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The following resources outline ways to craft effective résumés, cover letters, bios, reference lists, and more. Before you apply for jobs and other opportunities, contact Career Services to review your documents.
It is a biographical summary highlighting your credentials and accomplishments. Written in third person and using paragraph form, it is an opportunity to share specific information that should celebrate and describe your accomplishments.
There are many reasons to write a bio. Most often bios are used for publicity (programs, conference presentations, flyers, websites, newspaper/magazine advertisements, or applications). Your reader is likely going to be a potential employer, a competition judge, conference/symposium attendee, or the general public.
Start by making a list of items for your bio. This is raw material you might consider including in your bio, so don't self-censor. Write it all down and worry about editing it later. Stick with the facts; be careful not to embellish, exaggerate or fabricate, because it might come back to haunt you. Be accurate and honest in how you present yourself.
How long should it be?
Various length bios may be requested. Create different versions of your bio including a long version (full page), a medium version (200-250 words, 6-8 sentences) and a short version (100 words, 3-5 sentences). Consider adding your web address so that interested parties will find more information about you, if applicable to the setting. Bios submitted for the Performing Arts Library Colloquium series should be 100-150 words.
Over all your bio should be engaging. The goal is to give the reader your accomplishments, a sense of your work, and to get them excited about listening to you or seeing your work. Try to avoid the temptation to write a shopping list of your accomplishments. Instead, craft a statement that reflects your image and personality.
Resources Consulted: Books - Beeching, A. Beyond Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music; Cutler, D. The Savvy Musician: Building a Career, Earning a Living, & Making a Difference; Web sites - Guide to Writing Effective Bios (Office of Career Services, Oberlin College & Conservatory); Writing a Bio (Career Services Office, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign).
Current and former employers make ideal references, as do colleagues with whom you work professionally. Your instructors are also valuable references but may be viewed as your advocates; if possible, avoid including too many instructors on any reference list.