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Your 5 Minute Career “Homework”

Posted September 1, 2013 by Career Girl Network in Features

Sure, it’s been a while since you’ve been in school. But here at Career Girl Network, every Sunday night, we’re bringing you “Homework” – a simple task that will take less than 10 minutes (most less than 5) and still have a significant impact on your career.

Here’s your homework for tonight!

Write a professional bio!

There may be numerous times in your career when you’re asked for something other than your resume to represent yourself in a given situation. In those times, you’re often going to be expected to present a professional bio. Perhaps you’ve been asked to speak on an industry panel or at your alma mater. Maybe you’re being featured on a blog or another publication. Most women, when asked to submit a bio, send 1-2 sentences that say something like this: “Annie is a lawyer at X firm specializing in Y area. She attended X college and majored in Y.”

Really?! Guess what, ladies? That’s not good enough! Where you graduated, where you work, and what you majored in does not make a professional bio work. Instead, you have to have a bio that matches your personal brand, takes into consideration your goals as well as your expertise, and presents you as a talented and forward-thinking professional.

Don’t wait until someone asks you for your bio to write it. You need to have this in your professional arsenal right now. So go ahead, write it today.

Use This Step-by-Step Approach to Writing Your Bio

  • Print out your resume and highlight (literally) the pieces of it you’re most proud of. Does your bio need to include every job you’ve ever had? No. It should include jobs you’ve especially proud of and positions that developed your key experiences and skill sets.
  • Start with who you are, but not related to your company. Instead of “Annie is a lawyer at X firm,” you’ll say, “Annie is a contract attorney specializing in international software negotiations.”
  • Bring out the big guns first! If you currently negotiate millions in sales each year, you’ve written a book, won an award, or something else truly big in your career, put it up front! “Ms. Smith is the recipient of multiple industry honors including Kentucky Lawyer Magazine’s 40 Under 40 list and Best Female Attorney from ABA Kentucky.”
  • Don’t forget your past! For years, I conveniently left my alma mater out of my professional bio, until someone reminded me that it could be influential in those who want to know where I was before my first job, among other reasons. So go ahead and include your educational background as well.
  • Include at least one personal tidbit. A professional bio is just that – professional. But if you’re speaking at a conference or publishing a paper, the listeners or readers will like to know something about you as a person as well. It could be as simple as “Annie lives in Kentucky with her husband Chuck and their three children.” But you might also include something more specific and interesting like, “Annie is an avid runner and has completed over 20 marathons since 1998.” Cool, right?

Other Important Things to Remember

  • Remember, a professional biography is written in third person, not first.
  • Many professional bios are written specifically to be read out loud. If someone is introducing you, is your bio easy to read and understandable? Practice reading your bio out loud to see if it flows.
  • Professional bio? It needs a professional headshot, too! Accompany your bio with a great, simple, and professional photo of yourself.
  • Include your bio on important parts of your online brand – the top of your LinkedIn profile, your About.me page, and other areas. Put it out there!

Take the time today to write your professional bio. It will be worth it in the long run to keep it updated alongside your resume.

One More Tip If You’re Struggling

  • Ask your best friend or your husband to proof your bio if you’re struggling, or perhaps even help you write it from scratch. Sometimes it’s easier for someone who knows you well to talk about you than it is to talk about yourself.

About the Author

Career Girl Network

Career Girl Network’s mission is to provide for women clear paths to career success and a large network of women to nurture, mentor, and support their goals. Part online media platform and part social enterprise start-up, Career Girl Network brings together women who want to become empowered in their own careers and discover opportunities to reach out and encourage the empowerment of others.