I hate your professional bio, here’s why

Small child holding an arm full of crayons
Small child holding an arm full of crayons
Photo by Kristin Brown on Unsplash

I hate professional bios. If your professional bio is like everyone else’s, I hate it too, but let’s see if we can fix that. When I look at a conference program or brochure with bios, they range from dull to disingenuous. I don’t need either.

Professional bios tend to be too professional, making them completely uninteresting. They are usually written in the third person, and start with all of the things the person has accomplished. They are too long; buzz word filled fly traps of non-interesting words and half facts. Nobody wants to read that garbage.

A better way to think about your professional bio

Professional bios shouldn’t start with what seems impressive; they should start with what is important. I begin my bio with the foundation of who I am. I’m a husband and father of five (almost six). It signals to the reader what matters most to me. I’m not a corporate ladder climber. I’m not a company builder or kingmaker at my core. I’m a family guy first and don’t forget it.

After starting with what’s important, can we talk about what’s interesting? Maybe your last job performance is impressive, or perhaps, the fact that you have traveled to X number of countries or speak X number of languages is more interesting. I go straight to the fact that I wear a fedora. It’s what I’m known for, well, that and having a gaggle of kids. A fedora is my brand, so I want to establish it as early as I can in my bio, giving people a frame of reference for me.

After talking about what’s important, and what’s interesting, then it’s time tot alk about what you have done and are doing. The first part helps the reader know you as an individual; the second part showcases your experience and expertise.

A formula for thinking about your bio differently

After tinkering with my bio for years, here is a method that works for me.

  1. Important things to know about you
  2. Your brand / how you are known
  3. What you have done
  4. What you are doing now

You may notice that this is the opposite of most of the professional bios you see; that’ the point! Every professional bio is the same, boring read. And, nearly all of them miss the details that make a person interesting.

If you want your bio to stand out, let’s flip conventional wisdom on its head and do something different. Let’s start with what’s important in our lives and work out from there. We aren’t the sum of our job history; we are so much more than that! Let’s make sure our bios show it.

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Husband. Father of six. Wearer of fedoras. Startup co-founder (with exit). Nonprofit co-founder & CMO. I write about personal growth and nonprofit marketing.

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