Company bio, LinkedIn profile, CVs and more – here’s some help with writing a great personal profile.
Most people begin the task of writing about themselves like this: “Waaaaaah! No, I don’t WANT to!” (Commence hair-pulling and sobbing.)
When you’ve pulled yourself together, here’s some help to reduce the pain level of writing a personal profile for a professional environment down to ‘ripping off a bandaid’ level.
(If you’re short on time, skip down to the bottom for a cheat’s checklist).
1. Try thinking of it like a first date.
On a first date, you don’t reel out all your key statistics, do you? You might cover some basic details, but what people really want is to gain an understanding of the essence of you. So you select which parts of the story of your life to tell, leading with the things you think they’ll find most interesting and relevant.
The same approach applies to writing about yourself, or when writing an overview of your company for your website. Before you start writing, sit down and think about what the reader wants from you – their possible motivations.
2. Before you write, consider your audience.
Here are some questions to help you get started:
For example, if you’re writing your LinkedIn bio, you want to tell people what makes you unique. The facts alone about your current job or experience probably sound the same as a hundred others. What’s your niche? How are you different/better?
If you’re writing a bio for your company website, people want to get a sense of the person they could be entering into a business relationship with. So don’t be afraid to put some of your personality in there, as well as the usual details.
NB: Your personality isn’t the same as your personal interests. One of my pet peeves are professional profiles that say things like “Loves UX, clear communication and cats”. Throwing in a personal detail like this doesn’t necessarily give a sense of your personality, and it’s a lazy way of trying to make a personal connection with your reader. Worry about personality more than personal detail – check out a profile I use on my website for an example.
3. Embrace the brag with first person POV
Being a New Zealander living in New York, I can tell you that we Kiwis are nowhere near as comfortable as Americans at talking ourselves up. But one arena where we absolutely need to embrace talking about why we’re great – and owning it – is in our personal profiles.
That’s where point of view comes in. Some people are still hesitant to use first person POV in their profiles (e.g “I am a…” or “I’m great at…”) They’re sticking to the old-school third person style “George is an accomplished…” and “Sally is an experienced…”
So stiff! So boring! And so not the way to do things. Get over any embarrassment you might feel about talking yourself up by thinking about it this way: you’re simply trying to explain to someone how you can help them, because of your skills, experience and personality.
Or, you know, be more like an American: embrace the brag.
4. Get their attention.
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” That’s from George Orwell’s 1984.
Your opening sentence sets the tone of your whole profile, so spend some time on it.
Think outside the norm. Do you absolutely need to lead with details like your job or your experience? If you do, how about an unexpected ending? Or you might add contrast after a longish sentence by making the next sentence super short. Keep people on their toes.
Perhaps you could lead with a question, like this:
“What’s my jam? Writing words that work.”
5. Be genuine.
People can see right through people and brands who try too hard to be enthusiastic, quirky, or worst-of-all: pretend to care about you. But if you really truly believe in what you’re saying, your passion will be felt in your writing and people will respond to your honesty.
Here’s some help with making sure you mean what you say:
If you can add just an extra 5% of tone of voice to your copy, it will be more engaging and accessible.
A final tip: When you read a profile of yourself, you should feel satisfied and proud. That’s you there on the page, and you’re awesome. Tell the world.
CHEEKY CHEATS CHECKLIST
Questions before writing
Questions for once you’ve finished the first draft