When it comes to selling yourself online, you don’t want to toot your own horn so loudly that you send prospective employers running for the hills. How do you stand out from the considerable crowd?
Here’s how to get the right balance of writing professional, likeable and accurate profiles that pique interest in you and your skills (while pleasing the fickle SEO gods).
Write a unique bio
Every professional networking or job site should give you a unique opportunity to pitch yourself in a different way. Keep this in mind for SEO, as search engines place higher rankings for original content in their search results.
This means don’t just copy and paste the same bio across numerous websites; tweak them enough so they’re different, but not too much that they’re not consistent.
Originality in your profile will get you seen by more employers and recruiters respectively, so always keep it fresh with a punchy and engaging introduction or overview of your career highlights and skills.
Write as if you’re having a conversation
Imagine you are meeting a person for the first time…what would you say? You’d start with something like your name, location, job title and industry. Great.
Introductions aside, most importantly you’d give that person a real sense of who you are as an individual – you’d never hit them with a mouthful or jargon, or drone on with no personality, so don’t do it in your writing!
Talk about your core values, life philosophy or ultimate goals in your introduction – whatever motivates or inspires you. It’s not just about sounding professional on paper; it’s about being human.
Watch your words
Search engines tend to love lengthy and original content, so the more words you can write in your profile, the better.
SEO is about boosting your visibility; aim for at least 500 words, and if you can push the boat out then go for between 1,000 to 2,000 words.
Remember it’s about quality and not quantity, so keep your words short and sweet to still keep the reader engaged, and break up longer chunks of text into easy to read paragraphs. No one likes scrolling through an endless wall of word salad.
Write in the third person
This is tricky as it’s more natural for people to speak about themselves online in the first person such as “I” or “my”.
It’s probably best for SEO to mix things up. Dividing your bios across sites into ones that are written in the first person, and others written in the third person using your name moderately (to avoid it sounding like spam) and using your preferred pronoun.
Profiles written in the third person can have the advantage of sounding like its written by someone else – which adds a professional touch!
Edit, but edit wisely
Your online profile should be the most authentic and influential written source about you. Ensure it’s kept up-to-date, has all the relevant information and speaks about you in a positive light
A current, well-written and lengthy profile makes better reading. Ask trusted friends to read over your profile or edit it to make it more appealing, or use editing tools like Hemingway App or Slickwrite to help you write a great bio.
Tell a story
Narratives – stories – are powerful. Profiles shouldn’t be a boring, endless list of accomplishments or chronology of your experience from your days at school.
It should speak from the heart of who you are and what you’re about as a person. At the same time, ask ‘who is your audience?’ or ‘what does your reader want to hear?’ as a guide to turning your best qualities into an engaging story.
Focus primarily on your writing style as well as your content.
The proof of the pudding is in your portfolio
Digitise everything, take screenshots, make PDFs of web pages (in case the links break in the future) and keep all relevant documents of your work in your profile to keep readers engaged.
Words need to tally up with actual proof that you know what you’re talking about. Don’t tell too much on your portfolio; show enough to of your work to let it speak for itself.
Include your contact information
You’d be surprised at how often this gets missed! Availability for contact is key if someone wants to get in touch to discuss an opportunity, so make sure to include your email address, appropriate social URLs and phone number.
Get a second opinion
It’s worth getting a second pair of eyes from an industry specialist or professional writing service. Check out services such as Purple CV or CV Squad, which specialise in CV writing and social media profiles.