The art of writing about ourselves
This is another sign of our profoundly changing times. In the past, the problem was confined to writing a CV that summed up and gathered academic qualifications, career history, foreign languages spoken etc. all in one place.
In essence, our CV required and requires us to set out our past and present achievements while a professional bio requires us to tell others who we are, often in a very succinct way.
Besides, it is also true that
a mutual trusting relationship between two people stems from understanding who they are and not just what they do or can do
If you are looking for a job and have the opportunity to attach a covering letter to your CV, don’t waste this chance to write a letter that really explains who you are. There’s no guarantee that it will be read, but it can get you noticed and make more of an impact than those who only sent their CV.
If your intention is to communicate openly with the outside world, take great care over your bio on social networks, because a potential client or employer may also read it to find out more about you.
Here are a few general points to bear in mind when writing your professional bio.
- Write for your audience not to boost your ego.
- Find the right balance between a personal and a professional account of who you are, and write authentically about things you feel deeply about and that make you feel good, hence gratified.
- Don’t even think of giving an exhaustive account of everything there is to know about you but select what is most relevant and interesting for your particular audience.
- Take care with grammar but use simple language and short sentences (usually of no more than twenty words).
- Try to build powerful, impactful sentences, without getting lost in words.
- Always remember that you are introducing yourself, not writing your CV, therefore do not repeat information (for instance, if you are writing a covering letter for a CV) and focus on explaining who you are, rather than the qualifications you have or what you have achieved.
- If possible, try to write your biography in the form of a short story.
- Talk about who you are, what you like doing and above all, what you aspire to do.
- Adopt a professional tone but keep it light and reassuring without being excessively ironic.
- Angle your bio to your intended audience or where it will appear.
- If you are applying for a specific job and writing a covering letter to accompany your CV, demonstrate that you have knowledge of the organisation you are applying to and explain clearly what you would like to do for that company.
- If possible and relevant, you could also include links to other things you have written or done.
To succeed in all this, it also might be useful to think about how to go about writing your bio and a few tips might be useful.
- Brainstorm everything you would like to write about and gather a number of elements so you can select the ones you find most relevant and convincing.
- To create a list of the things you could say, think of: what you would like to achieve in your career over the next three years, where you see yourself, the role of your job in your life, your interests, the people you like working with, what you would like others (colleagues, bosses and friends) to say about you, the things that fill you with pride and satisfaction, where and how you live, how you help others¸ what you have in common with the reader or social networks you are introducing yourself to, your mottoes or favourite inspirational quotes and so forth.
- You could also ask other people to help you gather useful elements: ask friends and coworkers how they would define you, what they appreciate in you and how you make a difference for them.
- You could also check out the bios of people you admire and like and see what they wrote.
- Once you have gathered a series of points, try to organise them and select the ones you consider to be most pertinent and persuasive then write some concise powerful sentences on each one.
- You can also ask others to read what you have written and get their feedback in terms of both contents and approach.
- Finally read it out loud to yourself and answer these questions: Is it clear? Is it a good reflection of you? Is it all true? Can you simplify it further?
Remember that you should write about yourself every now and then, updating your story to let people know about your journey of change and professional development.
If you’re interested in the topic, we recommend an article which contains a really interesting selection of highly creative ways to introduce yourself and your work.
The article is “How to Break the Mold & Reinvent your Resumé” published by 99U.