A great way to learn more about your background is to have a prepared document such as a professional bio.
A professional bio can be shared with potential employers, your co-workers, added to your social media profiles, used for making engagement announcements, or as an author bio on a blog.
Writing about your professional background for the first time may feel challenging or awkward, but it doesn't have to be.
Here are some tips to help you feel more comfortable while writing your own professional bio. Let's dive in.
What is a professional background?
A professional background is a summary of your professional experiences – along with relevant personal information, including interests or passions – that you use throughout your career as you network with industry peers, apply for new roles, or look for thought leadership opportunities.
This includes previous jobs, successful projects you've worked on, major achievements such as promotions or awards, professional network organizations that you are a part of, and anything else you'd like to share with someone who wants to learn more about you professionally.
Sharing more about your background is not only a great way to tell others more about yourself, but also an opportunity to fully reflect on your professional journey and the goals you have achieved – and what you want to achieve in the future.
Next, let's examine how to get started.
How to write about yourself
1. Don't start from scratch.
If you're having trouble figuring out where to start, use a professional bio template to guide you. Templates like those listed below make it easy for you to focus on your personal information and services without worrying about structure.
Selected resource: Professional bio templates and examples
Download the templates
2. Know your audience.
Take into account who is reading your professional bio and target them to your reader.
You may also want to design different versions of your document to suit specific audiences. For example, the version you post on LinkedIn may not be as detailed as the version you post on your personal website. If your reader is a potential employer, it will be helpful to include details that specifically highlight why you are the best candidate for the role you are applying for.
HubSpot founder Dharmesh Shah uses different BIOS for different platforms. On Twitter, for example, Dharmesh's bio is short and sweet, which is perfect for Twitter's character restriction.
Alternatively, Dharmesh's biography is written in third person for the participants on the INBOUND website. This biography makes Dharmesh's current role clear and provides some important background information.
Finally, Dharmesh's voice in his OnStartups bio is personable as he speaks directly to the reader. This gives readers more insight into Dharmesh's background straight from his perspective.
The best part about this approach is that you can make as many versions of your bio as you want or just recycle a generic version whenever you need it.
3. Show professional progress.
As you write, remember to structure your professional bio to create a timeline that shows your progress. Explain what your various roles were like and emphasize the responsibilities that you prepared for success in your latter roles.
It's important to note that your timeline doesn't have to be linear.
"Find a topic that spans several of your jobs and present your decisions in a way that shows common threads in each of your career decisions," explains career strategist Jenny Foss.
The aim is to clearly show your audience the different roles you have had and how all of your experiences have contributed to your overall professional development.
4. Highlight your achievements.
One of the best things about writing about your professional background is that it is the perfect opportunity to brag about yourself – and I don't mean humble bragging rights.
Think about the most successful projects you've been involved in, the strategies you helped develop and execute, the deals you've closed, the income you've generated, and anything else that stands out as key accomplishments.
"A former manager once told me to keep a 'braggart' on a document on my computer. The idea was to create a rolling list of notable achievements, media mentions, awards, and letters of recommendation to refer to could to make it easier. It also doesn't hurt to open this document when you are having a difficult day, reminding yourself of what you are capable of, ”said Carly Stec, HubSpots channel monetization manager.
It's also important to consider how success has been measured in your previous roles – and how that might affect the way you write about it.
If success for you is measured in quantifiable metrics that contain strong statistics, it could look something like this:
- "In my first six months, I acquired X customers who had average monthly recurring revenue of X $."
- "I have helped to increase customer loyalty by X percent."
- "With the strategy I developed, my team was able to reduce customer acquisition costs by X percent."
If your role is primarily measured against qualitative goals, share a highlight related to skills that distinguish you:
- "I successfully managed to run a major project with excellent time management skills and excellent communication with multiple stakeholders."
- "Because of my organizational skills, I was able to complete a project that should take a quarter in half the time."
- "I was selected to lead a database cleanup project because of my attention to detail and my excellent teamwork skills."
5. Be personable.
Schedules and achievements are great, but it's even better to be personal.
Readers should feel like they can get a feel for who you are from your professional bio. This gives readers a chance to learn more about you beyond a professional area. If you have any cool niche hobbies that you enjoy outside of work, this is the time to share.
Here is a list of prompts to help you find the right "funny facts" to highlight:
- What TV show are you doing right now?
- Do you have pets?
- What do most people not know about you?
- Which languages do you speak?
- What are you most proud of?
- Share something you did
- What do you do to relax?
- What are three of your apps that you must have?
- What would your favorite colleague say about you?
- What's the best advice you've ever been given and how do you apply it to your life?
Being personal is also a great opportunity to address unconventional moments in your professional background. Perhaps you've changed your career path drastically, or you've taken a sabbatical at some point.
These kind of stories can really help make you more accessible to your audience and you never know who you might connect with over any of your hobbies or more personal moments.
6. Ask for feedback.
Constructive feedback is key when writing about yourself. While many provide feedback after completing a draft of their biography, it is equally beneficial to get feedback from your peers earlier in your drafting process.
Often our colleagues can help to identify our strengths and where we can improve. If you're struggling to come up with a clear timeline or pinpoint the high points to mention, meet with a coworker to brainstorm ideas.
Reflect on successful assignments you've worked on together and ask your coworkers to provide honest feedback on what you've done best – and include that feedback on your bio.
If you need help getting started, here is a list of discussion questions you can use with your co-workers to uncover professional strengths that you may be missing in your own self-assessment:
- What role do you think I play in group work?
- How did I help you be more successful?
- What was my most impressive project in my opinion?
- What was your first impression of me?
- What do you think are my strengths?
Ready to write?
Keep these tips in mind as you write about your professional bio. Your end product should be a written statement showing your most notable skills and achievements. As your career progresses, take the time to update your bio like your resume and keep impressing your readers.
And remember, if you're feeling stuck, don't be afraid to use our free professional bio templates to get you started.