Writing a professional bio: Tell the story of who you are
Landing a new job requires a well-crafted resume. We also advise candidates that writing a professional bio is just as important.
Good resumes highlight skills and experience that align with a specific job description. By contrast, a bio uses a narrative style to portray job seekers more generally as professional persons. The more senior the position being sought, the more critical a good bio becomes. If you seek an executive seat, a well-written bio is a must. In fact, it’s so important that many executives outsource their bio to a copywriter or personal branding specialist.
Job seekers find a well-written professional bio useful to leverage networking opportunities, which matters because a high number of job openings are filled without ever appearing on job boards or ads. Following up with networking contacts by sending a resume won’t be as effective as the bio. It reminds them what a good addition you would be to any team and gives them something about you to share.
9 tips for writing a professional bio that sells you beyond the resume
Writing a professional bio can seem daunting. Follow these nine steps for success…
1. Don’t rehash your resume
Yes, you will state a few basic facts about your experience, but the power of an effective professional bio is showing your heart — why you do what you do, what inspires you. The goal is to tell the story of the kind of person you are more holistically than your resume can. A bio helps prospective employers envision your soft skills, your key strengths, and your value proposition.
2. Follow an outline
Brand and marketing strategist Alex Honeysett provided a professional bio template in his Forbes article on the topic. He also included his own bio as an example of how to use the template. Follow his framework to get started.
3. Write your bio like a storyteller
Your first sentences should make readers want to keep reading to learn more about you. Consider using a short quote, either what someone else has said about you, or what you have said, advises Meg Guiseppi, writing for Executive Career Brand. Think of yourself as the main character and refer to yourself in the third person, not first person. Use active verbs, not passive. Avoid tentative language: don’t say that you try to do or desire to do something; rather, assert what you do.
4. Write in a natural tone
When writing a professional bio, double check to make sure it has a warmth usually missing from a resume, yet not cross the line into inappropriate informality. A conversational style is good, but chatty is not. Refer to yourself by your last name, not your first. Not only is it more professional, it will be easier to remember. There are lots of Emilys out there, for example, but fewer Robinsons.
5. Be consistent when writing a professional bio
“The writing should come from your own voice and follow a consistent theme reinforcing your [personal] brand attributes,” writes Guiseppi. “For instance, if you’re known for turning around failing businesses, weave that driver throughout your mini-career stories.” Also, remember that while your professional bio is different from your resume and LinkedIn profile, you should sound like the same person across them all. Once you have a bio written, you can draw from it to create social media profiles. Which leads us to the next point…
6. Create three versions
Your toolbox should have a one-page, a one-paragraph, and a two-line version of your professional bio. Each will be useful in different settings. The shorter forms will draw from the long one. The two-liner will be especially useful on social media or under your name when you publish a LinkedIn article or guest blog post.
7. Include links
Have you won an award in your industry or published an article? Create a hyperlink within the bio so a hiring manager can see evidence of your awesomeness with one click. Otherwise, they may not connect the dots.
8. Keep it fresh
Even after you land the job, your professional bio will serve you well if you keep it up to date. You’ll need it if you are seeking speaking opportunities in your area of expertise, positioning yourself as an industry resource, or receiving an award. Honeysett recommends creating reminders to revisit your bio for possible updates every six months.
9. Season with the personal.
Mentioning your non-work pastimes and interests at the end can illustrate personal attributes and your humanity. However, treat the personal like salt in a stew — a little improves the flavor, too much ruins it.
Beyond the bio…
Whether you’re a professional looking to make your next career move, or you’re searching for your next all-star employee, Bradsby Group can help. We have deep expertise in a variety of industries, and our network is nationwide from our offices in Denver and Houston.
Reach out today to let us know how we can help you achieve your hiring or career goals.