Writing a biography: is it really that difficult?

June 19, 2017
HandMadeWritings Staff

We have all done tried to drop a line about ourselves before, and it’s never easy to get that fine balance between making yourself look good and holding your reader’s attention. Writing a biography (or a ‘bio’) is never easy. How long should it be? What types of bios exist? How can you write a good bio? How should you organize the writing process? That’s what we are going to teach you here.


What is a biography?

A biography is a summary of someone’s life. It can be written by someone else, or you can write it — this is what we call an “autobiography.” In the modern world, only a few people can boast that someone else has written their biography. In most cases, people have to write an informative history of their careers, educational backgrounds, and whatever other information is requested by the task.

You may need to tailor your bio to match your target audience. If you are applying for a job with the state, you will only need a very short and concise biography that will detail your major achievements. But when you apply for some other jobs, “very short and concise” may not work so well: HR-managers know that life isn’t that simple! For this kind of situation, you will need to write a more detailed bio that provides whatever information is required.

Based on the target audience, and on the position of the person you are communicating with, you should have a Corporate Executive Bio, an Employee Bio, a Press Packet Bio, an Email Bio, etc. The last two types of biography don’t need a lot of text and are, therefore, not so problematic. In this article, we will pay more attention to the biography you will need to write when you are applying for work.

So, let’s get started.

Preparing to write your biography

Prepare beforehand!

It’s very important to be serious and responsible when preparing the document.

Before you begin, make a list in your notebook of what you need to have available: your ID, signed contracts, diplomas, details of any grants you have received, etc.

Your memory may be very good, but without the proper documents at hand, most people usually get the details wrong. Take Anna, one of the writers on our team. She once wrote a biography for a new job. Her memory is great, but the interviewer asked her about something that happened a few years before, in her previous job. She made a mistake when she answered the question, and that’s one of the reasons she failed to get the job.

Sometimes, it’s really difficult to recreate the chronological order of your life. This usually happens if you’ve worked on a lot of projects or have had quite a few steady jobs.

The more experience you have, the more you can forget. So pay attention to that, and make your career path shine.

Our staff has written plenty of bios for the happy customers. As one of our gurus (ID 2729) said:

I love doing it because it requires an analysis of an entire life. You see where someone began, how they rose, and where they had problems. Because of this, you can make some informed statements about a life. It’s a charm when customers are fully honest about their background!

Once you understand your history, try to predict your future. What should I do next? Why do I need this or that? If you look a little closer, it may occur to you that the job you are applying for will be a bad career decision. So, let your biography draw an ideal path forward, and try to make your next career step a really good one!

Steps to writing a professional biography

Writing Your Biography

If you have got all the information together beforehand, the writing process will not seem that difficult. At least, we hope so. Start your bio with an introduction. State your name, surname, and profession. Think about the relevance of whatever information you provided, and remember that if you write the first lines badly, your credibility will suffer immediately.

The next step of your biography is your education. Starting with your last degree is a must. Don’t forget to include your main achievements at university, even if they were not that important to you. If you were the coach of a university football team or the President of the student parliament, or if you worked closely with the university administration, let the reader know! Leadership skills are important nowadays.

Try to give the reader an idea of your diverse skills in the professional world. Or, if necessary, demonstrate how much in-depth knowledge you have in one particular field. This will depend on where you want to send your biography and who the target audience will be. If the company needs journalists, it will be beneficial for you if you can prove that you can work well in different situations. Try to give your readers an idea of what kind of results you have achieved at work. This will let your reader see that you work hard and are capable of success.

You should highlight your achievements and concentrate on things you have actually done: don’t make anything up, as it is your reputation that you have to worry about. But don’t be shy: give examples of situations where you showed yourself to be a leader and took part in international gatherings, and don’t forget to mention any medals you have won! Remember that your sporting achievements can be a good indication of your character!

In the conclusion, state your willingness to work on new projects and your future goals. If you are a writer, tell the reader about the new book that you will soon be publishing; if you are an aspiring businessman, provide some details about your future projects.

Now, here are some other hints on biography writing from our team:

biography writing: tips and common mistakes on

What to do: What not to do:
  • Provide enough details, but be sure not to write anything that the reader does not need to know.
  • Find that fine line where you do not lie but still present yourself and your achievements in the best possible light. Whoever is reading your bio will not know your well, so this is the only way that he or she will get an idea of your real skills and work abilities.
  • Be prepared to answer any questions that might arise from your biography during the interview. Make sure that all the dates are correct and that your achievements are verifiable. Everything can be checked, and your reputation is your most valuable asset.
  • Don’t write a lot of useless and irrelevant information. A Human Resources Manager will understand your skills without unnecessary phrases like, “I have had a lot of experience working with NGOs while studying at university.” Instead, just state what NGOs you have worked with. Their names will, doubtless, prove your value.
  • Don’t lie! Some people tend to think something like: “I will write everything the reader wants to see in the bio, I will succeed.” Well, adventurism works for some people… but most of them fail sooner or later. The cause is very simple: if the client or administrator catches you out in one lie, he or she will not believe you again in the future.


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