Many people confuse a bio with a resume, or even with an executive summary. A bio is neither of those things, but is a useful tool to support your activities and your career.
There are many occasions when you may need a bio in your corporate capacity, such as when you’re invited to speak before your peers at a conference. If you are considering entering the professional speaking arena, a bio is absolutely essential.
A bio is often written in the first person and portrays more of your soft skills and attributes than would be in a resume. Here you might also include information that would be a cardinal sin on a resume, i.e., details about your personal life, marital status, kids, and other personal interests.
While a resume might be one, two or three pages long, the rule of thumb for a bio is to keep it to one page. You may want to create variations to have handy for different scenarios, such as a few lines for the bottom of an article, or a few paragraphs to be read as an introduction from the stage.
Use Microsoft Word or other desktop publishing tools to create an enticing layout design. However, bear in mind that your bio is part of the portfolio of marketing materials that includes your resume, cover letter, and list of references. The design, font and layout should be consistent for all.
You can use a more casual photograph in a bio, depending on your audience. For example, you may wear a suit and tie in a photo for a corporate setting, versus a dress shirt for a community setting.
Take several professional photos in different outfits so you can customize them to match the occasion, just as you may update the language with specific details that cater to your audience.
A well-written bio tells a more complete story of who you are in both your work life and your personal life, and can be adapted for many of your professional activities.