College is the time to buckle down and start our first steps into the professional world and with that can come some necessary self-marketing. Whether publishing something, applying for a job or internship, or applying for grad school and other higher-education opportunities, I have had to learn to craft successful professional bios. Here are some elements of writing professional bios that have helped me market myself throughout my college career.
- Keeping It Under 75 Words
While it can be so tempting to include as much awesome information about yourself as possible, I’ve learned the hard way that one of the key aspects of a professional bio is its brevity. I’ve had to embrace the idea that the point of a professional bio is not to give someone your entire life story, but rather to give them enough information to have a basic idea of who you are. I’ve submitted bios before that were rejected simply because they were too long. In my experience, most places want a bio of 75 words or less, so that’s what I try to keep mine at. Then, if a place wants a longer bio I get to add more fun tidbits!
- Keeping It In Third-Person
When I first began writing professional bios I assumed I would be writing them in the first person, for example, “My name is Emily Miller and I am a poet…” In reality, I learned that a professional bio is almost always written in the third person, so I would instead write: “Emily Miller is a poet…” I have found that in my experience this distinction is very important and has been the difference between my bio sounding professional or amateur.
- Tailoring It To Its Purpose
While I’ve found that I keep to the core of my professional bio in whatever I’m using it for — my name, my occupation, my alma mater, and my current school — I do tailor my bios a bit depending on their purpose. For example, for Her Campus, my bio is a bit cutesy and fun while still professionally conveying who I am. When I apply for jobs and internships, however, I keep my bio strictly business without including details about my personal life like my love for cats or video games.
Another reason I might tailor my bio is if a position I’m applying to is located in Central Florida I might, for example, include the fact that I’ve lived in Central Florida my whole life. I’ve found that being cognizant of my audience when writing my professional bios has helped me yield more successful results.
- Paying Attention To Errors
This may seem obvious, but it’s so important in my experience: I have to triple-check my professional work, including bios, to be sure there are no grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors. I always have someone I trust to take my work seriously look it over to catch anything I missed. This careful, detail-oriented rechecking of my work has proven to be invaluable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought my professional bio sounded perfect only to have a friend look it over and show me that I misspelled something. Lesson learned: I’ll always triple-check my work!
These are all elements of professional bio writing that I’ve found have helped me be more successful in my professional life. My ultimate goal with a professional bio is to market myself well, inform others of the basics of who I am, and garner an audience and interest in my work, and these tips have helped me succeed in those efforts.