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Video By Artist Allison Baker on Bio Writing
General Rules of Bio Writing:
1. When you write a bio about yourself, it's important that you keep the bio short. No matter how interesting your life is, not many people will
want to read a long bio. If you plan to give a short bio in a speech or at the end of an article you've written, it's best you describe yourself in
three to four sentences. If you plan to write a bio for a blog of yours, it can be a bit longer of course. In this class I a looking for a
two paragraph bio, to give you more practice in writing.
2. People generally write a bio in third person, rather than first person. Use your full name (first and last) when you first describe yourself. After that, you can opt to continue describing yourself with your full name, only your first name, or only your last name. Write a bio using your first name if you want to develop a friendly relationship with the reader and write a bio with your last name if you want to be a bit more formal. Whether you choose to write your bio with your first or last name, remember to stay consistent.
3. Now that you know which point of view to use, start writing a brief account of your achievements. When you write a bio, only discuss your
high points and not a full description of your career. The key is to remain brief but also accomplished, personal and someone I would want
4. You can include personal information when you write a bio, but this is entirely optional. Usually people like to know what you like to know a
little of what you do outside your professional career, but writing it is entirely up to you.
5. While you write a bio, make sure your personality shows through. If you're humorous, put some humor in the bio (be careful with humor
though- do not do at at the expense of others). If you have a passion, talk about it! A bio is more interesting if it conveys something unique
about the writer. Try to stay clear of politics, unless they are a huge part of your artwork.
6. If you decide to write a bio that is longer, break the bio up into paragraphs. However, don't have any more than 3-4 sentences in each
paragraph or else your readers will just scan through the bio. After all, you want your readers to actually read your bio right? So, keep it
direct, short and simple.
7. Grammar Punctuation and all other expectations of professional writing must be met.
Resources if you're having trouble Grammarly.com, and the Student Writing Center in the Library.
When Crafting Your Initial Bio Outline Think About These Questions
1. Who you are in life?
The best way to start an autobiography is to state your name. When you are writing this paragraph, you usually explain the type of person you are; use facts about yourself such as: have you won any awards? What types of awards have you won? Did you finish school? Do you plan on going to college?
2. What Other Accomplishments have you done?
3. What art/career means to you? State how you art/career and what it means to you. Where in the historic or cultural context do you place
yourself. What type of creative work do you make?
4. What is your outlook on the future? Explain what you think the future will be like. Pick a year or a career goal and explain how it will be but it
through your eyes.
5. The conclusion is the last paragraph of your autobiography and an important one, too. In the conclusion you usually try to re-word the
introduction and add some type of closure to bring the whole autobiography together. A little humor can be added anywhere, but this is also
a great place to add it.
How to Write a Professional Bio as a College Student.
A well-written bio is a great tool to have in your professional toolkit. Whether for a job application, networking event, or as an introduction for future employers, your bio is a great way to share who you are and highlight your accomplishments. It can also be a great addition to your LinkedIn profile’s “Summary” section.
Depending on your year in college, your biography will vary in length and topics. For example, a senior may have more work or internship experience to write about than a first-year student, and can describe his/her job roles, skills, and professional interests. On the other hand, first-year students could focus their bio on their background, educational goals, and hobbies. In both cases, your bio should craft an engaging narrative that emphasizes your interests and personality.
Bios are written in the third person and are typically one or two paragraphs, depending on your level of experience. Your bio should start with your name and a quick sentence that describes your basic background. This can include your college, year in school, academic focus, and professional interest. Your bio should be brief, concise, and clear.
Establish a Background Story
Highlighting your background will give the reader an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of your personal narrative, which may not be evident on your resume. Also, consider including recent events, such as studying abroad or volunteering. Find a couple of moments in your life that have impacted your identity or interests, and briefly, mention them. This will personalize your bio and help you stand out from your peers.
Explain Your Interests
Next, you will want to elaborate on your interests. For students with a significant amount of professional experience, this will focus more on career goals. If you don’t feel you have enough job experience to write about or are not sure about your professional goals, describe your academic or extracurricular interests. Feel free to add any hobbies that highlight your uniqueness, such as painting, running marathons, or cooking. Remember, your personal biography is an area to describe your personality that is not as easily communicated on your resume.
Emphasize How You Can Add Value
Highlight Your Value
Lastly, you want to end on a high note by emphasizing how you can add value. Depending on where you use this bio, this sentence or two can refer to adding value to a company, team, or event. Highlight your unique talents and skills that would interest your audience. Rather than explicitly stating, “I can add value by…,” share this message subtly. You want your reader to understand that you are a well-rounded individual and professional who can contribute significant knowledge and experience.
There is no order to include all of this information. Play with the format and see what works best for your narrative. Although it can be difficult to summarize your life in one paragraph, this is a useful tool for crafting a positive image of yourself for potential professional networks. Below are two examples:
Example 1 (for those not graduating soon):
Alison Johnson is finishing her first year at DePaul University where she is interested in business. Although she has yet to declare a major, she’s considering finance or marketing. After watching her parents run a restaurant for years, she knew at a very young age that she also wanted to go into business. In high school, Alison waited tables at the family restaurant during the summer and was fascinated by the many working parts it takes to operate a successful business. From this experience, she learned the value of hard work, efficiency, and communication. In the future, she hopes to continue her parents’ legacy and run her own five-star restaurant in downtown Chicago. Alison spends her spare time singing in her church choir and cooking for friends and family.
Example 2 (for seniors):
Jared Smith is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he is majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Latin America. His interest in international development began during the fall semester of 2012 when he had the opportunity to study abroad in Peru. He learned about the inequalities affecting indigenous communities, experienced the Peruvian culture, and became proficient in Spanish. Inspired by this international experience, Jared interned with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, conducting research on food security in Latin America. Jared aspires to pursue a career in international development and write policy for a government agency. When he is not busy reading about current affairs in Latin America, he enjoys playing intramural basketball and training for the Chicago marathon.
Professional Example for Discussion in Class:
As we look at this Bio, try to note what is working and what is not working. What kind of picture do you get about who Dan is a a professional. Would you hire Dan? Why or why not? Would Dan be someone you are interested in meeting? Why or why not?
Dan Schawbel’s Example Bio:
“Dan is the leading expert in personal branding for the generation-y audience, with an award winning and world recognized Blog, a TV podcast series that he directs, Awards that he gives out, and a Magazine that benefits the American Cancer Society. He has written over 20 publications for major magazines and online resources and has been featured in Fast Company Magazine and Yahoo! Finance and is EMC’s social media expert. He is also establishing the first 360 degree personal branding website, DanSchawbel.com, creating a new standard for career development. Recently, he has redefined personal branding by establishing a collaborate wiki, which he is using to acquire knowledge from all the leading experts to establish a single definition for personal branding.”
Analysis of Dan’s Bio
Let’s break down Dan’s bio now, one piece at a time. “Dan is the leading expert in personal branding.” This immediately tells you Dan’s niche, without hesitation and without confusion. When you’re writing your own bio, be crystal clear about what you do from the get-go. Your first sentence should have people nodding their heads along with you… ahh okay, so that’s what you do. “…for the generation-y audience.” This makes it very clear who Dan’s audience is. Personal branding focuses on achieving success by making you the best solution for a particular audience. It would be difficult for Dan to say he’s the leading personal branding expert in the entire world. It’s much easier to be an expert for a certain group of people – for Dan, that’s Generation Y (today’s twenty year olds). Who is your ideal audience? It could be individuals (the disabled, the elderly, women in their twenties, etc.) or groups (cancer researchers, failing not-for-profits, green startups, etc.). Choosing an audience helps you attract more ideal opportunities that better align with your long-term goals. That way, everybody wins. “…with an award winning and world recognized Blog, a TV podcast series that he directs, Awards that he gives out, and a Magazine that benefits the American Cancer Society.” This sentence highlights Dan’s professional accomplishments. What have you done that directly backs up your first “what I do” sentence? Include your most important achievements, but be picky because you don’t have too much space. “…He has written over 20 publications for major magazines and online resources and has been featured in Fast Company Magazine and Yahoo! Finance and is EMC’s social media expert.” This showcases Dan’s “credibility boosters” – items that build a strong argument for his authority in his field. What credibility boosters (awards, certifications, memberships, etc.) might make you a more attractive job candidate in your bio? “…He is also establishing the first 360 degree personal branding website, DanSchawbel.com, creating a new standard for career development.” This shows what Dan is doing to stand out in his area of expertise. What things (side projects, past work, etc.) have you done that differentiates you from your peers? “…Recently, he has redefined personal branding by establishing a collaborate wiki, which he is using to acquire knowledge from all the leading experts to establish a single definition for personal branding.” This demonstrates how Dan is contributing to his niche. Are you doing anything novel or innovative in your niche that might make you more memorable to readers of your bio? If so, be sure to include it.
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