Just introduce yourself. Writing about yourself can be tough, because you’ve got a lot to say. Your whole lifetime of experiences, talents, and skills in a paragraph, or a couple of paragraphs? Whatever kind of writing you’re planning on doing, whatever your purpose, just think about it like you’re introducing yourself to a stranger. What do they need to know? Answer questions like:
- Who are you?
- What is your background?
- What are your interests?
- What are your talents?
- What are your achievements?
- What challenges have you faced?
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Start with a short list of your talents and interests, If you’re not sure what to choose to start, or if you’re only allowed to pick one thing for the assignment, try listing out as many as possible and brainstorming good details that will help you decide. Answer the questions in the previous step, then sketch out as many different answers as possible.
Narrow your topic. Pick one specific topic, describe it in detail, and use that to introduce yourself. It’s better to pick one thing and use it to describe yourself in lots of detail, than to give someone a big long list of general topics.
- What seems the most interesting or unique? What describes you the best? Pick that topic.
Use a few good details. When you’ve got a specific topic to narrow in on, describe it specifically, giving us something unique to hold onto. Remember, you’re telling us about you. The more details, the better:
- Bad: I like sports.
- Ok: I’m a fan of basketball, football, tennis, and soccer.
- Better: My favorite sport is football, both to watch and to play.
- Good: When I was growing up, I would watch Big Ten football with my dad and brothers every Saturday, before we’d go outside and toss the football around. I’ve loved it ever since.
Be humble . Even if you’re very accomplished, talented, or cool, you want to come across like a down-to-earth person. Don’t write about yourself to brag. List your accomplishments and your successes, but temper them with some more humble language:
- Braggy: I’m the best and most dynamic worker at my company right now, so you should want to hire me for my talents.
- Humble: I was lucky enough to be awarded three employee of the month awards at my current job, more than any other employee.
Method Two of Four:
Writing Personal Essays for School Edit
Come up with an excellent story to tell. Personal essays are commonly used for college applications and school assignments. It’s dissimilar from a cover letter in that the purpose of a cover letter is to introduce a candidate for employment or admission, while a non-fiction essay is for exploring a theme. Basically, this type of assignment requires that you tell a story about yourself, using specific, real-life details that highlight a particular theme or idea throughout the essay.
- Common themes or prompts for autobiographical essays include overcoming obstacles, great successes or spectacular failures, and times you learned something about yourself.
Stay focused on a single theme or purpose. Unlike a cover letter, an autobiographical essay shouldn’t jump around quickly between different themes or events that you’d like to highlight to make yourself look good, but stay focused on a single event or theme that makes some greater point.
- Depending on the assignment, you may need to connect a personal anecdote to a reading or an idea from class. Start brainstorming topics that are connected to that idea to give yourself a variety of options to choose from.
Write about complex topics, not cliches. An essay doesn’t need to make you look good at all. When you’re thinking of topics to write about, think about your triumphs and successes, but also give some thought to parts of your life that could use improvement. The time you forgot to pick up your sister from practice while you were partying with friends, or the time you skipped class and got caught might make for great essays too.
- Common autobiographical essay cliches include sports stories, mission trips, and dead grandmothers. While these can all make for excellent essays if done well, it’s difficult to stand out telling the story of the time your lacrosse team lost a big game, then practiced hard, then won. We’ve read that before.
Limit the timeline as much as possible. It’s almost impossible to write a good five page essay about your entire life up to your 14th birthday. Even a topic like “my senior year” is much too complex to actually pull off in a good essay. Pick an event that spanned no more than a day, or a few days at most.
- If you want to tell the story of your nasty break-up, start with the break-up, don’t start with the star-crossed way you met. You’ve got to get immediately to the tension in the story.
Use vivid details. These types of essays are better the less you include. If you want to write a good non-fictional essay, it needs to be chock-full of vivid details and specific images and senses.
- When you have some idea of your topic, start writing a “memory list” of specific things that you remember about the event. What was the weather like? What did it smell like? What did your mother say to you?
- Your opening paragraph will set the tone for the rest of the essay. Rather than telling the dull biographical details (your name, your place of birth, your favorite food), find a way to express the essence of the story you’re going to tell and the themes you’re going to explore in your essay.
Start in the middle of the story. Don’t worry about “building suspense” in an autobiographical essay. If you want to tell the story about the time you accidentally ruined Thanksgiving dinner, then recover? How did people react? How did you move on? That’s the essay.
Connect the details to the big theme. If you’re writing an essay about a disaster at Thanksgiving some time ago, don’t forget that you’re writing about more than a burnt turkey. What’s the point of the story? What are we supposed to be getting out of this story that you’re telling us? At least once every page, you need to have some thread that ties us back to the main theme or focus of the essay you’re writing.
Method Three of Four:
Writing a Cover Letter for an Application Edit
Find the prompt. If you need a cover letter for a job or internship, for college, or for some other application opportunity, there will sometimes be a description or prompt of what’s expected in the letter. Depending on the nature of the application, you may need to describe your readiness to complete the job, your qualifications, or other specific criteria. Possible prompts may include:
- Outline your qualifications and highlight your talents in a cover letter.
- Tell us about yourself.
- In a cover letter, describe how your education and experience qualifies you for this position.
- Explain how this opportunity will benefit your career goals.
Match the style to the purpose. Different employers and situations will call for different styles and tones in a cover letter. If you’re applying to a university, it’s always best to use a professional and academic tone throughout the letter. When you’re applying to blog for a tech start-up that tells you to “Explain three things you rock at!” it’s probably better to use a looser and more informal style of writing. 
- When in doubt, keep it brief and keep it serious. If you’re unsure whether or not telling an amusing anecdote about your friend’s bachelor party would go over well in a cover letter, it’s probably best to leave it out.
Describe why you’re writing in the first paragraph. The first two sentences should explain the purpose of your cover letter and your application clearly. If someone reading your cover letter is unclear about what it is you want, your application will quickly get chucked in the trash.
- “I’m writing to apply for the entry-level position with Company Inc. advertised on your website. I think my experience and training makes me an ideal candidate for this position.”
- Contrary to popular belief, it’s not necessary to include your name in the body of the letter: “My name is John Smith and I’m applying. ” Your name will be included in the signature, as well as the header of a cover letter, so there’s no need to put it in the text itself.
Structure the cover letter as a cause and effect. A cover letter should explain to the potential employer or admissions board why you are the best candidate for the position, or why you should be admitted to the university or program to which you’re applying. To do this, you need to make sure every cover letter describes what you bring to the table and how that will help satisfy the ambitions of both parties. Make sure all cover letters describe the following details clearly:
- Who you are and where you come from.
- Where you want to go.
- How this opportunity would potentially help you get there.
Detail your talents and skills specifically. What makes you the ideal type of candidate for the job or position you’re applying for? What experiences, skills, training, and talent do you bring to the table?
- Be as specific as possible. It’s ok to write that you’re “A passionate leader in all walks of life” but it would be much better to write about an example of a time you lead in a surprising way.
- Stay focused on skills and talents that connect specifically to the thing you’re applying for. Extracurricular involvement, leadership roles, and other types of outstanding achievement may be important to you personally and may tell the readers about you, or it may be totally extraneous. If you include something, make sure you connect it specifically to the goal of the cover letter.
Describe your goals and ambitions. Where do you want to go from here? Both admission boards and employers are more interested in people with ambitions for themselves, self-starters who will be motivated to achieve at a high level. Describe what you want and how this position will help you achieve that goal.
- Be as specific as possible. If you’re writing a university cover letter, it’s obvious that you have to have a degree to get a job as a doctor. But why this degree? Why this school? What, specifically, do you need to learn?
Explain how both parties will benefit from your selection. What do you bring to the table that other candidates don’t? How would the university benefit from having you as a member of the student body? How would you benefit from getting that new job? Your readers will be interested in knowing what’s at stake for both.
- Be careful about using a cover letter to critique a business. It’s not the time to describe the suffering of a particular brand over the previous fiscal quarter, then promising that you’ll be able to turn it around with your ideas. That might not go over well at the office, and you might not be able to, if you do get the job.
Don’t mistake the cover letter for the resume. While it’s important to list your best skills, as they apply to the job you are interested in, a cover letter isn’t a good place to list the minute details of your education, or other information that belongs on the resume. Since most places will ask for both, make sure the resume and the cover letter contain different information.
- Even if it’s impressive, a high GPA or class ranking doesn’t belong in a cover letter. Highlight it on your resume, but don’t include it in two different places on the application.
Keep it brief. Ideal cover letters should be no more than one or two pages, single-spaced, or somewhere between 300-500 words. Certain places may call for longer letters, in the neighborhood of 700-1000 words, but it’s rare that cover letters should ever be longer than that.
Format the letter. Cover letters are usually single-spaced and word-processed in a normal, legible font like Times or Garamond. Generally, cover letters should include a salutation addressed to the admission board or a specific contact listed on the application, a closing with your signature, and the following contact information included in the header of the document:
- Your name
- Mailing address
- Telephone and/or fax number
Method Four of Four:
Writing a Short Bio Note Edit
Write about yourself in the third person. Short blurb-style bio notes are common in work directories, pamphlets, and other materials. You may be asked to provide one for any number of reasons. They’re usually short, and can be somewhat awkward to write.
- Pretend you’re writing about someone else. Write your name and start describing that person like a character or a friend: “John Smith is the Executive Vice President of Company Inc. “
Explain your position or title. Be sure to clarify your specific role and specialty, taking into consideration the purpose of the bio note. Describe what it is you do and what it is that people know you for.
- If you’re a jack of all trades, say so. Don’t be afraid to list “actor, musician, mother, motivational speaker, and professional rock climber” if they all apply equally.
Briefly list your responsibilities or accomplishments. If you’re a frequent winner of awards and distinctions, a bio note is a good time to list them and toot your own horn. Try to keep bio notes focused on recent history.
- It’s common to list degrees that you’ve received as well, paying special attention to anything that ties into the work you are writing about. If you have special training, include it here.
Include a bit of your personal life. Bio notes don’t need to be cold. It’s common to end on a small personal detail that will spice up bio notes a bit. Consider including your cat’s name, or a quirky detail about a hobby:
- “John Smith is the Executive Vice President of Company Inc. in charge of marketing and overseas acquisitions. He received an MBA with distinction from Harvard and lives in Montauk with his cat Cheeto.”
- Don’t overshare. It can seem funny to immediately start with “John Smith loves rafting and hates eating Cheetos. He’s a total boss” and such bio notes can be appropriate for some venues, but be careful to avoid awkward oversharing. Telling everyone about your killer hangover might be best left for after work talk.
Keep it brief. Generally, these types of bio notes are no more than a few sentences. They’ll usually be included on a contributor page or a list of other employees all together, and you don’t want yours to stand out as the person who droned on for half a page, when everyone else used a few sentences.
- Stephen King, one of the most successful and popular authors in recent history, has a bio note that just lists the name of his family members, his hometown, and his pets. Consider leaving out the self-congratulation entirely.
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