People are often asked to write a professional autobiography for a company website, a proposal, a program for an event at which they are presenting or the author credit at the end of an article they have written.
In all cases it will need to be short and to the point. But how short and to what point varies. First consider your audience and the purpose of the professional autobiography. Is it meant:
- To demonstrate your expertise by presenting previous relevant accomplishments?
- To provide your educational and professional background?
- To explain what you do?
- To drum up business and get people to contact you?
- To balance your professional status with a little personal information?
If other people are writing bios for the same project, check with them to find out what they are including. You don’t want your professional autobiography to read like a high school yearbook blurb next to mini resumes that are strictly business. And you don’t want to come off as a robotic career machine next to people who handily balance work, family, pets and an enthusiasm for salsa dancing.
A cautionary note here: The personal stuff can easily be overdone. Here is an example from an ezine sent to us a newsletter subscriber. The author coaches home business owners and wrote this blurb to identify himself. We changed only the names:
“Fred Jones lives in Springfield, with my wife Mary and their cats (the number fluctuates based on Mary’s rescue activities). He enjoys traveling with family, photography, SCUBA diving and driving his 1968 Camaro convertible. Fred celebrated 17 years as a Junior Achievement instructor in 2010 and is active in Mary’s animal non-profit. He’s fun, energetic, has a great sense of humor and is willing to give you everything he’s got in the pursuit of your home business goals.”
The writer’s inconsistency in referring to himself in both first-person (I) and third-person (he) is not only poor grammar but also makes us unsure whose wife Fred is living with. Worse, Fred’s purpose – to drum up clients for his coaching business – is not supported by details of his many personal interests and amazing personality.
- DO choose first-person or third-person, not both.
- DO make sure someone else reads your bio before you publish it.
- DO make sure your bio fulfills its purpose.
Need help writing your professional autobiography? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.