I just read an About Me that was over 600 words long. Yet not one word was actually worthy of consideration, let alone serious consideration. The profile was that of a photographer. Ultimately, he was trying to sell his services. However, because of the way he sold himself, he was ineffective in reaching this objective.
Moreover, anyone who demands that much of a reader’s attention needs to make every word count. He didn’t.
Don’t write your About Me as you would a resume.
For starters, he spent long paragraphs detailing every single job he had held, including the length of time he spent at each one. An About Me profile (or LinkedIn profile for that matter) isn’t a resume. It’s a summary of you as a person and professional. This is especially true when crafting the first paragraphs (in fact, I actually charge good money just to write the opener – it’s that important!)
This is where you put your most impressive highlights and use an active, engaging voice. You never let them get lost in the murk of boring data. A reader’s attention is limited. We’re faced with a glut of content on a daily, if not hourly basis. As such, dry data doesn’t connect.
Instead look at each of the most recent positions you’ve held and pick out the main accomplishments. You can even go back into your history at a mild accomplishment and then contrast it against a recent one to show your evolution.
I’m not suggesting that a resume is a bad idea by the way. Just be sure to include it at the end of your initial pitch and under the heading “resume”. That way, you engage the reader with compelling information and a unique personal style off the top. Then, once you have them hooked, they can scan your work history.
Add substance not adjectives.
His initial paragraphs were boring because of the dry, rambling data. However, what followed was annoying. Here’s an excerpt (and remember this is only an excerpt, there was more):
My life is all about photography, I love it. I spend my life in its pursuit. I am:
- Passionate (I love what I do)
- Enthusiastic (I’m a total keener)
- Reliable (I never miss a deadline)
- Self-starter (Can hit the ground running)
The good thing about this approach is that it’s a quick read. The bad thing is that what we’re reading is of no value.
First of all, no one should never rely that heavily on adjectives. Instead of saying you’re passionate, prove it with facts. Perhaps you’re so passionate that you’re always upgrading your skills or learning new aspects of your work.
Perhaps you’re so passionate that you’ve been known to forget to have a night’s sleep.
Or perhaps you’re so passionate that you leave work and then volunteer your services to others.
A few adjectives here and there are fine, but give your bio real weight by including stats of substance.
Never underestimate your reader.
In addition, does anyone really need to explain any of these adjectives? They’re common. So don’t treat a reader as though he or she is in grade school English. The only explanation required here is how different are passionate and enthusiastic? Wouldn’t one of these done the job?
Conversely, it’s also important to pick words that aren’t big and pompous. I see often see this on professional bios. They’re meant to sound highly intelligent. However, they not only create a burdensome read, they also sound as though you’re compensating for lack of substance. Instead, be real. Be down-to-earth. Let your professional highlights speak highly for you.
The best professional bios follow this structure.
1) A powerful opener that gets attention and keeps it
2) About 200 – 250 words of concise, dynamic copy that highlights your strength
3) A line or two that tells the reader what you want them to do next.
For more information on writing your professional bio and examples of strong openers, have a look at this TV appearance, as well as my LinkedIn profile samples.