How to write a professional bio

You are a professional if you are a member of a vocation or occupation that has specialised education, knowledge, skills or experience, usually with tertiary qualifications and industry experience.

Your bio (or professional branding statement) should communicate the essence of who you are.

Your brand reflects your professional reputation, i.e. what you are known for (or who you would like to be known as). A good reputation provides you with a distinction of positive characteristics and achievements, sets you apart from others in the competitive field of employment and work.

Writing your professional bio is challenging, as you need to stand out from all the other traditionally written bios out there. One approach is to break it down into a series of key components.

  • your speciality – who you are. Here you need to provide the broad category, but also specialities and expertise that you have developed or have experience in. This is a process of being more and more specific as to the speciality, and you may have a number of theses specialities. However it is preferable to focus on like clusters of specialities that relate to the purpose of what you are writing for and the audience.
  • your services – what you do. Here you can outline your specific skills and processes that you have competence in.
  • your audience – who you work for or want to work for
  • your best characteristics – what you are known for or want to to be known for. Something unique and special helps to distinguish you.

You can use your bio in many ways. You may wish to target different bios to suit each specific audience. Here are some examples of how you can use your bio:

  • incorporate elements in a cover letter for a job application or consulting proposal
  • include in personal profiles in online job search messages
  • include in online profiles, for example on LinkedIn profile
  • include in your resume as a summary bio up front
  • include in your ‘elevator’ speech, i.e. a prepared really quick pitch (usually 30 seconds) to people who may be important in your future career when you meet them at a function (or in an elevator!)
  • provide to those introducing you when you make a presentation (don’t be shy)
  • in job interviews (“tell me about yourself”)
  • in presentations or pitches for consulting or work projects
  • as your bio for published articles (including professional journal articles) or even guest blog posts
  • use in networking functions when you meet new people.

The process of writing out your bio helps you focus and think through “Who am I?” and “Why am I in this professional field”.

It may take many iterations to get something you like, so having gone through the process you are ready when a situation arises, such as a request to provide your bio.

You may wish to develop some variations, depending on the audience or the specific skills you want to emphasise. Most people have at least two or three specialities that are distinctly different.

Action: Take steps to write you professional bio today.

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