A common question from clients usually lands in my inbox between sessions. After we’ve outlined and started sculpting an About page, for example, my client will spend some time working on it and then realize…
Wait! Where do I put my credentials?
My clients are incredibly smart and experienced. When they say “credentials,” they aren’t necessarily talking about a brief overview of their background (which would definitely have been in our outline), but about their multiple degrees and diplomas, additional professional training, a few different jobs, and possibly even some awards. They’ve worked incredibly hard, and they deserve to be recognized for it.
But the truth is, most of the time their clients aren’t particularly interested in their credentials.
In fact, they can be a bit of a bore.
Your prospects don’t want to read your resume
All that wisdom you’ve acquired over the years? You’ve got to make your prospects believe in it. Stating it as fact isn’t good enough—and it can even work against you, distracting, boring, or annoying your reader.
The way we think about qualifications has shifted rather dramatically in recent years (thank you, Internet!). We now have ample opportunity to show who we are and what we know, which is infinitely more powerful than telling. I’d argue this is especially the case for one-on-one services, where the human being providing the service is much more important than the degree she holds.
That you understand what I’m going through.
That you have a powerful perspective to share.
Your philosophy. What sets you apart.
That you have incredibly valuable information to teach me.
That you believe in me.
Show me, show me, show me.
Tell a story. Write a manifesto. Share the key principles that guide your work with clients—principles I can start to think about applying to my own situation.
Your credentials? They’re the foundation under all of it—and not the main attraction.
[Tweet “Show your prospects how amazing you are—instead rambling on about your credentials.”]
Be brief, and package the info with your client in mind
At some point, however, you do want to mention your credentials. Without a doubt.
An excellent way to share your credentials is to package them in statements that are focused on your clients themselves. This keeps the context interesting to the reader, and shows the relevance of your background.
And if it isn’t relevant, you might consider leaving it out completely.
Here’s an example:
Drawing on my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a decade of experience as a pediatric nurse, and my degree in children’s psychology, I help children cope with and begin to overcome a variety of dietary challenges, from extreme allergies to fussy eating tendencies to eating disorders.
(I made that up, by the way.)
Here’s what I have on my About page right now. I try to keep it brief, and turn it back to the reader at the end of the first paragraph:
I built my business after working as a journalist and feature writer, in marketing and publicity for Toronto’s finest literary festival, and as a teaching assistant and media trainer. I’m a stickler for clarity, grammar and style, but I’m also passionate about creating a fun, stress-free writing practice. (And know perfect is impossible.)
I have a master’s degree in journalism, once edited a delicious little book about women and food called EAT IT, and write short stories in my spare time.
When you present your credentials in this way, the reader can continue to see exactly what’s in it for them as a potential client. You touch briefly on the facts before bringing it back to the reader.
Sometimes, that’s all you need. Be confident that your expertise will shine through your copy and throughout your marketing. You don’t have to dwell.
But what if my prospects need all the facts?
I get it. Your prospects might be super discerning, your work could be highly specialized or technical, or you might just have too many relevant credentials to briefly list in a way you feel good about.
If that’s the case, I suggest creating a second page with your professional bio and highlights from your education and work experience. You can easily link to it from your About page (but make sure it ends with a call to action so people know what to do next if they end up there!).
And always make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. If someone wants to read up on your background, that’s one place they’ll look.
Prepare to dazzle…
Remember, you can definitely impress your prospects…without listing everything you’ve ever done.
Click here for a related post on how to big yourself up without sounding like a jerk.