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As you climb the corporate ladder and become more visible during your career, you will run into situations that require a professional biography for public dissemination. This might include a posting on your company website, accompanying a magazine article you wrote, an introduction before a speech or an introduction at a new company. Knowing how to organize a professional bio will help you put your best foot forward to make a good impression.
Know the Purpose
The first step in preparing a professional biography is to know its purpose. If it’s to introduce you to a client or project team members, emphasize your work history relevant to the task. If it’s to accompany your byline and photo when you submit an article, your bio should relate to the article content. Think about why the reader wants or needs this information, or the magazine, conference or your company wants to provide this information to the public.
Learn Your Audience
Once you know the purpose of the bio, write the biography to your audience. Emphasize important points to them and make yourself seem relevant to their needs. When speaking or writing to laypeople, avoid the temptation to write a bio that overemphasizes your importance to your peers. Use simple job descriptions, avoid industry phrases and jargon and explain what you do as if you were talking to a friend over coffee.
List Your Work History
Look at your resume and determine which job titles or companies to include in your bio, based on the purpose of the introduction and your audience. You may be limited to fewer than 50 words or only 2 sentences. Review jobs you’ve held that best represent your article, speech or project, even if that means leaving your most impressive credentials off when they don’t qualify you as an expert on the topic.
Review any certifications earned, awards won, professional association memberships, committees or board service. These might be more important to your audience, and more relevant to the topic, than any single position you’ve held. For example, a director at a large country club might not be as impressive to your audience as is the fact that you are a PGA-certified golf instructor, or are the education committee chairperson for your local golf pro’s association.
Depending on the reason for your bio, highlighting accomplishments can be one of your most important content strategies. For example, if you’re speaking on employee benefits program, the fact you are an HR director at a large company might not be as impressive as the fact that you increased employee benefits enrollment by 18 percent while cutting payroll costs by 12 percent at one of your previous employers. Your audience wants to know about your accomplishments, not a list of job titles.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.