1. You're how old?
Age is a funny thing, it can work for or against you. Mostly against, so unless you're the youngest Pulitzer prize winner in history, or the oldest living snowboarder, don't mention it. Readers will be able to tell from other informaton you provide approximately how old you are. That's good enough.
2. Do what feels good - kinda.
Go with your gut when writing your bio, regardless of what anyone else tells you to do, including me. However, your gut is one thing - spelling errors and poor grammar are something else altogether. Always have a second set of eyes proofread your bio.
3. Just say no!
Okay, Ladies, this one's mostly for you. Just say no to:
4. Share something personal.
Consider including at least one thing in your bio that "humanizes" you. Share your sense of humor, for instance, or admit to a vulnerability. It's very likely to be the one thing people remember the most, I guarantee it.
This is one of my all-time favorites: "My friends and I organized a neighborhood revue when we were about 10. Unfortunately, our parents found out it was topless and shut us down."
5. "Should I even mention that?"
I get this question a lot. People ask if they should mention, for instance:
6. Ten years is usually enough.
On a similar theme, you don't need to go back more than 10 years with your work history, unless there's a really good reason.
7. Don't sweat it, just write it.
It's easy to feel 'bio paralysis'. Where do I start, what do I say? Just start, don't worry about the order, get it down on paper. You'll be surprise how easy it is from there. (Especially if you use my e-book.)
8. Family can be awkward.
For example: "Jim and his wife Julie have five children -- three from Julie's previous marriage to Harold, one from Jim's previous marriage to Anita, and one of their own."
Huh? TMI. But extended and blended family can be tricky. My suggestion: "The Harris family consists of three sons and two daughters ranging in age from 2 to 17. They also have two dogs, one cat and a cockatoo."
9. Don't fear the punctuation police.
Hmm, should I use a comma or a period? A colon or a semi-colon? Honestly, it really doesn't matter that much. If in doubt use a period and start over. Short sentences are best.
10. Leave your reader something to ask.
Don't try to include everything. That's what resumes and biographies are for. Think of it this way, give people enough information to start a conversation with you, eg, "I see you lived in the UK for 12 years. My father is from Manchester."
11. "But there's nothing particularly interesting about me."
Boy, if I had a dime for every time I've heard that, I'd be a rich lady. And it's never proven to be true. I dare you to be my first uninteresting bio. Go ahead, try me. If you send it, I'll post it and we'll let people vote on it!
Jill Townsend is the author of "How to Write a Great Bio", an e-book with tips on writing a good bio fast, and with confidence.