Producing a professional image – a difficult job.

I have been dealing with so many projects that I haven’t written in ages, and exactly because I got involved with those projects, more and more were requested from me, including having to talk and write about me to people in other projects and countries.

I got really stuck and that made me think why, after all, we are the ones who really know ourselves better, why that’s so difficult.

I started to think about it and some issues came to me. It is obvious that as professionals we need to develop, to build up networks and present a clear image, but how much is acceptable in the professional world and how much would make you arrogant?

Let’s imagine as teachers we want to find a new job or to have a paper accepted in a conference, we need to provide a biodata which stands out from the competition but at the same time, suits the profile of the company or the conference. What are you going to put in it? Will you state every single course you’ve taken, or courses you have given or will you be broad and general?

I believe that we are extremely demanding to ourselves, at least I am with me… It seems, when we need to write down who and what we are, the information you are putting there is not interesting, relevant or even important to other people. It is kind of an auto-sabotage, you might consider that there are so many more people better tailored to the job, or more intelligent or more innovative, knowledgable than you. The fact is that in one time or another, you will need to work on your self professional marketing and need to spread the word of what you do that makes you different from most.

My advice is to consider starting by a list of courses, degrees, titles you’ve obtained, projects you’ve made. You may not use all, but you will have a clear view of the road you’ve travelled so far, inspired by Robert Frost,  it could be interesting if you had taken the “road less travelled” so to “make the difference” and be unique, but maybe you took the road all took, but your steps were much stronger and precise. Anyway, have in mind what you actually made and how well you did what you did – courses, trips, participation in association, conferences.

The fine line in my point of view is how to sound a good professional and not a ‘pretend to know it all’ person ir even worst, a shallow professional that does nothing different or innovative.

Maybe a piece of advice would be to think about the audience you will have reading your biodata. Rank your achievements according to the relevance to that audience and then concentrate on what would mean more to that context. You are not going to put all you have done, it’s not your CV, but a way to create your self-marketing.

Some say it may be difficult because we are not used to building up our image or self-marketing which is not one single thing or event. In order to have what to write, I mean, a sound professional base, you must really consider that as a professional, it is not the institution that has to invest in you, it’s you who have to chase opportunities, so, taking part in continuous professional development events and courses in your field and others of interest, go the extra mile in your job and profession, go deeper in learning new things and then you will have what to write about.

I was reading an article another day and the author, who I don’t recall the name now,  said something about keeping social professional media updated, not merely creating an account, but actually searching for articles, updating your projects. This might come out to be good stepping stones in writing about you.

Well, it seems that I know how to do it, but honestly, I don’t. I am still trying to build up my professional image in a way that would represent all I have done and yet, not sound self-conceited nor shallow. I can say this may take a whole life to be learned, but in our global and so competitive society, one must learn how to stand out professionally and how to be able to convey their achievements properly making sure we always stick to the truth.

We improve each time we try. So, good luck for you with your biodata.

Beatriz Meneguetti

Mª Beatriz Magalhães Silva Meneguetti Teacher, teacher trainer, school director and sworn translator with over 30 years’ experience, graduated in English, post graduated in methodology, linguistics, school management and marketing. Holder of major proficiency certificates from Cambridge and Michigan Universities and holder of the DELTA and MA in Professional Development for Language Education from Chichester University. Academic director of ABCI - Brazilian Association of Culturas Inglesas.

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