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The main objective of writing a biography is to explain – in a compelling manner – your life history and personality traits to a complete stranger. It can be challenging to sum up your entire life into one page, but it’s well worth the effort.
Biographies give a more human face to the matter-of-fact and to-the-point tonality adopted by resumes and CVs. This is your opportunity to deviate from the cookie-cutter style of traditional CVs and truly stand out. But writing an efficient bio is not easy. You have to get into the mind of your reader and extrapolate from their expectations.
In general, a biography should include the following information:
- Your name
- Your current role or professional aspiration
- Your company name
- Your goals and aspirations
- A brief recount of your professional career
- Your most impressive achievements
- A brief summary of your personal life (relationships, hobbies, the works)
With that said, here’s our countdown of 8 killer tips for writing executive bios (usually written in the third person).
Articulate Your Life History
Depending on the objective of your biography, it may also include an account of your life story. It may chronicle relationships with family members, coworkers, teachers, and society at large. This may be useful for students applying for universities who want to demonstrate their communication skills.
When reviewing your qualifications, job history, and achievements, consider what drives you and makes you unique. Start by answering why you love doing what you do and what you offer to the recruiter that no one else does. If you don’t have the answer to these questions, go back to your resume and extract your most important assets.
Start with the Present
Instead of starting from your formative years, it helps to start with the present (what you are currently doing for a living) and then gradually work your way to your most pivotal career highlights from the past. End the journey by discussing personal facts or an interesting hobby (it could even be watching Netflix or just spending time with family).
Know Your Audience
You also have the challenge of making do with a notoriously short attention span for bios. Most recruiters spend less than 8 seconds reading resumes and bios. Chances are, your bio will get the same treatment. This is why you have to be as concise and articulate as possible. The best bios are short one-pagers that summarize your life achievements and struggles without going overboard.
Besides a short attention span, recruiters have a low tolerance for generic information. Yes, you’re a ‘team player’, but how do your life experiences back up your claim to be a team player? The information you present in the bio should be consistent and must corroborate your narrative.
The biography is your opportunity to give your skills and achievements a more human face. This means you have to make an effort at appearing as authentic and genuine as possible. Use a language that mimics your personality, it’s what appeals most to recruiters.
There is no one-size-fits-all style that you can use for writing bios. Experiment with different styles – it could be something strictly formal to maintain the decorum of your role, or it could be conversational to resonate with the reader.
If you have more information to unpack, simply leave a one-liner conclusion at the end of your bio redirecting the reader to your CV. Something as simple as, “Attached is my resume for more details” will do just fine.
Watch the Word Count
The word length of the bio may seem like an afterthought when you first start writing. However, you should have an idea of the word count to ensure you stay right on track. From the perspective of a recruiter, with their short attention spans, it is better to stick to around 500 to 800 words.Any longer than that and you’ll have a hard time finding readers to finish all the way through.
Third Person vs. First Person
You may spend a lot of time splitting hairs between the third-person and first-person writing styles because they’re so similar yet oddly enough, so very different. As a general rule, if you’re writing a bio for a website, it helps to write from a third-person perspective. Use first-person when writing for recruiters.
In case you use the third person, try to use the full name wherever possible.
Take Inspiration from Other Bios Out There
We know it can be tough to find a style that works for you. This is why you may want to work with biography writing services to find a structure that is proven to work with recruiters. You can also take inspiration from a famous person’s biography and how it is structured. It goes without saying that you should never copy someone else’s bio – after all, it’s their story, not yours – but you can mimic their structure to make progress.
Constantly Revise and Update Your Bio
Your bio will make or break your chances of getting recruited. This is why it’s so important to revisit it and experiment with as many writing styles as possible. Read every style in your own voice. Does it resonate with who you are?
It helps to have an outsider’s perspective on your bio. Ask a friend or professional bio writer to read it and offer input.
If you feel your draft isn’t as creative as it can be, don’t be afraid to start anew. This is arguably one of the most important pieces of document you can send to recruiters.
Recruiters want to know who you are as a person. This is best reflected by your conversational skills and how you articulate your life’s story in the form of a biography. It must demonstrate what you are capable of, not just list out a bunch of skills and achievements – that’s what CVs are for. Ensure whatever you decide to list is easily verifiable and isn’t generic.
Now we know this is easier said than done. You’re not a professional writer and may have other things to do. This is why working with biography writing services can help you pack and unpack your life story concisely and accurately.
A good biography brings your story to life from beginning to end. It inspires action and convinces the reader that you’re the right person for whatever role you’re applying.
Author Bio Dave Brown leads the content team at Content Development Pros and has been doing so for over 10 years now. When he isn’t helping clients with powerful content strategies, Dave can be found at the gym or watching Netflix.