Having a long commute is tough. It can be draining and there are always unexpected delays. But it has its perks: I binge podcasts, discover new music, and even have epiphanies — like this article. So many realizations have come to me when I’ve just turned off my car audio and let my brain do its thing.
Some backstory: I’m currently two-thirds of the way through a full-time, 10 week UX design boot camp, and we just completed our fourth project — portfolios. I wasn’t too worried about the portfolio part. The “About Me” page, however, was a whole other story. Before, I just slapped some fun facts on that page and called it a day. How on earth was I going to write a professional bio?
Too many opinions.
In just the past few weeks alone, I’ve been bombarded with tips, tricks, and advice. Between what I’ve learned at meetups, taught in lectures and seeing what my fellow students are doing, I’m overwhelmed with a million and one things I should and shouldn’t do when it comes to writing my bio.
After a few weeks just trying to get words on a page, I finally sat down and thought about what my overall goals are:
- I don’t want to come off as pretentious. But I still want to sound professional, and well, smart.
- I want someone reading my bio to actually get a sense of who I am as a person.
- I want people to actually make it to the last sentence.
Some lofty goals right there. In essence, I just want to be myself, but also prove that I’m hire-able. Which is easier said than done.
Let’s start with #1.
Taking a look through my first draft, phrases like, “I thrive in situations when” and “I’m fascinated by the intersection of…” were just too much. I was trying to cram too many big words and professional-sounding phrases into a bio, to the point where I wasn’t sure what it was that I was trying to say. I wanted to sound more natural — like how I write here on Medium.
Being in this class, I’m frequently asked why I’m transitioning into UX. I know why, and can usually answer it pretty easily on the spot. Yet I was leaving it out of my bio. I think my reasoning was I didn’t want to come off as too “junior,” or something…
When I just started just rambling about my story, starting from where I was out of college to how I got to where I am today, I realized that was a way better story to work off of than the fancy jargon I was forcing before. My first draft was, in a sense, true, but it didn’t read like me. The sincerity was missing.
Now, how do I take paragraphs upon paragraphs and make it into something that is easier to digest? For one, by not focusing on that upfront. Get everything out on paper. Wait. Don’t touch it for a few days. Then, slowly, I went back and began to edit it down. I took out sentences that say the same thing. Moved parts around to have a more natural flow. Removed phrases if it makes the sentence too convoluted. I continued that process until I felt I was in a good place.
When I focused on my bio from this perspective and turned off all of the outside noise, I was able to craft something that felt more like me. I got to the core of why my bio wasn’t working for me to turn it into something better. I was actually telling a story.
Just write your story, they said. Just be you, they said.
Like I said earlier, it’s easier said than done. It took a car ride realization to see that when I just focused on how I naturally write and on being honest, it would make for a better bio. It’s cheesy, but there is only one you out there and you’re the only one that knows how to be you. In my opinion, your bio should reflect that.
Look, I’m no expert. I’m not a recruiter nor a hiring manager. I’m new to the UX field and my bio is still a work in progress. It may not meet some people’s standards, and it is nowhere near perfect. But it’s a hell of a lot closer to where I want it to be when I took a step back and focused on being myself instead.
If you’re transitioning careers, think about why you got into your first career. What worked? What didn’t? What made you want to go into this new career? Why is it a better fit? How did you make that decision?
What are some of your goals and passions? Actually, let’s start smaller. What do you do for fun? Got any weird quirks? Do you participate in anything outside of work? Why do you do these things? What is it about things you’ve done that make you happy?
Answer these naturally and record it on your phone if it helps. Later, fix poor grammar and spelling and BAM! You have a bio.
Asking yourself these types of questions gets your juices flowing and focuses on what makes you and your story unique. Trust me; it just might lead you to realizations you didn’t know were coming.
Got any tips or thoughts? Questions? Share in the comments!