If you're a professional, chances are you already have or need a professional bio. But what is a professional bio and how do you write a short and concise one that actually explains who you are and what you do in a compelling way?
What Is a Professional Biography?
A professional bio, in short, is an explanation of who you are and what you do. It's essentially a summary of who are you as a professional so as to present yourself in the best possible and most interesting light.
Think of your professional biography like a sales pitch. You need to be able to quickly and concisely let people know who you are and what you do, and make it interesting enough to entice them to know more in a matter of seconds. But rather than rattling this off as an elevator pitch, you're writing it out in just a few sentences (though it can sometimes be much longer, depending on where it's going).
Your professional bio should be just as engaging as it is informative — and it should be able to be used in a variety of places.
For example, your professional biography may be used for the following:
- A personal website
- A blog page
- Your company's website
- A description of you in another form of company literature
- Your LinkedIn summary
- A speaker one sheet (should you be a speaker)
- A social media page
- An author byline (should you author any writing)
- A portfolio
- A description of you in a brochure
- A description of you on a book jacket (should you write a book)
How Do I Write a Bio About Myself?
Writing about yourself isn't necessarily easy — even though studies show that we, as humans, love talking about ourselves. In fact, one study suggests that talking about ourselves actually activates the same areas of the brain that light up when we're eating good food and even having sex; self-disclosure can be just as gratifying, giving us a neurological buzz.
As Scientific American put it: "Why, in a world full of ideas to discover, develop, and discuss, do people spend the majority of their time talking about themselves? Recent research suggests a simple explanation: Because it feels good."
But while talking about ourselves might feel good, putting all of our skills and experiences into written words can be difficult — especially when we're trying to say a lot with only a little space and trying not to sound pompous while doing it.
So what should a biography include and how do you write a good bio?
A biography should include the following ingredients.
- Your bio should include an introduction of yourself, meaning your full name and title. You'll want to be sure that you're introducing yourself first and foremost, before diving into any details at all.
- Your bio should include an explanation of your work in more specific detail. You don't need to go too heavy on the details here, but you should explain what exactly your job title means. If you're an editor, for example, are you an editor for a magazine or a brand — who is your audience and what kind of content are you churning out?
- Your bio should include some humanizing details to give it personality: hobbies and personal interests. While you don't want to overshare, you do want to personalize your bio because, after all, you're only human. Try to think of hobbies and personal interests that align with your career goals, too, to show that you're really passionate about your work.
- Your bio should include a call to action. Your call to action might encourage people to find you on social media, check out your blog, contact you for services or something else, depending on the nature of your work.
- Your bio should include your contact information and/or your social media handles. This way people can find you and connect with you after reading your bio.
In order to write a good bio, you can follow these steps.
1. Know Your Audience
Know for whom you're writing your bio. If you're a writer, perhaps you want readers to be able to follow your writing in all of the outlets for which you write. Or perhaps you want editors to be able to find you and hire you for more work. If you're a wedding photographer, perhaps you want to direct couples to your portfolio that showcases your work so they might consider giving you a gig.
Whatever the case, know to whom you'd like to appeal, and be sure to tailor your bio for them without skewing the facts. Share who you are and why you're valuable to those readers.
Be sure to keep your bio short, sweet and to the point. While some biographies are much longer (such as blog or book bios), your standard professional bio should only be a few sentences. Two to three sentences should cover who you are and what you do without overwhelming a reader.
3. Exude Enthusiasm
You'll want to make sure that your passion for your work shines through in your biography. You can do this by sharing any awards you may have received that showcase your hard work, or by sharing hobbies and interests that align with your work. You don't want the biography to be another dry and dull archetypical explanation of your career — it should be unique to you.
What Are Some Sample Biographies?
If you're still stuck with writer's block, here are three sample biographies from Fairygodboss employees that you can check out for reference.
1. AnnaMarie Houlis, Fairygodboss Contributor, Journalist and Travel Blogger at HerReport.org
"I’m Re, an insatiably impassioned journalist, an audacious advocate for women and an adventure aficionado. I have an affinity for impulsive solo travel and a proclivity for traversing parts of this world people advise against. My keen cultural curiosity feeds my impetus to travel, and my travels whet an abiding curiosity. Simply, travel is my medication and, at the same time, a cyclic, unabated addiction. I spend my time writing about women’s issues and empowerment from the far reaches of the globe (and my travels doing it) — most of which you can read on the blog or on my portfolio, here."
2. Georgene Huang, CEO and Co-Founder of Fairygodboss
"Georgene Huang is obsessed with improving the workplace for women. She’s the CEO and Co-founder of Fairygodboss, a marketplace where professional women looking for jobs, career advice and the inside scoop on companies meet employers who believe in gender equality. Previously she ran the enterprise business at Dow Jones and was a Managing Director at Bloomberg Ventures. She is a regular contributor to Forbes. Georgene is a graduate of Cornell and Stanford Universities."
3. Samantha Samel, VP of Editorial for Fairygodboss
"Samantha Samel joined Fairygodboss in the fall of 2016 and has built the company’s editorial team from the ground up. She oversees the strategy for and production of all B2C and B2B editorial content. Previously, she worked as Managing Editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, a daily print and online newspaper devoted to local Brooklyn news. There, she oversaw the editorial and production staff to ensure the quality and accuracy of news and feature coverage. She received a BA from Tufts University, where she majored in American Studies and minored in English."
4. Nina Semczuk, Head of CEO Content for Fairygodboss
"As Head of SEO Content for Fairygodboss, Nina implements search engine strategies to help career seekers find the answers to their company and job questions. She joined the Fairygodboss editorial team in 2018 after working as a writer and editor for SmartAsset. A career transitioner herself, Nina’s written for career sites such as The Muse and Hirepurpose after serving in the Army for five years. She is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®), a member of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, and has a BS from Boston University where she majored in Communications."
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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.