From building your personal brand to standing out in the job market, any serious professional should be in possession of an equally professional bio.
Why? A bio serves as a concise introduction to your core values, credentials, goals, and achievements. Think of it as a digital elevator pitch — a quick way to show stakeholders why they should be clamoring to work with you.
Despite theoretically being experts on ourselves, many people struggle to write their own bios. Are you overselling? Underselling? A tendency to overthink can cause writing paralysis. That’s why we’ve put together a list of four things to put into your next professional bio and two things you should leave out.
Things to Leave in:
1. Your Personality
A master’s degree or a string of successful start-ups might be impressive to have under your belt, but it’s not unique. To truly stand out, your bio needs to showcase your personality as well as your achievements. Business executive Christopher Roy Garland’s site is a perfect example of this, offering a great balance of accomplishments alongside personal interests.
People often ask whether it’s appropriate to be humorous or playful in your bio. If humor aligns with your brand image, go for it! Research has shown that appropriate use of humor can increase visitor recall and help set you apart from competitors. However, steer clear of jokes that could be seen as divisive or insensitive.
2. Your Greatest Achievements
Whether it’s on LinkedIn or your personal website, your bio’s primary function is to sell a product: you. Listing your greatest accomplishments will show visitors both what you’re capable of and where your ambitions lie. One way to do this is to create a timeline of dot points that map out your professional journey thus far. This option keeps things contained and concise and is most appropriate for shorter bios.
For a platform like LinkedIn, however, a more effective way to list your highlights is to tell a story. Using third-person, create a narrative detailing the road to each of your professional and personal milestones. Don’t be afraid to use a splash of humor or add in some quirky anecdotes to make things memorable.
3. Your Goals
Just as important as your achievements are the things you’ve yet to accomplish. By listing your goals, you’re showing stakeholders that you’re ambitious and know where you want to be in five years’ time. If you’re in the job market or trying to grow your business, listing your goals can also help you forge connections with stakeholders who are interested in achieving the same outcomes.
Listing your goals publicly can even have the bonus of accountability. Once you’ve published your goals, you’re more likely to follow through.
4. Your Contact Information
Once you’ve written a witty and captivating personal bio, don’t forget to add in all your contact details and update them regularly. This will improve your SEO and give your audience the chance to engage with you on multiple platforms.
Things to Leave Out:
1. Your Lesser Achievements
It may be tempting to list every one of your achievements from infancy to current on your bio. Don’t. Leaning on the fact that you won the eleventh-grade science fair will take away the focus from your more recent achievements and give the reader the idea that you’re not confident in adulthood accomplishments.
2. Your Extended Employment History
As above, delving too deeply into your history can detract from the now and cause the reader to lose interest. Forget your first job at Subway. The professional consensus is not to go back further than 15 years on a resume. An exception may be if an older job is exceptionally relevant to your current field, but place the most emphasis on your last few roles.
3. Your Political Opinions
Best practice is to avoid contentious subjects on a professional bio. Regardless of your stance, it’s difficult to gauge which comments may come across as inappropriate or distasteful to stakeholders. Your personal opinion could also be seen to reflect the values of your business and associates, landing you in hot water with peers and superiors.
An exception to this rule is if politics form a part of your business. For example, if your mission is to create a line of sustainable clothing that fights to promote fairer labor conditions in third-world countries, it would be pertinent to discuss the political agenda behind this.
Using the framework above, you’re now equipped to write a professional bio that will enhance your personal brand online.