Your professional biography is in many cases the first glimpse people will have into your career life. They might be reading it on your website or online portfolio, a company “about us” page, a conference program, your social media accounts or somewhere else. No matter what the context, it’s an important piece that needs to convey a lot about you professionally — your achievements, your goals, what you’ve done in your career, your mission and more.
If you’re tasked with writing a professional biography, it may seem daunting. At a loss for how to even start? Keep reading for our seven top tips on crafting your bio, plus a template and example to help you write. While you will, of course, adapt it for different purposes (your website bio, for example, will be significantly longer than your 160-character Twitter bio), the general rules apply across a range of contexts.
7 tips for writing a professional biography.
1. Consider the purpose of your biography.
Who is the audience for your biography? Before you even start writing, think about the why. Are you trying to advertise services for your new business on your website? In that case, the bio should emphasize your expertise and experience. If you’re creating a professional bio for your Twitter account, on the other hand, the context might call for less formality and more humor and whimsy. Think about who will be reading it and what your end goal for writing it is.
2. Put together the materials you’ll need.
You know yourself very well, but you’ll still need some resources to create your bio. Perhaps you don’t precisely remember the exact title of the course you taught seven years ago. Maybe you want to include links to your previous work. Names and key dates are also important. Additionally, think of your goal for your professional bio as a material as well — it will be a guide that informs you about how and what to write. You might also turn to colleagues, mentors and people you admire for inspiration on how to craft your own biography.
3. Put your name first.
Your full name should be the first thing anyone reads in your professional biography. Start off the first sentence with your first and last name (and middle initial or name if you use it professionally). This will help people remember it.
4. Include your occupation, work history and accomplishments.
After starting with your name, give a rundown of what you do professionally, positions and titles you’ve had and your achievements along the way. If you’re trying to market your services through this bio, you should emphasize the work you’ve done and the accomplishments you’ve had in that field or industry. You should also mention your business by name if you’re self-employed or a freelancer, as well as describe your current work or projects. Remember: This is not a place to be shy or modest. Toot your own horn! Let people know about the awards and accolades you’ve earned, publications you’ve had and other merits you’ve received.
If your work or industry isn’t immediately recognizable, you might take a sentence or two to explain it to readers.
5. Describe your goals and values.
Describe why you’ve chosen this professional path. What do you want to accomplish? How will you make a difference in the world? Why this career over another one? If you have a personal mission statement, include it here. You should leave readers feeling inspired.
6. Add humanizing details.
Professional bios can easily be dry and unengaging. To avoid falling into that trap, add plenty of personal details and inject humor and some lighthearted elements if the occasion calls for it (but avoid any jokes that might be inappropriate, offensive or easily misinterpreted. For example, you might mention your family, what you do outside of work, favorite music, books and movies, pets and so on. If you have a short anecdote that offers insight into who you are, this can help add color to your narrative.
7. Tell the reader where she can find you.
This depends on the context, but including your contact information is generally a good idea. You should probably omit your phone number, but your email address (using “at” instead of “@” to keep the spammers at bay — e.g. jane.smith[at]gmail.com) — website (unless this is part of your website) and/or a contact form are all helpful for people who might want to reach out to you for work or otherwise.
Again, your professional biography will vary considerably depending on the context for which you’re using it. As a general rule of thumb, you should include:
• Your name at the beginning
• Your current occupation, work history and achievements
• Your personal values and goals
• Non-work-related facts, such as interests and personal details
• Contact information
Putting it all together, it would look like:
[Your name] is a [professional title] who has worked at [2-4 employers, positions, etc.]. During her career, she has earned honors such as [2-4 awards, honors or achievements]. When she’s not busy doing [your career], she’s [2-4 hobbies, interests, family details such as children]. You can email her at [your email address] or visit her website at [your website URL].
Professional bio example.
Jane Smith is a freelance graphic designer with nearly a decade of experience creating art for businesses across a variety of industries. Her work has been recognized by Graphic Design USA, among other organizations. When she’s not busy creating the next great logo, you’ll find her chasing after her twin toddlers, Sarah and Lucy, or trying to teach her dog Nellie to learn commands beyond “sit” (at least he’s a master at the basics!). Contact her using the form below.
Why good bios are important for professionals.
Writing a professional biography is about getting your name out there. It can be used to attract new clients and help you network. We’ve mentioned a few of the contexts in which you’ll need one — websites, portfolios, conferences, company websites, articles you write and social media accounts — but it’s a good idea to have yours on hand whenever you’re looking to make a connection or market your services.
Is a professional biography the same as a resume?
A professional bio is a different beast from a resume. The latter document is mainly used for applying for jobs, while your bio is less common in the hiring process, although you may be asked to submit one under some circumstances. Moreover, a professional biography is a more “human” document that requires a bit of flare, as opposed to your resume, which just catalogs your career.
That’s not to say a well-written bio can’t land you a job — it certainly can if it catches the eye of the right people. That’s why you should showcase it wherever you can, such as your professional website, and make sure it includes all of your latest and greatest achievements.