How to write a professional bio

Writing a professional bio

Have you ever read a professional bio that left your jaw on the floor? You’re not alone.

A polished professional bio on your personal website can make all the difference. That’s the between a door opening or remaining closed. Your bio represents who you are as a professional and what you hope to achieve.

But how do you go about writing an effective bio for yourself if you’re never done it before? What should you include? How long should it be? Should you add a picture?

This article will save you hours of agonising over what to put in your professional bio. Discover tips and tricks for writing an awesome professional bio. The result will get you noticed by recruiters, networks and potential clients.

Here’s what we’re going to cover in this post…

What is a professional bio?

A professional bio is essentially an About You. It shines a spotlight on your skills and experience.

Your professional bio can be placed anywhere. You might have it on your LinkedIn page, social media profiles, professional website or resume. A typical professional bio incorporates sections on:

  • Personal details
  • Education/training
  • Work experience
  • Technical Skills & Expertise

A standard professional bio paints a picture of your credentials. This allows you to include your professional bio in your LinkedIn profile or your resume for career sites. Keep it general enough that you don’t have to tailor it too much every time you use it.

Your professional bio needs to be more than a summary of your career. It’s an opportunity to present yourself to potential employers and clients in the best light.

And if you’re particularly interested in LinkedIn, you might be interested in our post on the simple LinkedIn mistakes you might be making.

Why is a professional bio important?

A website bio is an integral part of any professional’s toolbox. A well crafted, professional bio stand you out from other candidates. It establishes credibility and expertise in the eyes of potential employers and clients.

Your professional bio is your first impression to potential employers and clients. Whether you’re hoping for job interviews or networking, you should assume that people are going to Google you. Your professional bio is the foundation on which you build your personal brand. It’s what encourages people to contact you.

There’s a lot of competition out there. A compelling personal brand is critical. Your professional bio should highlight the aspects of your capabilities and knowledge that set you apart from the competition.

Your personal bio tells the reader that your job is more than a way to make ends meet. Your career is your passion. It’s something that brings you fulfilment and satisfaction. Your professional bio can open doors to new business and networking opportunities. So it shouldn’t be an afterthought or something tacked onto your resume. Instead, invest some time into crafting a profile that makes an impact.

How to write a professional bio for LinkedIn or a website

It's worth investing time in writing a professional bio
Your profile could be the difference between someone calling or not

A professional bio is a great way to get your foot in the door with potential customers and employers. To make a good impression, you need a bio that’s professional and succinct. Here’s how to write a professional bio that will impress the people that matter…

1. Start with an introduction

The first step in writing an engaging website bio is an introduction. If you have just one thing you want your target audience to remember about your bio, it’s your name. So start by stating who you are. If you’re using the third person, make sure your first and last name are the first two words in your bio.

2. Mention your company or brand name

Consider the goal of your professional bio. Want a new job? Want to be seen as the right candidate for a project.
People want to know who they are dealing with. As well as your name, get the brand name or company up front. You can also reference another company or brand you’ve worked for, if it helps to highlight your professional accomplishments.

3. Explain the specifics of your current position

The reader is unlikely to be familiar with the specifics of your current position. Offering context to your primary responsibilities can give a sense of who you are. Context also explain why they should be interested in you.
Whether you’re a CEO, middle manager or junior associate, explaining the specifics of your job description is an important part of building a personal brand.

4. Include personal achievements

Don’t be afraid to talk up your accomplishments. And by accomplishments, we don’t just mean promotions or Employee of the Month nominations. Talk about your contributions that have made an impact. On your team. On the company.

5. Let your target audience know your personal goals and passions

Your skills and expertise are important, but they’re not the only thing that people want from your bio.
Your mission statement is an important part of your bio. Whether you call it a mission statement or not, paint a picture for potential employers and clients. What matters to you? How does that affect them?

Your professional bio is an opportunity to explain to your target audience why you do what you do. What excites you about your work? What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Consider the values and personal goals that drive you. Tell us the key principles governing your professional life.
Filling in these blanks will give your target audience a better understand of what’s most important to you.

6. Talk about your personal interests

Are you an avid traveller? Do you blog in your spare time? You can include these personal details in your professional bio as well.

People want to know more about the person behind the professional. Touching on your hobbies and personal interests in your bio gives your target audience a glimpse into your personal life.

Knowing about you as a person can make you more relatable. You become a person, not another cog in the corporate machine. You can include the following in your bio:

  • Your family
  • Your hometown
  • What you do in your spare time
  • Projects on the side

How long should your professional bio be?

The general rule of thumb is that your professional bio should be between 250 to 300 words. However, this varies greatly depending on industry and where you publish the profile.

For example, if you plan to post a resume to LinkedIn or a job site then it’s best to stick with a short bio. Recruiters and hiring managers live for short and concise resumes.

If you publish your bio online on a company or personal website, by all means expand on the details.

It’s a good idea to have different versions of your professional bios. Different platforms may require your bio to be at a certain length. Have a short, medium and long version of your bio.

Your short bio can be a one-sentence statement. You can use your short bio either as an elevator pitch or on social media sites.

Your medium bio should be no longer than a paragraph. It should cover all your essential information.
Your longer bio is the one that should be featured in your personal website. It should include supplementary information and summarise your personal brand.

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Is it better to write your professional bio in the first person or third person?

Browsing through the bios of other professionals, you might notice half of them describe their story in the first person. The other half prefers the third person. Which is the recommended approach?
It depends.

Resumes are written in the third person. So if you see your bio as an extension of your resume, it should be third-person: “Steven is a website copywriter in Sydney.”

On the other hand, the first-person narrative feels more personal and engaging. Now, you’re speaking directly to your target audience. “I love being a direct response copywriter because…”

Also, writing in the third person can feel disingenuous. The reader might resent you trying to “trick” them that youre bio was written by someone else.

A good rule of thumb is think about the place your bio will be read. In social media, for instance, the key word is “social”. You don’t walk into social situations talking about yourself in the third person. You wouldn’t talk about yourself in the third person on Facebook. So why would you do it on LinkedIn?

That said, you don’t want to write “I”, “I”, “I”. You can avoid that by focusing on your target audience. Talk about them, not you. Explain how your prospective clients will benefit by choosing to work with you.

What makes a good professional bio on LinkedIn or a website?

No you have your basics covered, it’s time to take your professional bio up a notch. You can add spice to ensure your professional bio is an unforgettable masterpiece.

1. Keep it short and to the point

It’s easy to get carried away when writing about yourself. Don’t forget your audience has a limited attention span. You don’t want to bore your target audience with pages and pages.
Your professional bio should give your website visitors a taste of what makes you unique while keeping them engaged.

2. Update your professional bio

Over the course of your career, you’re bound to develop new skills. You’ll work on different projects with different clients.

For that reason, you’ll outgrow your professional bio. Update your bio at least twice a year to keep it fresh and relevant.

3. Attach a professional picture

A picture is worth a thousand words. Adding a high-resolution photo next to your content can enhance the key message you want to send with your professional bio. Whatever you do, don’t settle for a selfie. If you want to build a personal brand, make the time to get professional photos taken.

Again, the medium is important. You want a good photo for LinkedIn or a conference handout. However, it’s not always the done thing to include a photo with a resume.

4. Add a clear call-to-action

Your professional bio is a marketing vehicle for building a strong personal brand. Like any other content, it should be designed to convert traffic.

Always conclude your professional bio with a call to action. It’s up to you to decide the action you want readers to take. It might be to connect with you on social media. Or maybe to visit your website.

Tips to consider when writing your professional bio

It’s never an easy task to write about yourself. Self-promotion can be daunting even for the most self-assured person. But it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming.

Here are a few tips to ensure every detail about your professional life shines through in your bio…

1. Stick to norms

Sometimes it’s okay to stick to tradition. Bios tend to adhere to a formula. That means you don’t need to craft a literary masterpiece for your professional bio to stand out.

It can be enough to pain vivid word pictures. Or you could summarise the feats that set you apart from other professionals.

2. Be honest

In order to be taken seriously as a professional, it’s important that you present your authentic self. Don’t embellish your skills or falsify your professional information. If you were caught lying on your bio, your credibility will suffer as a result.

3. Don’t compare yourself to others

When it comes to your professional bio, it’s a trap to compare yourself to others. There are stacks of awe-inspiring professional bios floating around the internet. But your story is what matters here.
Focus on being true to yourself rather than what others may be doing.

Get inspired by other bios

Even writing your own professional story might not spare you writer’s block. If you’re feeling stuck, bust out of the rut by mimicking the structure of other bios. No, don’t plagiarise someone else’s bio. However, if they have a good formula, you can riff off that for your own professional bio.

Get a second opinion

When you think your bio is ready ask someone else to read through it as well. That should be someone who has good writing skills. They’ll be able to point out typos and grammatical errors. They can also give an opinion on the structure of the bio.

Finally, they’ll determine how easy it is to follow your key message. If they understand what you’re trying to say, then chances are everyone else will too.

What the hell is a personal brand and why is personal branding important?

These days everyone is talking about a personal brand, but what is personal branding?

Simply put, your personal brand is the combination of personal qualities that shape how others see you. Put another way…

What other people say about you when you’re not there is your personal brand. So you can only influence your personal brand. Ultimately, it’s up to others how they describe you.

You can influence your strong and clear personal brand by:

  1. Knowing exactly what you stand for
  2. Acting consistently with that

What makes a compelling personal brand?

When you look for a professional, are you happy to work with anyone who has the relevant qualifications or experience? Or would you rather work with someone who approaches their work a particular way?

For example, would you like to work with:

  • Someone strong enough to speak the truth to you?
  • Someone respectful of your personal time?
  • Someone whose attention to detail is second to none?
  • Someone who adds humour to the equation?

Most bios are bland. He did this. She did that. He works here. She’s won this award.
But people buy from people, real people. A strong personal brand signals what you bring to the table above the qualifications and experience that many others have.

What else should I include in my professional bio?

Counterarguments

There’s something you might not think to include in your professional bio. These are the counterarguments to any negative stereotypes the reader might have about people in your profession.

For example, people often think real estate agents are pushy and overly confident. If you were a real estate agency, you might think of mentioning your ability to listen. That could give the reader a different impression.

Or people often think lawyers are money-hungry. As a lawyer, you might include something about your commitment to social justice. That could help the reader see you as a lawyer who can see beyond fees.

Proof

Of course, it’s all very well to say you listen. To convince the reader you actually do listen, it’s essential to include proof.

For example, if you’re a lawyer who believes in social justice, you could include a case study of your pro-bono cases.

If you’re a real estate agent who listens, you could include a testimonial from a client who mentions your listening.

Testimonials are a strong form of proof because people like to hear what other people think. And these testimonials don’t always have to come from clients. They could also come from colleagues, partners, or professionals in your field.

Testimonials aren’t the only form of proof for a professional. You could also use statistics, qualifications or evidence of awards you’ve won.

Professional bio examples from websites and LinkedIn

One thing you should notice about the professional bio examples below is that there’s no “creative writing” involved. They’re to-the-point and effective, but they’re not bland or impersonal, either.

These profiles manage to be interesting to read and effective in a few ways. However, embellishing with fiction isn’t one of them.

Example of a professional bio for a real estate agent

Many real estate agents attract clients with promises that selling their homes will be easy. This profile from an agent’s website makes an immediate claim of difference for the real estate agent:

Example of a real estate agent's bio
A striking opening to a bio

The profile stands out from the first words by taking a contrarian view. It grabs the reader by saying the reality is different from what you’ve been told

By speaking the truth from the outset, the profile counters a common belief that real estate agents aren’t truthful.
This agent has impressive social proof, so his bio uses it:

Social proof in a real estate agent bio
Proof helps to overcome doubts in the reader

Criticising the competition isn’t a good look. However, it’s true that many agents simply upload an ad for a property, wait for a buyer and collect their commission. So by mentioning the problem, this agent is making sure the seller will ask competing agents difficult questions:

Example of a real estate agent's bio
Educating the reader to ask the competition tough questions

Example of a professional bio for a salesperson

On the face of it, your profile is about you. But the reader doesn’t really care about you. They care about what you can do for them.

This LinkedIn profile bio starts out on the right foot by talking about the reader. The reader needs to make data-driven decisions. Their margins are under pressure. This is how automating processes will help you. (This salesman sells automation.)

Example of a salesperson bio
This bio is more about the reader than the author

Example of a professional bio for a LinkedIn profile writer

This profile of a professional LinkedIn profile writer includes an element of storytelling, which is engaging. And that story includes key facts. Those facts include qualifications (14 years in recruitment) and personal qualities (listening skills, love of biography). Then the profile connects those things to the benefit to the reader (presenting them uniquely).

Bio for a professional profile writer
A bio that is itself an example of the subject’s promise to her clients

At the same time, the profile serves as an example of what it promises. The author addresses a key objection of her clients — they don’t like blowing their own horn. She counters by saying that a good profile isn’t really about you; it’s about your clients.

And she’s subtly proving that point by writing a bio of herself that is actually about what her clients want and need.

Example of a professional bio on LinkedIn for a business owner

Writing a personal profile is partly about deciding what to leave out. This business owner doesn’t work in sport. As a result, he could have left out that he was once a professional football player. However, he’s found a way to turn that experience into a business virtue.

Few of his competitors will have this in their history. As a result, by making sport relevant to business, he’s made himself interesting and memorable.

professional bio for a business owner
This could have been left out. Instead, it makes the subject more interesting.

Later in his profile, he demonstrates the secret of a successful profile: it’s never all about you. People are interested in the problems you solve — the problems that they have:

example professional bio for a business owner
You can’t go wrong by opening with your readers’ problems

Get noticed with your professional bio on your website or LinkedIn

A professional bio is an important aspect of your online presence. It reflects who you are and what you do in the most concise way possible.

Writing a good one takes time and effort but it will be worth it if you want to make a great first impression online. When it comes down to it, investing a couple of hours on this task will pay off with what could be years worth of benefits for your career and personal brand.

If you want to learn to write your own LinkedIn bio, check out our course. It’s perfect for you:
 

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