How To Write A Biography

You’ve got an impressive resume listing your many accolades and experiences.  Great!  You and 1,000′s of other brilliantly qualified applicants.  A solid resume is vital, but it only shows what you’ve done not who you are.  What to do?  Show prospective employers and colleagues what makes you different from the pack.  Distinguish yourself by writing a personal bio.  Relax – it’s much simpler than you think!  Here is the answer to the question “how to write a personal bio” broken down into 5 simple steps:

How to Write a Personal Bio:

  • 1. First things first – decide on your target audience.Are you writing so that potential employers can get to know how fascinating you are so they want to interview you?  To let your students know you’re human?  If you want your writing to sound more professional, it would be best to write the personal bio in the 3rdperson (even if it’s a bit awkward at first).  1st person is usually fine too, but more informal.
  • 2. Be brief! Even though your personal bio can be longer if it’s posted online (in print it’s usually about a paragraph or two), we probably don’t need to know that your pooch Fluffy died when you were 12 unless that incident has some bearing on who you are now.  Shorter, more frequent paragraphs are easier for readers to follow than long, rambling ones.  Flowery sentences may have worked for Hawthorne and Faulkner, but has no place in your personal bio.  It doesn’t necessarily even need to be in paragraph format, but if you’re going to use a list format make it interesting.  You have a lot less space to show your personality.
  • 3. What to include? Most personal biographies at least touch on all important times of life: childhood, young adulthood, recent successes.  It’s important to keep it proportional, however, as you wouldn’t want to write five paragraphs about your childhood and only two about current endeavors.  Focus on recent accomplishments, hobbies, favorites (movies, food, whatever you want the world to know).  Mention family (spouse, children, parents) briefly, after all this is your personal bio, not theirs.  Write little interesting tidbits that are unique to you!  Be careful though and remember your audience – you may love the story of that frat party but it looks bad to an employer.  Also include stories that make you relatable to readers (I was the typical nerd in high school . . .).
  • 4. Stay positive! This is not the place to tell people about the s.o.b. father who left you and the mother who beat you.  The goal here is to make yourself noticed in a good way – employers don’t want to hire people who have a chip on their shoulder (be it justifiable or not).
  • 5. Pizazz! This is not supposed to be boring (for you or the reader) – include your personality in your personal bio.  If you’re tongue-in-cheek, dry humored, zany, or whatever it should show in how you present yourself.  Just remember to keep it appropriate and inoffensive – you’re not applying to be the next Jeff Foxworthy.  Anyone and everyone will be able to read your bio and this is something that employers will probably look at before they decide to interview you.  People with a can-do attitude and cheerful personality look far more appealing than those who are angry and embittered.  Make a lasting impression!

Writing a personal bio may be brazen self-promotion, but you have to be your own advocate.  Even if you have had some, ahem, unfortunate content of you (photos or otherwise) end up on the Internet, a recent, well-written bio will help undo some previous poor choices.  Don’t lie and keep it interesting, professional, and uniquely you.   Being pro-active in creating a positive Internet presence for yourself through a short personal biography will impress employers and make you memorable (in a good way).

Please also check out our articles on how to write professional bios or profiles:

  1. How to Write a Bio
  2. How to Write a Short, Professional Bio On Yourself (Learn from a master)
  3. 8 Tips to Write a Professional Bio
  4. 9 Professional Resume Tips

Bethany Stringer is a graduate of Texas A&M University (class of ’08) and has her B.A. in English Literature with minors in History and Psychology.  She is currently working as a decorative artisan’s apprentice, and plans to teach English in Russia in 2010 as a CELTA certified teacher.  She owned her own business working horses when she was 17, and still loves riding her horse Romeo.  Always appreciating a challenge, she loves sea kayaking and prefers Rachmaninov to Bach.

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  • http://www.howtowritebio.com Barbra Sundquist, Bio Writer

    Great article Bethany! Your own bio provides a good example of a short, interesting bio with pizazz, but I’m left wondering how it relates to the topic of your article. For example, do you blog about business or careers? Simply love writing? Something else? As a reader, I’d love to know that from your bio.

  • http://oneprettything.com Rachel

    This is fantastic! I’ll be linking to this article, thanks so much for all your advice Bethany!

  • http://blog.Brand-Yourself.com Trace Cohen

    @Barbra
    We thought the same thing as well when we brought her on board but were compelled by her sophistication of writing, as you can tell, that she would be a great fit. It is true though that her bio doesn’t pertain to this topic which is something that she should probably look into.

    @Rachel
    Thank you for your support, hope to see you back here!

  • Bethany Stringer

    Barbara,
    Thank you for helping me improve my own biography. I am glad that you enjoyed the article, and I will keep your advice in mind as I revise my personal bio.

    Rachel,
    Thank you for supporting me!

  • Mary

    I certainly enjoyed reading your bio, especially your first paragraph. I taught school many years and am still tutoring kids after school. It is hard today to make the kids have respect for you and still convince them you are their friend., but it can be done. Writing an article is a “thing of the past” for the younger generation. This is sad because it is a beautiful art. Keep up the good work. You have a great imagination and “play on words.”

    Mary

  • Carol

    This is fantastic..
    it gave me a lot of ideas.. =)

  • http://www.brand-yourself.com Trace Cohen

    Glad that you liked it and that you had some take aways. Writing a personal bio is one of the hardest things for most professionals to do, yet the most rewarding.

  • http://www.brand-yourself.com Trace Cohen

    Glad that you liked it and that you had some take aways. Writing a personal bio is one of the hardest things for most professionals to do, yet the most rewarding.

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