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Saturday, January 5, 2013

5 Tips To Writing Your Professional Autobiography

Whether in a cover letter that accompanies your resume or on a linking website where you introduce yourself, you need a professional autobiography.  This brief word portrait of who you are in a professional context is different than the type of introduction most of us are accustomed to making when we meet new people in relaxed, social circumstances.  The word professional is the key, and the secret to producing a positive word portrait of yourself is to remember what that word here represents:  function.  Your professional autobiography has a job to do.  It showcases your skills, education and career objectives—but not your philosophies or theories.  It usually will not not include information about how much you love your family or your dog.

  1. Choose content that fits the function of the document.   Provide the information the reader needs and wants to know, not what you want to say or explain.  For instance, if you left a job because you hated your previous boss, leave that out.   Additionally, you might indeed like to knit but if that interest does not correlate in a meaningful way to the job you are seeking, then leave it out, too.  Do not add details just to fill up the space.  The content should be relevant to what a prospective boss or other professional needs and wants to know.    
  2. Use positive and strong language.  Avoid using words that have built-in excuses and criticisms of others.   Action verbs make you look like a leader.  Passive verbs make you look like a follower.  Which one are you?  Choose your words carefully.
  3. Maintain a friendly tone and avoid slang and overworked words like awesome.  Avoiding clich├ęs and buzz words will give you a distinctive voice on the page or screen.   If you are looking up synonyms for the words you ordinarily use, your voice will most likely have a stilted, jarring quality.  Don’t do that.  Use natural words but keep them fresh and the tone lively and hospitable.  Try to sound self confident without sounding arrogant.
  4. Reduce your use of “I” at the beginning of each sentence.  By using transitional phrases well, you can avoid this repeated use of a word “I” that can make you sound ego-centric.
  5. Use good style.  Proofread.   Mistakes matter because they stop a reader from reading. 

Note that an autobiography is written in the first-person but a biography is written in the third-person.

Example of a professional autobiography:  My name is Daphne Simpkins and I teach writing and I write.  Presently, in addition to writing this blog, I am producing the Adventures of Mildred Budge.  Originally a series of short stories published in Canada and the U.S., there are now two novels featuring retired educator +Mildred Budge, a Southern church lady. They are Cloverdale and Embankment (due out in April, 2013).  In addition to writing, I teach at a local university and I am on the speakers bureau of the Alabama Humanities Foundation.  Other books include The Long Good Night and +Nat King Cole:  An Unforgettable Life of Music.

Example of a professional  biography:  Described as being “of a seasoned age” Mildred Budge is an entirely fictional character featured in a series of books about this retired Alabama public school teacher who lives in the garden district of  Montgomery, Al.  She co-owns a booth that sells antique-type furnishings at The Emporium, and serves in various volunteer capacities at her local church, a non-denominational Christian fellowship.  She has been showcased in dozens of short stories and in two novels.  The next one will be released in April, 2013 and it is called Embankment.   The first novel Cloverdale is already available on Amazon and in other major book outlets both in hard copy and as an e-book.  The collection of short stories that introduced the character and her friends is called Miss Budge in Love.

Daphne Simpkins' most recent book is Christmas in Fountain City


  1. I found this very helpful! Thank you so much.

  2. This blog entry definitely challenged what I have been taught about leaving yourself out of writing assignments. However, composing a professional autobiography certainly demands the use of the word “I”. This is a great first step in learning to promote your best assets in a cover letter and a resume.

  3. The tips in this blog sum up the purpose of a so-what factor. There is a multitude of information regarding the professionalism of the autobiography, but leaving the reader understanding who you are professionally stands out the most to me.

  4. This helps me in writing skills. This has come in handy for tips on proof reading, the usage of I and positive lanuage.

  5. Maranda Jackson (W18)

    As mentioned earlier this semester, writing an autobiography is a vital thing to do! It always helps to have a handy one on file, just in case for certain special reasons. Writing properly is very important to take in consideration, as well, because it speaks of who you are, just not face-to-face. This blog excerpt helps me to understand how to correctly write an autobiography, and knowing that it is written in first person, not third, is a major consideration and rule to follow.

  6. A corporate biography includes only what is relevant, and discards unnecessary information, such as education.