Rachael on the go

Quick writing tips and ideas, but some musings too

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Talk about yourself, differently

One of our trickiest writing tasks is writing about ourselves. We don’t want to sound arrogant or pushy. And we usually don’t want to sound off the wall. But not boring either! No, we just want to sound like a great person to know and have on board.

Whether you’re describing yourself in a CV, or in a bio for a tender, conference or company website, you need to craft your ‘persona’. That is, you need to box yourself as a neat package tied with a bow (and by ‘bow’ I mean a cool fact that your reader can mentally file away about you).

Try these three tips.

1. Be engaging but truthful. Don’t cast around words like ‘expert’ and ‘whiz’ and ‘experienced’ unless they do actually apply to you. Instead, make your education journey part of your appeal:

I am learning to use Nuance Dragon Magic, and I love it! I now use this speech recognition program to prepare first drafts of all my writing.

2. Keep it real, paint a picture. Don’t say you’re an ‘avid reader’ or you ‘love travel’. Instead, create an image of you in action:

I have a tower of novels on my bedside table. As I knock off one, I buy another one to replace it. Always surrounded by new books!

I have been around most of Australia, but I also love exploring other countries. For me, the ‘travel’ starts when I get there: new food, new people, new music, even new transport. (I once travelled to an Irish pub by tractor.

3. Be fresh. Don’t use the same old phrases. Filling out an application for a student leadership role, my daughter had to address the criteria of being ‘confident’, ‘flexible’ and ‘passionate’. Blah, blah, blah. I suggested she skip the descriptors and instead talk about situations that implied those characteristics. Look at these examples that I helped a young friend prepare:

I volunteered at a nursing home last year. I learnt how to hold a conversation with dementia patients, how to follow instructions to the letter, and how to deal with days that have both highs (a banjo playing bingo caller) and lows (a grieving relative). (Implies someone who has empathy, and who is patient and adaptable)

I play the violin in the school choir. It is often hard, but the other students are inspiring, and the music can lift me out of an ordinary day. (Implies someone who keeps trying, and who draws energy from creative pursuits and from colleagues)

These last two examples contain a simple fact (the volunteering and violin playing) followed by a statement that nails down something about the person’s manner/style/growth.

You’ll find plenty of other material out there to help you choose good words for your bio, so get started on the best text version of yourself!