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How to Write an Autobiography for a Job

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Some companies ask job applicants to write a short autobiography to include with their cover letter. While this might sound like a daunting arduous task, most employers don't want to read a long novel about your life. Instead you must create a cogent, coherent paragraph about the highlights of your life and how they relate to the job you're seeking.

Jot down reasons why you want this job. Write down anything that comes to your mind. When finished, write down reasons why you are qualified for this job, and don't censor yourself.

Jot down five to seven major and positive events in your life. These could be things like winning a debate championship, graduating college or graduate school, meeting your wife, visiting Tibet and other things of that nature.

Type your opening sentence and introduce yourself explaining where you're from in an interesting way. Write this in the third person. For example, you could write that "John Smith was born in an orange tent on the third day of Woodstock in 1969. Or so he wishes. He was actually born in the suburbs of Cleveland to mild-mannered suburbanites, not hippies." It's okay to have a little fun with your opening statement as long as your humor is slight and appropriate for business.

Pick three of your best, most positive moments in life and introduce them in chronological order. For example, you could say "After winning a college debate championship, John Smith went to Tibet for solitude. Ironically, that's where he met his wife." It's okay to keep your tone light and modest. You never want to sound like you're bragging.

Write a transition after your positive life moments to introduce how you will talk about your career goals and why you want this job. For example, you could say something such as "John learned in Tibet that being true to oneself is the ultimate goal and challenge of life and that the best way he could assist others with that endeavor was to become a teacher."

State your career goals and reasons for wanting this job formally and frankly. For example, you could write that you want to raise the rate of kids graduating high school and enrolling in college in the inner city because you think education will keep young people out of gangs and away from drugs. Keep your sentences brief.

Leave a "tip." A "tip" is a final sentence in your bio that will help the reader remember you. For example, when applying to be a teacher, you could end your bio by saying, "Education gives you the tools to truly discover the world and in doing so, discover yourself, so that you can truly be yourself."


Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."

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