If writing hundreds of lines of complicated code sounds more appealing than writing a short paragraph about yourself, join the club. Writing a succinct bio that encapsulates who you are and what you’ve accomplished is tricky. But with a few strategies, even the most writing-averse programmers can pull it off.
Working in tech, there are situations where you might need a professional bio — for example, if you’re speaking on a panel, making your personal resume website, or joining a new team. Your bio doesn’t need to be a memoir or your resume in paragraph-form, but it should be a blurb that summarizes your accomplishments and reflects your personality.
Here’s an example of a bio we wrote for a programmer we’ll call “Codey”:
Inspired but still not sure where to start? Here are five simple tips that will help you craft a professional bio — even if you absolutely hate writing.
Make a list of your skills
The first thing you should do is write a list of all of your skills, says Cairo Amani, a career strategist in Seattle who specializes in helping tech professionals. This includes technical skills, like the programming languages and frameworks you know, as well as soft skills, like collaboration or leadership.
You’ve probably picked up skills in your previous roles that are worth highlighting in a bio, Cairo says. For instance, maybe you honed solid communication skills working in customer service, or perhaps your childcare experience taught you to solve problems on your feet.
“If you have an unconventional background, and you just learned coding and you haven't been doing it your whole life, then those bullet points of transferable skills are going to be so important,” Cairo says.
(FYI: Trying to recall all of your past accomplishments in one sitting can be tough. Cairo has a “work journal” that she uses regularly to keep track of work-related achievements, feedback, praise, personal pep talks, and other reflections. “That way, when it's time for me to write about what I do or what I bring to the table, I have evidence,” she says.)
Delete anything you don’t want to do
Now that you have a list of your skills, it’s time to edit it so that you’re only focusing on what you want to do, rather than everything that you have done in the past. “To be very clear: Skills are not duties,” Cairo says. In other words, performing tasks that are within your job description might not be where your passion and expertise really lies.
Think about how you want your capabilities to shine through in your bio. For example, if you used to spend 40-plus hours a week sorting customer files, what that really means is that you have organizational skills and are good at creating and managing systems.
Be mindful of your audience
“Once you have your bullet points, that's when you start to focus on tone, structure, and the story you're telling in your bio,” Cairo says. It helps to think about who will be reading this bio. A recruiter browsing LinkedIn? Your coworkers at a new organization? Someone you met at a networking event?
Adjust how formal or casual you are in your writing style based on your audience. In some contexts, like on a personal resume website, “you might want to show a little bit more personality,” Cairo says. On the other hand, for a bio that will be published in a company’s “about” section, you might need to be more straightforward, she says.
You should also decide whether you want to write your bio in first person (like, I’m a web developer) or third person perspective (like, Codey is a web developer). Both are acceptable, but first person bios tend to be more casual and conversational, whereas third person ones are more formal.
Read other bios for inspo
If you’re drawing a blank trying to write something from scratch, look at other people’s bios for inspiration, Cairo says. “Just start mixing and matching so you end up editing something into a bio,” she says. You’ll notice how there are some standard ways people structure their bios or weave in facts about themselves to showcase the person behind the list of skills.
Obviously, you have to be truthful — copying someone’s bio verbatim or lying about your experience is not the move. The point is to “give yourself a chance to find some inspiration, and have some fun with your bio, instead of assuming it's a chore,” Cairo says.
Talk it out
Sometimes the easiest way to write something that sounds authentic to you is to talk it out instead. Use a speech-to-text dictation tool on your computer (Microsoft Word and Google Docs have this feature built in) and introduce yourself. How would you describe what you do to someone who doesn’t know anything about coding? Using the transcription as a starting point, you can edit in other important details.
Still figuring out what type of career in tech is best for you? We have lots of tools that can help you develop your technical skills and get job-ready — from the details recruiters look for in a LinkedIn profile to how to answer tough interview questions. Be sure to check out our Career Center for portfolio projects and more resources that will help you find a job you love.