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Your Professional Biography: Say it Loud and Say it Proud

Posted on by Ben Forstag

Everyone needs a short professional biography–to let others know what you do, to share your accomplishments and to reinforce your brand.  Whether you use it on LinkedIn, atop your resume, or in a cover letter, your bio is an opportunity to define the value you provide as a professional.

In his contribution to Land Your Dream Job in Portland (and Beyond) Mike Russell of Pivotal Writing shares that the key to a great professional bio is a killer first sentence. You need to capture the reader’s attention and immediately showcase your abilities and relevance. “Assert your place in the community with confidence, even if it feels edgy… Once you’ve hooked interest, you can you elaborate on whom you serve best, how, and why.”

Here are Mike’s three tips for how to best start your professional bio:

1. Be brazenly honest

Don’t be shy or modest! Boast about what you do better than anyone else and what makes you stand apart from others in your field. Quantifying your accomplishments with hard numbers is nice, but you can also brag about your soft skills.  (Just make sure that everything you’re saying is actually true!)

Example:

Harry Mudd is Portland’s most passionate nonprofit development professional, raising over $2 million for local charities since 2011.

2. Think about your audience

Imagine that you are writing your bio to your current boss or a well-known client. What would they be looking for in a new hire? What words or phrases are important to them? The more you can get into the mind of your prospective reader, the more impact your opening line will have.

Example:

Jessie Bowers is a communications professional who takes pride in what matters most–outreach initiatives that generate measurable ROI and impact the bottom line.

3. Lead with your Primary Benefit

This is closely related to “thinking about your audience,” but the emphasis here is on hard deliverables. You need to answer the question “what’s in it for me”. What immediate value can provide to prospective employers or clients?

Examples:

Bob Loblaw’s blog simplifies the legal patent process, helping home inventors protect and profit from their innovation.

Christine Chapel, RN is a tireless healthcare advocate, who combines the latest medical technology with a compassionate bedside manner to improve outcomes and the patient experience.

Larry Thomas cooks the best bowl of soup in Portland–a health, affordable lunch that fills you up, keeps you lean, and energizes you for the rest of your day.

If you’re looking for more expert advice to streamline your job search, check out Land Your Dream Job in Portland (and Beyond.) You’ll find everything you need to get a great job–whether you are in Portland, Oregon, Portland, Maine or anywhere in between. The 2016 edition includes new content and, for the first time ever, is available in paperback, and an array of e-reading devices, including Kindle, Nook and iBooks. Sign up for the Land Your Dream Job mailing list to get special pre-sale pricing and other exclusive content!

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Ben Forstag
Ben Forstag is Managing Director of Mac’s List, where he is responsible for the organization's editorial and business operations. Ben has an extensive background in communications and marketing, primarily in the nonprofit and healthcare sector. Contact Ben at ben@macslist.org.
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