• Lynn Bohart


Professional bios are meant to impress the reader with your expertise, experience and, yes, your personality. What it’s not is your resume. Your bio is basically a short story about yourself, meant to convince the reader that you’re the person they want to hire, accept into a program, listen to at a conference, or even accept advice from.

There are several ways to effectively write your bio without sabotaging your efforts. Here are just a few.

#1 Keep it simple and to the point.

In other words, don’t ramble. A bio shouldn’t be short enough to fit on the head of a pin, but neither should it require someone to schedule time to read it. We now live in a text-messaging universe. Use those skills to cut the fat. Stick to only what’s important.

#2 Write for the right audience

You need to be clear who you’re writing the bio for. If you’re applying for a professorship at a major university, your bio will sound quite different from the one you write for the Comicon where you’re scheduled to sit on a panel. Both are possible for the same person, but not interchangeable. Therefore, have several versions depending on your audience.

#3 Write it in third person (he, she, it)

In this way, it will read as if someone else wrote it for you – someone familiar with your skills and expertise, and it won’t sound as if you’re bragging.

#4 Make it personal and conversational

Too many bios read like the phone book. Even if you’re applying for an academic position, make it easy to read and use your own voice. You can add personality without detracting from your credentials.

#5 Keep your formatting easy to read

Short sentences and short paragraphs are the new norm. Why? Because they read faster. Avoid long-winded diatribes. Split up the copy into short paragraphs (even single sentence paragraphs) to allow your reader to peruse the copy quickly and then linger on the points of interest.

#6 Find simple ways to stand out from the crowd

· Describe yourself using descriptive words or adjectives – “Jane is relentless in her pursuit of perfection.”

· Start with a ‘hook’ about yourself – “Robert is the only member of his family to have finished high school.”

· Use a simile or metaphor – “Ruth finds solutions to problems the way a dog finds a bone; she doesn’t give up.”

#7 Eliminate industry jargon

Don’t gum up your bio with a bunch of jargon that is meaningless to anyone but the guy sitting in the cubicle next to you. Your professional bio is about ‘who’ you are, not ‘what’ you are.

#8 Be prepared with different lengths

Be disciplined enough to write a one sentence version and short paragraph version, in addition to the usual 250-word version. You’ll be amazed at the difference and the difficulty but pleased with the results. You’ll also be prepared when someone wants a one-sentence version for an event brochure. Here is an example of a one sentence version: “Piper speaks the language of interior design: comfort, ambience, flow and intimacy.”

Professional bios are an important tool in your promotional toolkit, so don’t just throw it together. Think it through, proof it carefully, and then be sure to have someone you trust read it and give you feedback.


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