Compelling content is everything these days. What better example than the epic success of Buzzfeed? Now the unofficial cool kids of the internet, they’re a crew that knows how to get people’s attention.
And let’s be real: holding people’s attention is harder than ever. This is a busy planet, plagued with ADD and a misguided obsession with multitasking.
One study suggests the average person’s attention span has dropped to eight seconds. EIGHT SECONDS. Goldfish can stay focused for nine.
So when entertainment and engagement are everything, why are biographies — our virtual first impressions — still so dull?
As content has gotten more innovative and more interesting, professional biographies (as a general rule) haven’t. Most are dry as a bone; a rote recital of a person’s accomplishments and job titles.
But these summaries are a crucial aspect of the professional world; a personal elevator pitch, and if yours is boring, you’ll lose your audience in an instant.
Bios should have intrigue and interest and flair. After reading it, a stranger should feel like they’ve gotten to know you; not pored through a list of your professional achievements but been offered a tantalizing teaser of WHO YOU ARE.
This doesn’t mean you need to downgrade to a 140 character social media-esque summary. It also doesn’t mean you need to craft a bio full of GIFs and Game of Thrones references. This isn’t about desperate attempts at attention.
This is about creativity and personality and spark. It is about the power of detail, wit and lightheartedness. It is about letting the real you shine through.
Here’s a fictional example (a woman you may have heard of):
Snow White is a results-oriented professional with extensive experience in the field of domestic management. With a background in the janitorial arts, she has a track record of success, achieving impressive results in the culinary, tailoring and animal husbandry fields. Previously she assisted in the operations of a small mining business and performed caretaking duties in a group home. She lives in the forest with seven dwarves and a pet bird.
A lover of all living things with a knack for organization, Snow White is a charismatic leader and jill of many trades. She can charm a huntsman into submission, whip up a gourmet dinner for eight and clean an entire house from top to bottom, all in an afternoon. Her legendary exploits have included stints as keeper of creatures for an enchanted forest, manager of operations for a diamond mine and ruler of an entire kingdom. Known for her rosy outlook on life and passionate beliefs in justice and equality, she’s earned the nickname “fairest of them all.” Also an adventurous foodie, Snow will try anything once. Except apples. No apples.
Which chick would you rather know? Or work with?
When it comes to your bio, think about the things that matter. What are you passionate about? What are you most proud of? What are your personality characteristics? What occupies your Instagram feed? What makes you laugh? What do you stand for? The answers to those questions speak to who you are, and who you are (both personally and professionally) matters. No longer is professional you a separate entity from personal you. These days, they’re a dynamic duo.
Besides, it’s likely anyone can find out a lot about you via the almighty Google. Makes sense to put the best bits up front.
You’re interesting and capable and unique. Shouldn’t your bio be, too?