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Writing a short bio certainly sounds easy. After all, how hard could it be to dash off a few lines about your background and experience? Although you could probably write a list of your accomplishments in just a minute or two, the best biographies are more than just a dry recitation of facts. A well-written bio engages the reader and establishes your authority and expertise in your field. Sharpening your bio data writing skills is a simple way to make a positive impression on potential clients, employers and your peers.
Do a Little Research
Review other bios on the website or in the publication to determine style, length and other factors. When you look at bio examples, consider:
- Venue: A bio written to accompany an article published in a professional journal will look much different than one created to showcase your work on the company’s website or entice prospective employers to review your LinkedIn profile.
- Length: You may be given a character, word- or sentence-count. If not, take a look at the average length of the other bios. Longer isn’t always better. If your bio is too long and includes too many facts, your readers are likely to lose interest. Some of the most memorable bios are only a few sentences long.
- Tone: Tone is an important, but often overlooked, aspect of bio writing. Although a short professional bio should never be quite as playful as one you write for a personal social media account, many sites favor a casual approach.
- Content: Do the bios feature degrees and awards? Is previous employment mentioned?
- Point of View: Third person is usually used for bios that appear on company websites, publications and conference materials, while first person is a good choice if you’re writing a bio for LinkedIn or another social media site.
Focus on Key Accomplishments
Bios aren’t resumes. They shouldn't include every single achievement in your career. Before you begin writing, narrow your list of accomplishments to the top four or five. Keep in mind that the accomplishments that you use may vary depending on whether you’re writing a formal or casual bio.
Sarah Morgan, an accomplished mergers and acquisitions director, leads the merger integration team at Miller, Sperry, Michaels. As associate director at Gigantic Corporation, she managed Vanderbilt Publishing’s acquisition of Running Wild. The former Englebright scholar is the past winner of the Krinke Leadership Award and the Morganthaler Merger Medallion. Sarah has an M.B.A. from the Ohio State University and serves on the board of directors of the Ogilvy Foundation.
While that bio may be perfect for Sarah’s profile as a panel participant at a conference, she may want to write a more casual bio for the company website.
Sarah Morgan is Miller, Sperry, Michael’s mergers and acquisitions director and resident matchmaker. Whether she’s overseeing mergers or finding mates for the office’s single employees, Sarah thrives on identifying possibilities. Thanks to her business acumen and financial expertise, she’s helped the MSM team manage six successful mergers in just two years.
Use the Three E Formula
Good biographies meet the three E test (enlighten, engage and entice). An effective bio will:
- Enlighten: Your bio should provide your full name and position and mention key achievements.
- Engage: Readers will only skim your bio if it’s informative but not very interesting.
- Entice: Ideally, a well-written bio will encourage readers to take some sort of action. After reading your engaging bio, they may want to add your conference session to their agenda or contact you to learn more about the services you offer.
Holly McGurgan has a degree in journalism and previously worked as a non-profit public relations and communications manager. She often writes about career and lifestyle topics. Her work has appeared online on Healthline, Working for Candy and other sites.