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How to Write a Sharp Professional Bio


Welcome to 2016!

The year ahead is yours for the taking. Maybe this time around you have a new year’s resolution and plan to stick with it. Regular exercise, eating better, starting a passion project — you can make it happen. I know you can.

Before you dive in, take a few minutes and clean up the body of work you created in 2015.

First, your LinkedIn profile. Here’s a fresh way to improve the summary section and explain the work that inspires you.

Second, your LinkedIn photo. Ask yourself:

  • Do I look/Am I dressed in a manner that’s too casual?
  • Do I have too much headroom between the top of my head and the top of the photo? (crop it)
  • Is the lighting poor? Does shadow cover some or all of my face? That’s no good.

New year. New photo.

Finally, revise your professional bio. You know, the one on your company’s website that describes what you do and where you received an education.

The professional bio, in my opinion, follows a simple formula for everyone from recent grads to people with work experience.

  1. The job title and role you currently have
  2. Short description of the current job
  3. Short description of past work/jobs
  4. List of a few hobbies/interests (not necessary but helps to show your personality)
  5. Your education (ex: where you attended college)

Your company might ask you to include other info or write the bio with a particular tone. Go with the flow but keep in mind the five-point list.

How to write a professional or executive bio — recent grad who’s new to a job

(1)John Doe is a junior account manager at Acme Industries who supports various projects in our new acquisitions division. (2)He specializes in data analytics, social media management and event logistics. (3)In college, John co-founded AcmeGo+, a startup that monitored traffic flow across campus to help students avoid crowds and save time. (4)Outside of work, John plays classical guitar and grows vegetables in a small garden on the roof of his apartment. (5)He has a B.A. in philosophy from Big State University.

Deeper Insight

Let’s go back to the five-point list.

  1. The job title and role you currently have
    • One clean line sums it up
  2. Short description of the current job
    • Provide specific job duties (ex: social media management)
  3. Short description of past work/jobs
    • Again, specifics. Tell people not only where you worked but also what you did.
  4. List a few hobbies/interests (not necessary but helps to show your personality)
    • Instead of “guitar,” I wrote “classical guitar.” Instead of “likes to garden,” I wrote “grows vegetables in a small garden on the roof of his apartment.” Details make you more interesting!
  5. Your education (ex: where you attended college)

How to write a professional or executive bio — someone with work experience

(1)Jane Doe is a senior account executive at Acme Industries who leads our renewable energy division. (2)She focuses on bringing solar power to new industries and oversees current solar projects. (3)Prior to Acme, Jane worked for Big Nonprofit on a team that improved the quality of drinking water in third-world countries. She also spent time at Little Nonprofit and studied the impact of oil spills on a local seafood industry. (4)Outside of work, Jane likes to ride her bike around Houston with no particular destination and read mystery novels (she’s also writing one of her own). (5)She has a B.A. in art history from Tech University.

Deeper Insight

Again, our five-point list.

  1. The job title and role you currently have
    • One clean line sums it up
  2. Short description of the current job
    • Provide specific job duties (ex: oversees current solar projects)
  3. Short description of past work/jobs
    • Since Jane has worked for a bit, she described her role at the past two jobs.
  4. List a few hobbies/interests (not necessary but helps to show your personality)
    • Instead of “ride her bike,” I wrote “ride her bike around Houston with no particular destination.” Instead of “read books,” I wrote “read mystery novels (she’s also writing one of her own).” So much more colorful this way!
  5. Your education (ex: where you attended college)
    • Again, lead with the job you have. Finish out with education.
    • Wait, shouldn’t it be a degree in Art History instead of art history? Nope.

Good luck refreshing your professional bio!

 

Featured photo: Gratisography

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