Why Professional Bios Matter + How to Write One

It’s 2019, people. Now that its customary for employers to scour the internet to learn about job candidates, it’s important that we actively tell them who we are and what we’re about career-wise, rather than rely on what narratives our social media presence(s) might create about us. Writing a professional bio can help us control the narrative by stating your accomplishments, skills, and goals in a professional format. If you want to attract employers, clients, or professional peer connections and the above is not reason enough to convince you to write a professional bio, below are what some experts and other bloggers write about its importance.

Forbes magazine writes, “What you choose to highlight may play a role in others deciding to follow you, call you in for an interview or invite you to participate in an event.” Lindsay Kolowich of Hubspot.com writes, “Most people don’t think about their professional bio until they’re suddenly asked to ‘shoot one over via email,’ and have approximately one afternoon to come up with it.” Adding to the above reasons, I proffer the process of writing a professional bio gives you an opportunity to rediscover your past accomplishments, hone in on your current career goals, and sort what skills you believe will best bolster those goals.

Getting Started

Many people agree that one of the hardest subjects to write about is ourselves. Sure, we can write about our opinions all day long, but writing about past accomplishments, skills, and future goals is a different process, and, in some cases, a grueling one. Much of that struggle can come from the implied requirement to craft that writing into professional language that will hold the interest of employers, peers, and clients. Other concerns are whether to write in first or third person; how long the bio should be; and how personal it should get. The first step to writing a bio, however, is obvious. Numerous sources advise starting with your name, followed by your job title or a branding statement about your expertise or who you are.

Not so obvious as starting your bio with your name is figuring out what point of view to write it in. Third person is recommended by most sources, asserting the point of view carries a professional and objective tone. According to wikiHow, “Experts recommend that you always write professional bios in the third person.” Regardless of this advice, I’ve noticed a trend of first-person bios all over LinkedIn. Perhaps writers of these bios perceived writing in third person as artificial; after all, the general perception is that bios are autobiographical, and not written by another person.

“For the love of God and the information highway, please write your bio in first person — we all know you wrote it anyway” – Danielle LaPorte, retrieved from JenuineMarketing.com

Several personal marketing sources endorse first-person-written bios. Ultimately, the point of view to write your bio is your decision.

All websites are not equal. According to general advice from varied sources, bio lengths should vary depending on where it will be posted, due to restricted character lengths, audience type, and website type (e.g., professionally-geared or socially-geared websites).

HubSpot offers excellent bio examples of various lengths to satisfy the standards of different online platforms from Twitter to LinkedIn to a personal website.

A few lines about your personal interests and activities outside of work is generally recommend. Such information gives humanity to the otherwise resume-like style of a professional bio. Referred to as “humanizing details,” by wikiHow, these few lines can potentially create likability and connections between yourself and a potential employer, client, or peer. This should not need stating, but, please, keep it clean. Don’t share any taboo or potentially offensive interests or activities in these few lines.

Guides to get you started

Thankfully for us all, in the age of LinkedIn, which is now over ten years old, there are many guides for writing professional bios. Below are some resources I’ve explored myself to update my current LinkedIn bio. Soon after this post, I’ll share my results, so look out for that.

Forbes offers a template to aid with the bio-writing process.

Some other words of advice

Beyond the above aids for writing your professional bio, I personally offer the following advice:

  1. Clean up your social media presence if need be. Do you really think employers will stop at your LinkedIn page? No, they’ll likely Google you – it’s probably the most entertaining part of the employee-searching process. It’s never too late (or too early) to clean up your online presence for the sake of your professional image. – After doing so, try not to create any future online faux pas.
  2. Actively update your bio. As you advance in skills and make more accomplishments, be sure to add those to your bio.
  3. Post videos and write articles. Video is extremely popular online, as we all know. A video showing a product you made or an event you attended can capture an employer or client’s eye when most of your peers are relying on a written bio. Articles can also bring traffic to your bio, whether it resides on your website or on a social media site.
Check out this new video resume trend.
  1. End your bio with a “Specialties” or “Skills” listing. This is a quick, go-to, eye-catching area to briefly list your skills. Sure, LinkedIn and other sites provide specific areas for skills to be listed; however, it does not hurt to repeat them, as they are worth bragging about.

Further reading

The Professional Bio Template That Makes Everyone Sound Accomplished: https://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2017/01/26/the-professional-bio-template-that-makes-everyone-sound-accomplished/#3b525a819d1f

Video resume as a hot hiring trend: https://skillroads.com/blog/video-resume-as-a-hot-hiring-trend

 

 

 

 

 

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