I'm often asked about the 'tone' a bio should take -- friendly, funny, formal, informal? The answer is... a little bit of all the above is fine if it feels right to you -- after all, you are writing a bio about yourself, and if you can incorporate a little of the personable with the professional, that's great.
I recently came across a really good example of how to write a bio about yourself on LinkedIn. Peggy Richardson and I recently collaborated on a project about writing ebooks. Her bio follows:
Books and eBooks, blogging, podcasting, and chocolate. And shoes.
Here's the short version:
Here's the long and boring version:
I've been editing since 1994, but I studied it formally around 2000 – 2001 at SFU, and have never looked back. I work entirely in non-fiction, especially business, self-help, and lifestyle topics. I prefer to work with renegade entrepreneurs who are as passionate about communication as I am.
I've had good success as a consultant on so-called "problem projects", because I can give clear and objective feedback, and spot obstacles very quickly. My marketing and business experience is especially valuable at times like this.
Over the last few years, I've become more and more involved with online content management, especially using open-source applications like WordPress. I often act as a WordPress coach to entrepreneurs of all types, helping to get their web presence back on track. Most of the speaking I now do relates to eBooks, WordPress, and how I market them using social media. (And other cool stuff, like affiliate marketing.)
Specialties: book editing (for content and style, as well as copy editing), book cover design, typesetting and design for both print books and ebooks, book marketing, book and eBook affiliate marketing, social media book marketing.
End of bio, back to Jill...
Well done, Peggy. Anyone who reads this kind of "bio about yourself" would come away with a very good understanding not only of who you are as a person, but who you are and what you do as a professional.
So, if you're writing a bio about yourself, and if Peggy's personable yet professional tone feels right for you -- go for it!
Although the majority of people who visit my website, www.writeagreatbio.com, are looking for help in writing a short bio, more and more have expressed interest in writing a biography. My distinction between the two is simple: a bio is short, usually 3-5 paragraphs, and is intended for use on your company website, or as part of your resume package, or simply to introduce yourself to your customers or colleagues.
Writing a biography, on the other hand, is a different story. A biography is longer, and is often intended for publication. Maybe as a gift to your children and grandchildren, maybe as a gift to yourself! Length varies, but generally from 10-100 pages, and includes photos, possibly even audio and video. (If you can fill 100 pages, I would like to know you!)
The internet has made publishing your biography much easier and more affordable, and I'm always looking for companies to recommend to help you. I found one recently that I recommend if you are looking to publish your biography, or any other type of ebook: lulu.com. I came across this company recently and find their technology to be super easy to use, even fun.
If you need help with writing your bio, or biography, I would love to hear from you. Everyone has a story - what's yours?
If the title of this blog resonates with you, you're not alone. One of the questions I get asked frequently is how to write a good bio when you have been out of work for a while -- sometimes a long while.
It's a good question, and one that doesn't have an easy answer. The circumstances behind the time off will be different for everyone. Some will have left the job force voluntarily -- to travel, go to school, have a family, take a break. Some will have been laid off, or fired.
Regardless, here is my advice on how to write a good bio if you've been out of work for whatever amount of time.
Be honest. Explain the history of your unemployment, briefly and simply. Do not feel the need to go into detail. A prospective employer can ask for more information later if they choose.
Example: I left my previous position in 2009 to (insert reason here). Have a family. Go back to school. Care for an elderly relative. Travel the world.
Example: I was laid off from my previous position in 2009 because (insert reason here). Downsizing. New management. Relocation issues.
Again, be concise. Don't apologize or over explain.
A good bio is an honest representation of who you are today, and how you got to that point. Adversity does not equate to negativity, by any means. All of us have faced adversity in our lives and our jobs and (hopefully) learned from our experience. A good employer will recognize that, even reward it.
So, if you've been out of work for a while and are wondering how to write your bio, keep these simple tips in mind to help you get started.
One of the reasons I like the bio business so much is that it gives me the opportunity to 'meet' so many interesting people, from so many different walks of life. Some are just starting out, some are near the end of their careers, most are somewhere in between. Over the past few weeks I have either written or reviewed bios for a/an:
The common thread in all of these bios or documents is this: how do I write about myself without sounding 1) arrogant, or 2) boring?
Those are questions I hear a lot. It's tough for most of us to write a bio about ourselves to begin with, much less if the reaction we are trying to evoke is: "Wow, he/she sounds like a really interesting (or experienced, or knowledgeable, or trustworthy, or you name it) kind of person."
That's why if someone asks me to write their bio, and they're feeling nervous about the outcome, I offer to send them 2 or 3 other bios I've written for people in similar positions, or similar fields. I ask them to let me know how they felt about that person after reading their bio, and if they would be confident about their own bio if it read and 'felt' the same way.
The answer is always yes. I've never had someone come back and say the person in the bio sounded arrogant or boring, and I've written or reviewed over 1,000 bios.
If you are holding back on writing, or revising your own bio, please keep that in mind. What you may perceive as negative -- lack of formal education or previous experience are common examples -- is equally as much a positive factor in the context of your life and your story.
Everyone has a good bio in them, I know it. If you need help, please contact me, or buy my e-book and see how easy the process can be. (I offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so you literally have nothing to lose.) Some people prefer I write their bio for them, which is fine, too.
My recent post on how to write a good bio if you'd been out of work for a while prompted one of my readers to send me a link to a good article on a similar topic entitled, "How to Get a Job if You're Over 50".
Their advice: "Stop worrying about the "age issue" and start addressing the real reasons why you may not be landing opportunities." The one that caught my eye was this:
"Your resume is old fashioned and untargeted.
If you're worried about age discrimination, don't start your resume with, "Over 25 years of experience in ______." Don't purposely hide experience in a "functional" resume that mashes up your skills without detailing when and where you gained them. The solution? Focus on your most recent and relevant 10 years of work history and make a strong case for your candidacy."
I agree, and have often said so when advising people on how to write a bio that will help them get a job at any age.
Whether you need to write a good bio, or resume, to help you get a job if you're over 50, I recommend you read this interesting and informative article.
And remember, I'm always here to help you write your own great bio.
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.