Market Youself With a Professional Bio

by Debra Wheatman, Careers Done Write

A professional biography is a great way to showcase your career information in a crisp and concise way. The professional bio is the career management version of a product value statement, where the product is you – not quite an elevator pitch, more of a narrative you might give at a networking event to establish top of mind awareness (TOMA); when the other person(s) hears of an opportunity they only think of you.

While Bios are not new, they have been growing in importance as the job market continue to tighten – hiring managers don’t have the time to read through stacks of résumés; bios are quickly becoming a mandatory piece of your career marketing package. Your bio will provide that 30,000 ft. view – highlighting your brand value.

The goal of the bio is to provide a brief overview of your professional accomplishments and expand on the critical personality traits that set you apart while creating an emotional attachment, a sense of “likeness.” Also known as an executive bio, it is a great complement to the traditional résumé and provides an opportunity to highlight the intangibles.

Here are the steps to take to create a winning professional bio:

1.     Speak in the third person.  For example, “John Smith is a highly regarded financial services professional…”  Once you have mentioned your full name, you may then use your first name only throughout the remainder of the document.  For a more formal tone, use your last name instead. 

2.     Provide examples of your most impressive career achievements. Include awards, promotions, and any other key achievements that demonstrate current and past successes. Share insights - the type and size of customers you have had interactions with and when appropriate, mention client names to add credibility to your background.

3.     Define your personal brand – point to the personal and professional attributes that are your differentiators and expand upon the details of your unique expertise. Refer to publications you have authored, presentations you have delivered, professional appearances, and other achievements of which you are proud.

4.     Include information surrounding your education and special credentials. You can also include any volunteer activities or memberships. 

5.     Provide your contact information to make it simple for those reading your professional bio to reach you. You may want to include a small, professional photo. 

You professional bio should be one page. The bio should reference you shining moments and outstanding career achievements. It is a supplement to a well written résumé, intended to bring depth and multidimensionality to your professional history. Candidates who use a professional bio are amazed at the powerful impact it delivers. I find that most high-level executives benefit greatly from including a solid professional bio as part of their career search strategy.

Debra Wheatman is the president of Careers Done Write and an AMA Career Resource Center contributor. Read more from Debra here or follow her on twitter at @DebraWheatman.