We’ve all had to be introspective at some point, especially when you’re looking to put yourself out there through a professional bio. You’ve likely thought about who you are or what qualities you embody. You’ve thought about your achievements. Thinking to yourself is one thing, though, and writing it down for an external audience is entirely another.
On the surface, it should be fairly simple. It’s a short paragraph or two describing your professional journey so far and where you intend to take it.
But then why do so many people struggle to write a bio that adequately captures who they are?
We’ve put together a checklist of the things that combine to make a great bio. To start off:
In many ways, the most important part of your blog is the opening section. A strong introduction not only reels your readers in, it can also serve to highlight the strongest aspects of your repertoire. Those first few lines need to be absolutely spot on to prompt the person reading to continue, so don’t skimp on your trial and error. Try out as many opening lines as you can think of if you feel like your current iteration could be better.
Be confident, be honest, and don’t hesitate to strut your stuff. The opening lines are all about making an impact, and there’s a variety of ways to do this. You can open with humour, you can open with an achievement that speaks for itself, or you can open with a reference. There’s room to experiment, so there’s no excuse for trying as hard as you can to think of what fits your bio best.
Be Partial Towards Recent Developments, but Don’t Hesitate to Discuss How Got You Here
Like a resume, the more current your bio is, the better. Make sure you include a sentence or two that tells people, at least vaguely, about where you are now and what you’re doing. It lets prospective interests know what you’re doing these days and whether your skillset is relevant to them.
While you might be tempted to list events in order of recency, don’t do that. Not every post is important, and not every move significant. Instead, if there’s a turning point in your professional development, such as a time when you switched fields three years ago, you’re better off addressing that.
It’s not as if you’ve got room to be long-winded, but you should still discuss what prompted the switch, so long as you were positively motivated. You can sneak in a line or two about how your prior experience empowers you in your current line of work as well.
Decide on a Tone and Keep It Consistent
A bio is a concise description and one that sees many iterations as your career evolves and your professional development progresses. If you’re used to cutting out and adding in individual lines (and even if you’re not), it’s good to give the whole thing a read over to see if you’re consistent.
While the right tone for you will depend entirely on what career you’re in and how you’re most comfortable expressing yourself, there are certain pointers. You shouldn’t be arrogant or overly informal; it’s much better to phrase your brags as subtly as possible and maintain a polite disposition. Achievements are more effective when mildly understated than they are when blown out of proportion, so make sure you maintain a humble tone.
Humor isn’t necessarily off the cards, but you have to balance it out with serious statements. Also, your best bet is tongue-in-cheek humor rather than something that might risk offending someone; remember, this is a professional piece.
Consistency also extends to whether or not you’re writing in first-person. Don’t go from I to they (first to third-person), or skip the pronoun altogether (implied the first person).
This of course is easier said than done, and if it’s not for you – there is no shame in hiring professional bio writers instead.
Don’t Forget to Inject some Personality into Your Writing
One of the most typical mistakes when writing a bio is being too formulaic in your approach. You find something that really works, so you copy the same structure or type out the entire thing in as neutral a tone as possible.
Nothing which worked for someone else needs to work just as well for you. Your Bio should be like your fingerprint, abstractly similar but entirely unique in itself. You have an entire lifetime of experiences at your disposal, so be sure to showcase as much of them as you can, as positively as you can.
Your writing conveys not only your experiences but also aspects of your outlook and who you are. You shouldn’t shy away from including stuff about your innermost goals and motivations to the extent that you’re comfortable. While you shouldn’t be too flowery in your use of language, don’t be afraid to use more complicated terms where there is merit to them.
Always Double Check Guidelines
The platform or portal you’re submitting your bio to might have specific guidelines for what’s considered a valid submission. Always make sure that you check all the boxes and that you haven’t included anything that they’ve disallowed.
This also means that you won’t be able to submit the same exact bio to every single prospect, but that should be standard practice as it is. Make sure you tailor your bio to the sort of opportunity you’re on the hunt for to give yourself the best possible chances.
We’ve already discussed how you shouldn’t pad your bio, but there’s more to a good bio than just keeping things simple. Your bio is meant to be a rich summary of your recent professional experiences, but you don’t need to mention every single thing you’ve already mentioned with your resume.
This brings us to another point: you should try to keep repetition between your bio and your resume to a minimum. That’s not to say there should be no overlap at all, but rather, that your bio should only further explore the most important parts of your resume, the parts you want a potential employer to focus on.
By emphasizing those tenures, you can draw attention to aspects of your development that may not have been adequately represented as just another bullet point in your CV or LinkedIn profile.
Don’t List Your Achievements
Recall what we said about trying to keep yourself sounding as down to earth as possible. If your bio reads like a list of things you’ve accomplished, you’re not doing it right.
Instead of leading every statement with what you are or what you’ve achieved, try to pivot to what you have to offer someone you’d want to establish a professional relationship with. Instead of talking about your skills and how you’ve acquired them, talk about what those skills can accomplish for someone working with you.
People want to see what value you bring to the table, so making your bio about what you have to give, rather than just what you have, is a great strategy to employ.
Add a Personal Touch
We’ve already discussed the importance of abandoning the formulaic approach, but a great bio goes further than that. A bio should demonstrate more than just professional experience; it’s a representation of who you are. As such, you can’t expect to paint a clear picture of yourself by talking about your career alone; you can and should include references to personal triumphs and milestones.
We’re obviously not talking about detailed narrations (you don’t have the words to spare, nor that much creative license), but you can definitely include distilled versions of them. Simply mentioning that you’re an aquaphobe learning how to swim, for example, can tell your employer plenty about the fact that you take adversity on the chin and that you have a mind to surmount obstacles.
Personal touches like these help highlight crucial aspects of your personality that might help distinguish you from other applicants, so it’s a good idea to include something about your life.
Another way you could benefit from a personal addition is to use it to demonstrate your more personable traits. This could be through humor, or a line or two about your charitable pursuits, or just what you enjoy doing in your free time. Either way, it helps paint you as more than just a robot with work experience, so be sure to make the most of it.
Maintain a Balance
So you’ve got to include aspects of your personality, personal pursuits, career progression, and current state of employment. While adequately covering all of those focus areas, you also have to flow so that your bio doesn’t read like a series of disconnected statements. And you have to keep to a very strict word count while doing all of the above.
This can prove daunting, even for the best of us, and that’s why bio writing is more art than science. It’s also why revising your bio is a very tedious process that can involve hours of brainstorming with very little to show for it.
Watch a short video to learn more about What is a Biography
Bio Writers to Make Your Look Like a Million Bucks
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