How To Write a Personal Profile

Personal profiles, especially online, are an excellent way to distill information about you into a digestible and interesting format. A profile is a scrapbook of your life in words.

The goal is to create a cross-section of your life and self that will intrigue the reader and make her want to find out more about you. Whether you are creating a personal profile in order to look for jobs, relationships or as a form of advertisement for your vocation or business, there are some basic steps that you’ll want to follow. Of course, profiles for internet dating sites are a little less formal – if you’re writing a profile for one of these sites, I highly recommend Dating Profile Idea; the tips and snippets there will give great results!

In any case, you should definitely follow these essential writer’s guidelines as you’re composing your profile:

  1. Condense and crystallize: The most insipid and inefficient personal profiles are those in which the author writes every little detail about himself. It is vain to assume that anyone would want to read every little tidbit about you. It also shows that you cannot prioritize or evaluate.
  2. Consider your adjectives: Consult a thesaurus if you must, so that you can select single words to clearly state what you want to share (‘optimistic’ versus ‘cheerful,’ ‘pragmatic’ versus ‘down-to-earth’).
  3. Choose specific terms: ‘Avid lacrosse player’ tells the reader more about you than ‘love sports’; ‘repaired ignition and brakes’ is more interesting than ‘mechanically inclined.’
  4. Give examples not generalizations: ‘Directed the play ‘Hamlet’ in college’ is far more engaging than ‘active in theatre.’
  5. Use power words: Typically this refers to action verbs, but be mindful in all word choices to use direct, punchy words not lazy, dull phrases, for example, ‘design’ versus ‘make;’ ‘collaborative’ vs. ‘work well with others.’how to write a personal profile
  6. Say it in a short sentence: Say what you mean. Don’t dissemble, beat around the bush, vacillate, reiterate, digress, homilize, pontificate, dwell or endlessly explain. If questions or comments arise, you can elaborate at that time. This is especially crucial on the resume when you describe your work. Say what you did (i.e. ‘process FIA requests’ versus ‘help people become financially solvent’). Getting to the point is imperative for the online profile in which you take a stand on issues or state beliefs (i.e. ‘I campaign for gun-control,’ ‘pro-life’).
  7. Write in outline format: An outline format is easier to read than a narrative format. Lists give a snapshot view of a person’s life.
  8. Present a 3D image of yourself: Don’t just focus on a few areas of your life. We are complex and have many facets. Use the aforementioned tools to give information about yourself on many subjects such as your personal goals, interests, talents, etc.:
    • personality (choose 3 power words)
    • likes/dislikes
      • food
      • entertainment
      • activities
      • hobbies
      • music
    • family life
    • education
    • religion/spirituality/beliefs
    • causes you are active in
    • living situation
    • pet peeves (You can learn a lot about a person on this issue alone.)
    • goals/dreams/plans
    • travel
    • hope to accomplish
    • family structure or size (i.e. ‘Would like to have 5 kids.’)
    • unusual experiences (i.e. ‘Worked in the peace corps in the Sudan,’ ‘went to Germany in school,’ ‘survived a severe storm,’ ‘met famous person,’ ‘home-schooled kids.’)
    • what is important to you (i.e. ‘saving money to help the needy’ or ‘protect the environment.’)
    • talents or skills
      • musical
      • artistic
      • sports
      • drama
    • groups or affiliations or online communities you belong to (another way to learn about someone)
  9. Share positive things, but not sugar-coated: Everyone has problems, but no one wants to read a bunch of negative soul-purging. You don’t have to be Pollyanna, but try not to be Scrooge either. Don’t whine, complain, or endlessly describe your health problems, relationship dramas, kid problems, work woes, etc. People who do this should have warning signs on their profiles.
  10. Be honest: Don’t lie or exaggerate. It blows up in your face sooner or later.
  11. Take pride in who you are and what you are all about. Speak positively about yourself. Obviously, don’t brag about your personal skills and talents, but neither is it helpful to berate or criticize yourself. It makes people uncomfortable and it’s annoying to feel that you have to build up another person’s ego constantly. Self-criticism is really a form of manipulation over others. No one can get close to you. The girl who says, ‘I’m fat, I’m not pretty, I’m dumb..’ relentlessly will turn people away.
  12. Don’t use your profile as a place to preach. There are sects and groups who believe that their job is to convert the world to their way of thinking. As urgent as this may seem, the personal profile is not the venue to use. It will not promote your message in a healthy way.
  13. Don’t advertise, sell or promote. If you need customers, use a known business network. The personal profile is about you and should not be used to make money. The site you use may put ads on, but that is how they generate funds to keep the sites free.

It’s important to seek writing help such as this article before writing. This is your own little message to the world. If you use these tips to make a profile–whether for dating or work-related reasons–everyone can enjoy the benefits.


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