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Never Underestimate a Good Biography

August 22, 2013

Charles_SheldonIn the past week, I’ve been writing and editing a lot of corporate biographies and CVs, including a marathon afternoon session today working on 12 staff biographies for a Perth-based client.

What I’ve discovered is that those one or two paragraphs summarising the individual’s strengths and skills are far more important than listing out their qualifications and job history. These days, we can leave that stuff to their LinkedIn profiles.

What’s also really important when creating or editing a group of biographies from the one company is consistency – and difference. It’s also crucial that your biographies reflect the personality and branding of that business. The photography, and written word format and style needs to be consistent throughout, but it’s really good to throw in a few ‘differences’ to each biography. Mix up the language and structure of each one, and include some unique aspects as well – interests or achivements outside of work, or quirky things that might be conversation starters – useful in business meetings, media interviews or even socialising with colleagues.

I really like the way Olikka, a Melbourne-based IT services firm, has profiled its team members. It shows really nicely all the elements of a good corporate biography: olikka.com.au/people. For a good example at the more formal end of the scale, GE takes a nice approach.

(Pictured above: “Sheldon’s Biography“, by Marion Doss licensed for re-use by Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0))

One Comment leave one →
  1. Linda permalink
    August 28, 2013 11:14 am

    Couldn’t agree more Martin. I saw a cracking bio last month and it stayed with me… it was for Shahzad Akbar, a human rights lawyer from Pakistan, who appeared on Q&A. It was all reasonably dry and then the last sentence was:
    In his spare time he likes to cook, sin, read and day dream.

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