Blog: Personal Branding & Career Insights

How To Write A Better
Professional Bio

Professional Bio - What's your story?

As you advance in your career, a well-written professional bio can be an important part of your personal brand. A bio is often used when pursuing new clients, investors, speaking engagements and media opportunities. It can also be used when pursuing a board seat (though that version has a different focus form a more standard one) and sometimes for a job search (but usually in conjunction with a resume). And importantly, companies, nonprofits and professional associations often feature bios (and headshots) of executive leaders and boards of directors/advisors.

Writing about yourself is a challenge — and writing in a way that’s compelling for broad audiences and uses can seem impossible. Here are some strategies and tips to ensure you write an informative and engaging bio that speaks to your core strengths, experience and background.

Content

An effective professional bio gives a good, overall sense of who you are, detailing expertise, industry specialties and how you got to where you are today. Other distinguishing elements may include key accomplishments, board roles (including committee leadership and membership), major volunteer positions, additional roles (e.g., adjunct professor), notable professional memberships, awards, publications and certifications, as well as education.

As with any career-related materials, articulate your value. Don’t just say what you do, show how it’s important through impact and key results achieved. Have you led digital transformation that had a major impact on revenue? Did you develop go-to-market strategy? Oversee M&A to drive global expansion? These are the details that matter. (Note: The level of detail may depend on bio’s intended audience and use.)

When writing a bio, consider its purpose when determining what order to present information. Include highly relevant copy towards the beginning of the document. For instance, if pursuing a board role  and creating a board bio, don’t bury your board experience at the bottom of the page.

Style

Length

While you should prepare a longer, detailed bio as well as abridged alternatives (e.g., if someone is making an introduction and asked you for a brief description or for the end of an article you’ve written), no version should exceed one page in length. It’s a professional profile, so think of it as an overview, not an exhaustive document.

Voice

The most common voice for a bio is third person: John Smith is Chief Financial Officer of XYZ Company. This is also the most formal. However, depending on the target audience/s and use, organizations increasingly allow for (and even encourage) first person voice: I’m John Smith, Chief Financial Officer of XYZ Company. While much less formal, this style often highlights a more personable side of the individual and can set a more approachable tone.

Prose

A bio isn’t a laundry list of past jobs. While bullet points are highly effective for organizing information on a resume, they’re not the best on a bio. Instead, use prose that flows seamlessly between topics as you tell your career story. Begin each paragraph with distinct transitions to facilitate topic changes and keep readers more interested than if you repeat Jane Adams…, Ms. Adams… or Jane… ad nauseam.

While a headshot should never be included on a resume for a US-based company, a bio – much like a LinkedIn profile – has wide-ranging use, so an image may be used. If you include a headshot, make sure it’s recent, professional-looking and high-resolution.

Consistency

If your bio links to other relevant information about you, like your LinkedIn profile, social media accounts, personal website etc., review the outside content to ensure that it aligns with what’s contained in your bio and is up-to-date with facts. Linking to something that hasn’t been updated in quite a while is a less than ideal way to present yourself.

Think of your bio as a document that evolves with you. As you advance in your career and add to your accomplishments, revisit your bio occasionally to ensure that its current and speaks to who you are as a professional today (not several years ago). Remember to update titles, board roles, professional designations, certifications etc.

While you may have different versions of your bio that adjust for emphasis, audience and depth, in every version, the core information should be consistent, just as it should be with any other career-related materials.

Tell Your Story

Focus on telling a story about the highly valuable professional you are today and draw from compelling information in your background to reinforce that narrative. Going forward, adopt some of the messaging as part of how you introduce and talk about yourself too. In virtual and in-person meetings, events, speaking engagements, interviews etc., what you say should align with bio messaging, LinkedIn profile content etc. Above all, consistency is key to a strong personal brand!

To learn how Point Road Group can help you tell your story, contact us