14 Tips for Writing an Online Bio

by Beverly Harvey

Numerous reports confirm that online career networking continues to grow in popularity.

Web 2.0 technologies have provided a new channel where executives, recruiters and executive search consultants can connect.

Networking sites such as Linkedin.com and ziggs.com have developed sections specifically for job posting, job searches, and career networking.

Additionally, membership-driven career sites such as ExecuNet.com, RiteSite.com, and TheLadders.com, offer member-to-member networking opportunities.

Other online networking options include social media sites such as Facebook.com, Twitter.com, and online discussion forums and blogs.

Business information search engines such as Zoominfo.com allow you to search and view executive bios.

These are all wonderful resources and many require a professional bio or profile. It’s important to be aware that the bio or profile that you post will become a major component of your online presence. While some websites limit access to members only, protect your privacy, and thwart spider invasions, others have been created specifically to connect people worldwide and your information may pop up in a search engine.

There are two types of bio formats. Some sites allow you to post a narrative bio; other sites provide sections and headings where you can post your information, similar to posting your resume online. Some sites have sections for everything from education, experience and awards to interests and hobbies. So here are a few tips to help you create an effective bio.

  1. Review each site to identify the culture and demographics of the members and determine the appropriate approach and amount of information you will want to share. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are much more conversational than LinkedIn and you’ll want to adjust your writing style accordingly.
  2. First person/third person: On the more professional sites that are geared for job search and professional networking, you’ll find a mixture of first-person and third-person profiles. On the more conversational sites, you’ll want to write your profile in first-person.
  3. Consistent use of your name: To eliminate any confusion to recruiters or potential employers, be consistent with the name you use online, particularly for job search purposes. Your online name should match your name on your resume.
  4. Reverse chronological order: Begin your profile with your most recent experience. Oftentimes traditional bios begin with where you graduated and progress to current day; however, your online profile should be limited to your recent background.
  5. Writing style: This may be your “first impression” with a recruiter or potential employer. If the option is available, create a powerful headline or tag line that captures the reader’s attention and compels the reader to want to know more about you. Your profile summary should be an “executive snapshot” with basic information regarding type of experience, industry focus, types of companies, global cultural familiarity, languages, and other areas of expertise.
  6. Value proposition: Demonstrate your experience in solving specific problems. Include examples of how you deliver value to the employer’s bottom line.
  7. Expertise: Be specific about your expertise versus positioning yourself as a generalist. Most companies are looking for professionals with deeply niched expertise. They are looking for the “perfect fit.”
  8. Executive brand: Include your innate qualities that differentiate you from others. State what you are renowned for, or are an evangelist for. Your brand must communicate a clear and marketable value proposition, an authentic and unique promise of value.
  9. Complete your profile: Many sites have some type of gauge that displays the percentage of the completeness of your profile based on the number of categories you complete. According to LinkedIn, users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to find opportunities through their site.
  10. Dates and accuracy: Make sure that all of your information and dates are accurate … discrepancies among sites could be damaging to your reputation.
  11. Keywords: Since recruiters are using the networking sites heavily to identify and research candidates, use lots of keywords and phrases.
  12. Spelling: Check spelling carefully. Misspelled key words won’t come up in a search.
  13. Public record: Do not publish any information that you wouldn’t want your current or future employer to know about you.
  14. Tracking: Keep a log of all of the sites where you have posted information about yourself … and any blog where you have posted comments.

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