The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing About Yourself
Whether you’re applying to college, writing a cover letter, negotiating a raise, or accepting an award (hey, you never know), being able to write about yourself is an extremely valuable skill. Unfortunately, it’s also a skill that many people struggle with. Get the low-down on the do’s and don’ts of writing about yourself here.
Some personalities have a tendency to brag when writing about themselves. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with telling readers about what makes you, you, using overly flattering adjectives is never a good call.
Even if the goal is to impress the reader, you should stray away from phases that could make you sound narcissistic. If your writing sounds like something that a made-for-tv-movie villain would say, don’t say it.
Bad: “With nothing but my charming personality and dashing good looks, I managed to convince the old lady to buy 11 boxes of cookie dough.”
Good: “By pointing out that frozen cookie dough never goes bad, I was able to persuade the elderly woman to buy 11 boxes in preparation for the holidays.”
Don’t: Undersell Yourself
On the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t undersell yourself. If you were the leader on an important project, tell us! If you single-handedly organized a charity run in your hometown, write that down!
There is a very distinct line between bragging, and telling it like it is. Don’t be afraid to let people know about all the cool stuff that you’ve done.
Bad: “I’m involved with a group that catches and releases house mice, but most people haven’t heard of us.”
Good: “My passion for animal rights led me to found a group dedicated to catching and releasing house mice, using a special, cruelty-free trap that I designed.”
Do: Tell It Like a Story
People love stories — and better yet, they remember them. Think about the last time you actually enjoyed reading an instruction manual, or a grocery list. Chances are, you didn’t.
If your writing resembles either one of the above-mentioned lists, it’s time to take a swing at a second draft. Even if you are “loyal, charismatic, and trustworthy”, if your reader doesn’t know you, those words mean nothing.
Instead, you should try to demonstrate these traits. Framing things in a story gives you the ability to showcase your best traits without coming across as vain — and when done right, stories can make your reader feel like they already know you.
Bad: “I am loyal, charismatic, and trustworthy. When put under pressure, I keep my cool. I’ve been told that you can never tell when I’m stressed.”
Good: “While living in the swamplands, I worked as a recreational alligator tamer. It was a challenging job because I had to be able to read and react to the moods of the ‘gators while keeping pleasant conversation with tourists who’d come to see the show.”
Do: Write in First Person
Unless you’ve been specifically requested to do so for a bio paragraph, ALWAYS write about yourself in the first person. “I”, “me”, and “my” are your go-to pronouns — just like they are when you’re telling a friend what you did that day.
Bad: “Steve likes to make chocolate sculptures in his candy factory.”
Good: “I like to make chocolate sculptures in my candy factory.”
See? Writing about yourself doesn’t have to be intimidating. If you’re worried about how something sounds, read it out loud. If you stumble over words, or a phrase feels awkward, that’s an easy way to tell that it might need some tweaking.