How to write an effective bio

January 28, 2010 at 11:17 am Leave a comment

Though job hunters are taught to be obsessed with their resume, hiring experts increasingly suggest that professionals — both while conducting an active search and “just” networking while employed — spend some time crafting their professional biography, or bio, as well. In short, the bio is a short (no more than one page) mini-profile of your work background and experience, meant as a mini-marketing tool for you to share with other professionals. In essence, it’s a form of business-to-business communication with you as the subject.

The bio differs from a resume in that a resume has a schematic structure — usually presenting your work history, education and skills in chronological fashion after an opening statement — meant for quick scanning by potential employers. The bio, instead, should not be fact-heavy in bullet-point fashion but should try to tell a story that portrays your experience and describes who you are  — with other professionals as the intended audience.

Here are some tips from hiring experts on how to craft an effective bio:

*Use your journalistic writing skills to tell your tale in a bio. As you need neither to be complete nor comprehensive, or to follow a strict chronology, in your bio you should feel free to be more descriptive in your telling. As you should stick to two, three or at most four paragraphs (and remember, no more than one page!) you’ll need to find selective bits of your background that highlight your professional experience.

*Start with an overview statement, providing a good summary of your experience and skills. Then find a few facts that back up these points and showcase your skills — a few of your recent positions or perhaps some projects that you have worked on. Read some well-written blurbs from authors on their book jackets as a guide. You’re looking for this form of brevity and description about your background in a more narrative form than a resume provides.

*Include an interesting fact or two about you as a person. In a bio (as in a resume) you don’t want to focus too much on non-business items (this is for business, after all!) but tossing in a line or two about your hobbies or that you wrote a book or have a Web site focusing on something completely unrelated to your profession could keep a reader interested and also give them more of a  sense of who you really are.

*As always, be careful with the facts and don’t embellish or oversell your skills. Describe with accuracy. Bios are often using to introduce you on a panel or speaking engagement, in promotional material about an event in which you may be involved and for other networking purposes. It is a serious document and you need to treat it as such — as you would your resume. If you embellish, especially in journalism circles, you do so at your own peril at the hands of fact checkers (other journalists). Once you’ve written your bio, it is also a useful guide for writing personal summaries for social-networking sites such as LinkedIn.

*Potentially very interesting hiring opportunities for D.C. journalists and sales folks — I’ll source both Matt Dornic’s item and Chris Roush’s Talking Biz News (especially as they are both supporters of this blog!) on the new Bloomberg initiative…and congratulations to Mike Riley, the former CQ editor and a terrific manager and leader:

New Bloomberg Initiative Takes Aim at Hill Rags

By Matt Dornic on Jan 27, 2010 04:59 PM


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Sources tell FishbowlDC that an underground project, slated to put a hurtin’ on NJ, CQ-Roll Call, The Hill and Politico is underway at the Washington bureau of Bloomberg News. Rumor has it that the project’s aim is to specifically report and track Cap Hill news using a dashboard site similar to Bloomberg’s existing technology.

Few details about the initiative have surfaced but the competition has already begun in the HR department. Reportedly led by former CQ Editor and VP Mike Riley, we hear that recruiting efforts have already snagged several CQ folks including top salesperson Joanna Matthews.

At the time of this post, Bloomberg could not comment on the project or specific hires but a rep tells FishbowlDC, “We are hiring globally and Washington is increasingly important to our subscribers, readers, listeners and viewers. Naturally we are adding staff in the DC bureau.”


Bloomberg considering launch of CQ/The Hill competitor

January 27th, 2010


Bloomberg News is weighing whether to give the OK to a new editorial product internally dubbed “BGov” that would cover the intersection of business and politics and be delivered via a Web site.

The project comes after Bloomberg’s parent company turned down the opportunity to purchase Congressional Quarterly last year, according to insiders. Roll Call Group acquired Congressional Quarterly from the Times Publishing Co.

BGov would provide news and analysis of companies and how they’re interacting with regulatory agencies. One employee said that features on the site would include information such as how much money a company was spending on lobbying and campaign contributions.

If approved, BGov would hire 40 to 50 editorial employees later this year and have a budget of $100 million, say those close to the development of the concept.

Eventually BGov could have hundreds of reporters and editors devoted to covering how federal government agencies and politics interact with corporate America, says one employee briefed on the matter.

The development of this new business model comes amid questions internally about Bloomberg’s coverage out of its Washington bureau, particularly as it relates to politics. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who recently won election for Ted Kennedy’s seat, was virtually ignored by Bloomberg leading up to the election earlier this month.

On Tuesday, Talking Biz News reported about another new editorial product being launched by Bloomberg called “First Word.”
*And, as always, some leads on current openings for jobs and internships:
*The National Apartment Association in Arlington is looking for a staff writer:

The National Apartment Association (NAA), America’s leading advocate for quality rental housing, seeks a Staff Writer to help develop and produce NAA’s monthly magazine units, and various communications products for NAA.

This position reports to the Director of Communications.

Principal Accountabilities:

** Develop, research, collect, edit and write departments sections of units magazine and at least one industry-related feature article covering 1,000 to 2,000 words for publication in each monthly issue through own initiative, and using all available sources.

** Identify, write and edit industry-related fresh content for site and NAA’s social media devices (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) on a weekly basis.

** Assist with editing and proofreading all other content for units magazine and other Communications Department projects.

** Provide customer service and accept administrative responsibilities related to these efforts and seize opportunities to provide excellent value-added customer service to members and potential members by responding to telephone inquiries, offering prompt responses to requests and conducting thorough follow‑up.


Bachelors Degree; minimum of 1-2 years experience working with a professional, printed publication. Position requires researching, interviewing, writing, editing, computer and organizational skills. Incumbent is expected to develop an understanding of the apartment and real estate industry and the issues that affect it.


Familiarity and skills in Quark Express and the Adobe Suite software. Knowledge of InDesign and PhotoShop recommended. Experience working for a monthly trade or newsstand magazine or daily newspaper or as a page designer for a daily newspaper or as Editor and Chief of a college newspaper or periodical.

Interested candidates, please reference 0001-09, Staff Writer and forward your resume, cover letter and salary history to: Human Resources, National Apartment Association, 4300 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 400, Arlington, Virginia  22203 or e-mail to No phone calls, please. E.O.E.

NAA offers a generous benefits package which includes health, dental, vision, life, long and short term disability, tuition reimbursement, 401(k), parking/commuting assistance, flexible spending account, vacation and sick leave.

*David Martin (another friend of this blog!)’s search firm, Sterling Martin Associates, passes along a lead from a search they are handling, for a vice president of nonprofit programs and practice for Independent Sector in D.C.:

Here at Sterling Martin Associates, we are pleased to announce an exciting new search for Independent Sector (IS). IS, a national 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, has retained Sterling Martin to conduct a search for their Vice President, Nonprofit Programs and Practice. Since its founding in 1980, IS has sponsored ground-breaking research, advocated for sensible public policies that support a dynamic nonprofit community, and created unparalleled resources for staff, boards, and volunteers to improve their organizations and better serve their communities. We are currently seeking candidate recommendations and nominations for this position; please feel free to forward this information. For a full position description please visit or contact me for more details.

*Discovery Communications in Silver Spring is seeking some digital interns:

Digital Media Interns
Discovery Communications, Inc. – Silver Spring, MD
the above, a Digital internship at Discovery Communications is for you! We’re looking for quick learners… Discovery Communications, Inc. is an equal…
From Discovery Communications, Inc.

*Time Warner Cable in D.C. is seeking a director of external affairs:

Director, External Affairs
Time Warner Cable – Washington, DC
Legal, Corporate Communications, Advanced Technology… related fields. 2. Excellent written and oral communication and interpersonal skills, with the ability to…
From Time Warner Cable

*And last but certainly not least,  Peer Insight (a design/marketing strategy firm in Alexandria) is looking to fill a position whose title caught my eye — an “innovation strategist” for visual design and communication:

Innovation Strategist, Visual Design & Communication
Peer Insight – Alexandria, VA
Strategist specializing in visual design and communication will: •Glean original insights from client… graphic design, communication design, architecture…
From Coroflot

Happy hunting!



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New ways to find a job when you already have a job Don’t undersell yourself in job negotiations

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