your audience engaged. Long, arduous tangents about how you moved from role A to role B is useless in an executive bio; the reader can learn that information from reading the experience section of your CV. Climbing up the career ladder is a notable achievement which deserves elaboration. In addition, don’t be afraid to put a positive spin on career challenges. Explain how you overcame adversity in the workplace or how you pushed through disappointment or setbacks. Even though failures may seem like something you want to leave out of an executive bio, how you overcame them is all part of your story and will show further elements of your personality that might resonate with what the hiring manager is looking for in their next hire.
In your executive bio, your mission statement should convince the employer why they should hire you and the values that you bring. A good value proposition will give you an advantage over other candidates. Your values should be unique, but if done accurately, will play to what the employer is looking for. Grouping your proposition with your mission and values will add weight to it as it will provide strong reasoning behind it.
3. Keep it up-to-date
Your career is constantly evolving, and your executive bio should reflect these changes. With every promotion or achievement, ensure that you update your executive bio. Your past achievements will be growing older by the day and while they may still be precious to you, prospective employers might not be so interested. They want to know about your recent achievements and how this can benefit them. While your new role will keep you busy, set aside some time each quarter to get reacquainted with your executive bio, particularly if there are any major amendments to make.
You could even craft a reworked version of your executive bio, which you could then implement across your social media bios, particularly LinkedIn. There are billions of people on social media nowadays, which makes it extremely hard to compete. However, a concise, memorable bio can attract people to your profile and reinforce your personal brand. Keep your social media bio succinct, while also mentioning your strongest career moments to really impress your audience.
To conclude, if you are ready to take your executive career to the next level, an executive bio is a must. It is a succinct overview of all that you can offer to your role, the measure of who you are, and it also presents your communication style and personality before you are asked to interview.
Now that you have a well thought out and crafted executive bio, you can begin applying to executive jobs with a newfound confidence that will help you excel throughout the hiring process.
For more advice on personal branding for life science executives…
- Read How Showcasing Your Personal Brand Leads To Job Search Success.
- View our talent solutions to see how we can help you gain a competitive edge through talent.
* Fraser Dove International is a talent consultancy operating exclusively across the life sciences industry. While our roots lie in executive search, we provide more than the traditional recruitment services. Uniquely placed within the market, we have been providing cutting-edge talent solutions and insight to organisations at all stages of their journey – from start-up to established leaders – since 2013.