A professional biography is something each person in business should have; but few do until they are asked for it. Rather than rush and throw something together that doesn’t reflect your greatest accomplishments, awards, and highlights of your career, start building yours today. Your bio is similar to your resume – it is always changing and evolving along with you. In order to create a bio that helps you shine, follow the steps below and be prepared for the day when you are asked to provide this important piece of information about yourself.

It should be noted that your bio will change depending on the audience that will read it. The bio you will create today is a standard bio that can then be tweaked to meet the needs of the venue you are using it for.

Step 1: Title/Position

Starting with your current role is a good way to position yourself in the minds of the people reading your bio. You will want to include all of your professional roles that you are currently involved in. For example, my bio starts like this:

Angela Lussier is an award-winning speaker, author of the Seth Godin recommended book The Anti-Resume Revolution, associate director of alumni career programs at the UMass Amherst Alumni Association, and owner of 365 Degrees Consulting in Springfield, Mass.

If you only hold one title at the moment, that’s okay! This is just the introduction to what you do. If your title is uncommon or doesn’t clearly state what you do just by reading it, including a short description of what you do is a good way to inform your reader of your work. For example:

John Williams is an agricultural entomologist focusing on the cause of insect outbreaks in specific environments.

Step 2: Credibility, Publications & Media Mentions

Stating where your work has been featured helps to build credibility in the minds of the people reading your bio. If you have been published in an industry magazine, have advice featured on prominent websites, or have been interviewed on a major news outlet, this is the place to mention that. If you have not had an opportunity to contribute to any media outlets and know of some that could benefit from hearing from you, make a phone call or craft an email outlining what you could offer them. They can’t feature your work if they don’t know you exist! Here is an example from my bio:

Her career advice can be found on Yahoo!, NBC, ABC, The Ladders, Virgin.com, About.com and in many career and business books.

I didn’t note my book in this section because it’s in the introduction to my bio, but if you have written more than one publication, you can put it here.

Step 3: Work with notable companies/positions

Noting a few accomplishments featuring recognizable names in business again helps to show your association with respected organizations and speaks to your abilities. If you are a business owner, noting high-level clients is a great way to showcase your experience. If you are an employee, list some of your past positions or employers – as long as they present you in a way that makes you shine! Here is an example from the next line of my bio:

Speaking engagements and clients include TEDx, Boeing, MassMutual, Comcast, Westfield State College, and many others.

As an employee, you may want to write something like this:

Mr. Williams held the VP of Operations role at XYZ Corporation for 10 years before moving to ABC Company to lead their United States operations.

Step 4: Awards

Listing a few major awards shows your ability to get the job done, go above and beyond and/or gain recognition for your contributions. Awards also indicate that your peers and/or people of influence value your work as well. Example:

Ms. Lussier is the recipient of the 2006 Innovation Award given by her co-workers and managers, winner of the 2010 Outstanding New Member award from the Women Business Owner’s Alliance of the Pioneer Valley and 2009 1st Place Division Humorous Speech Contest winner awarded by Toastmasters International.

Step 5: Education

Listing educational accomplishments is key as well, especially if you hold advanced degrees and/or were educated at an institution with a strong reputation (like UMass Amherst!). Example:

Angela holds a BA in Communications from UMass Amherst. (pretty straightforward). If you have academic awards from this institution, you can list them here.

Step 6: Years of Experience

If you have an impressive number of years of experience, you can note that anywhere in your bio. Since it’s a short bit of information, you can choose what sentence it makes the most sense to add it to.

Step 7: Philosophy/point of view/vision/mission

This part is optional, but I really like it because it gives the reader a bit of insight into what this person is setting out to do with their work. By adding this element to your bio, it gives your audience a flavor for what they have to look forward to. If you don’t have a personal philosophy or vision for your work, this may be the time to start developing one! Here is an example from my bio:

She was once reprimanded for being “too creative” and is on a mission to help others to stop waiting and start creating a career by design like she did.

Your bio should be no more than 7-10 sentences long and will need to be lengthened or shortened depending on the needs of the group requesting it. Be ready to tweak it and add or take out information each time. Your bio is your miniature resume and should only be a snapshot of what you bring to the table. Have fun creating it and know that you are in control of the way people view you, so only include the information that people need to know about your abilities, accomplishments, and vision for the future. Your bio is what sells your unique skills and value. Don’t be afraid to let the best of your background shine!

Here is the finished product:

Angela Lussier is an award-winning speaker, author of the Seth Godin recommended book The Anti-Resume Revolution, associate director of alumni career programs at the UMass Amherst Alumni Association, and owner of 365 Degrees Consulting in Springfield, Mass. Her advice can be found on Yahoo!, NBC, ABC, The Ladders, Virgin.com, About.com and in many career and business books. Speaking engagements and clients include TEDx, Boeing, MassMutual, Comcast, Westfield State College, and many others. Ms. Lussier is the recipient of the 2006 Innovation Award given by her co-workers and managers, winner of the 2010 Outstanding New Member award from the Women Business Owner’s Alliance of the Pioneer Valley and 2009 1st Place Division Humorous Speech Contest winner awarded by Toastmasters International. Angela brings 10 years of experience and holds a BA in Communications from UMass Amherst. Once reprimanded for being “too creative”, Lussier is on a mission to help others to stop waiting and start creating a career by design like she did.