All professionals and business leaders should have a well-written bio that recounts their career accomplishments. A brief bio is essential for social media profiles, company Web sites, press releases, event programs, brochures and more. In reality, a professional bio is nothing to be afraid of—as long as you avoid a few common mistakes.
- Writing in the First Person
Even if you’re writing your own bio, refer to yourself in the third person. Whoever the subject is, call them by their full name the first time you mention them and just their last name on subsequent references.
- Starting at the beginning
Like resumes, bios should generally start with the present and work backwards in chronological order. The purpose of a bio is to describe what sets the subject apart professionally. For most people, that’s going to be the major accomplishments of their adult life. That’s why it’s a good idea to begin with a summary statement that includes the subject’s current position or occupation as well as their most significant recent accomplishment.
There’s no need to add extraneous information to make a bio longer. Three or four paragraphs is a sufficient amount to describe the major milestones of most people’s careers.
- Providing too much information
Remember, it’s called a professional bio for a reason. It’s fine to briefly mention a few personal details such as college and graduate school degrees, charitable activities, hobbies and passions in the last sentence or two.
A bio should never include fabricated accomplishments, awards, titles or positions. Besides the moral issue, false claims are easy to disprove and the potential fallout from getting caught in a lie outweighs any benefits of exaggerating one’s achievements.
There’s no reason to down play any major accomplishments. Remember to include professional awards, accolades, honorary degrees, titles, etc. And never mention anything negative or unflattering.
Avoid the temptation to be sarcastic or humorous. Humor and sarcasm rarely work in a professional bio. Unless you are a paid comedy writer and the bio is used to promote a comedic project. It’s best to just stick to the facts.
Avoid these mistakes and you will produce a better bio.