Thursday, April 12, 2012

Six Tips on Writing about Yourself

Regardless of age, gender, or status, most of us are confronted with a request to write a few sentences, paragraph or a biography to sell ourselves.  And we hate it.

Nonetheless, work sources ask us for a brief summary of our background and experience to initiate a job application.  Teachers or colleagues in high school require a few sentences for a newspaper, program, or high school yearbook –whether for the debate or football team.  Non-profit Boards of Directors ask you – a retired executive—for a paragraph about your qualifications for their organization.

But we just don’t like to talk about ourselves. It’s not part of our upbringing. We’re told not to brag about ourselves. So how do we make it easy and fun to draft those few sentences that will achieve what we want?

There are many ways to write a biography. However, if you can remember a few key tips, it will be easier and more fun.

-1- Know what you want to achieve.

What is your goal? Go beyond “because I need to fill out this form!” Take advantage of the opportunity to make something happen. This doesn’t have to be a life-changing objective. A simple “I’d like my fellow students to understand why I enjoy football or the debate team” or “I want the Board of Directors to know why I desire to serve with them.” Or, it could be “I need to get this job, so I want to impress the recruiter with my qualifications.”

-2- Know what the requestor needs.

Typically when someone asks you for this information, they have a need to fulfill. Obviously a recruiter is looking for background information to assess if a job applicant is qualified. Those responsible for printing yearbooks, programs or school papers require information to interest their readers in their publication or event. Non-profit boards want to assess how your qualifications will benefit their organization. 

-3- Match your goal to the requestor’s needs. 

This is the fun part. Matching your goals with the requestors needs is the magic in writing an effective bio. For example, if a recruiter is looking for a specific set of qualifications, and your goal is to fulfill that set of qualifications, well – you’ve got the first step towards consideration for the position. (Even better if you have the specific set of qualifications.)  Yearbook editors will welcome an interesting bio that tells why football or debate is of value to you especially if that is something of interest to their readers. And there’s no doubt that if you can couple your business qualifications to the needs of a non-profit, you stand a chance of being asked to join their Board.

-4- Write a first sentence to state this connection between your goal and their needs. You may decide to change this sentence later, but it helps to clarify your own thinking.

·      Jillian Hillcrest is dedicated to using her 10 years of corporate communications experience to achieve your business needs.
·      Joe Quarterback feels a sense of fulfillment whenever he throws a touchdown pass, which spills over into his everyday life.
·      Johnny Debater debates to help him appreciate multiple sides of issues.
·      Retired Exec wants to apply her business experience to advance the cause of a non-profit.

-5- Support your claims with sentences that back up your initial statement.

Jillian supports her statement regarding her experience by describing her successes in getting media coverage to promote products, and mentions her educational degrees that qualify her. Joe Quarterback adds his stats. Johnny Debater can talk about the number of topics he’s argued. And Retired Exec describes successful programs and people he has managed and revenue he’s generated. 

-6- Conclude with sentences that tie your statements back to the needs of the recipient of your bio.

·      Jillian concludes that with her experience and education she is positioned to advance the company’s image and brand.
·      Joe Quarterback might end with his belief that football has taught him how to be a leader.
·      Johnny Debater might mention that his ability to appreciate multiple sides of an issue will help him make better decisions.
·      Retired Exec can claim that he will make a financial difference on the non-profit Board.

Again, there are many ways to write the dreaded bio. But by considering your objective and your recipient’s needs, you have a guide that will lead you to a more interesting and effective description of yourself. 

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