A bio can be one of the most important career tools you have. How it’s written, however, can position you as a stellar player or just an average player. I'll be the first to say it: most bios are boring. If you read one bio after another, you probably can't tell one lawyer, paralegal, litigation support professional, consultant, etc. from the other.
A bio can open amazing career doors. It’s not your resume and shouldn’t read like one. When you’re using a bio, it has to get people excited. A bio is not a generic name tag that says, “Hello, My Name is…..” It’s used on your firm’s website, for speaking engagements, articles, association information, to land new colleagues and contacts, in social media and to sell your current skills and abilities as an authority in the field. Why people spend more time deciding on what new outfit to buy than time writing a bio is a good question.
Most bios generally follow a format and include:
1. current employer or firm
2. expertise and experience
3. previous employers
4. education and training
5. awards and honors
6. community and professional service
7. teaching, writing and publishing
8. special projects and accomplishments
Don’t be afraid to put a marketing spin on your bio. If you want people to take notice, you have to assume that they are not going to read between the lines. In a world filled with spectacular technology and impressive visual aids combined with short attention spans and fast-paced Internet surfing, people need something that will capture their attention immediately. Your bio needs to be in line with the mind-set of today’s readers.
Let's take a look at an average bio:
Libby Del Monte is a six- year litigation paralegal specializing in eDiscovery at Birdseye, Hormel, Oscar & Meyer.
In 2005, Ms. Del Monte began her career at Coffee, Coffee & Whines. Prior to becoming a paralegal, she worked as an entrepreneur for 20 years. In 1998, Libby won an award from Erie County Coalition for Persons with Disabilities. In 2007, she was recognized for significant achievements as an inaugural member of the Bighorn Paralegal Association. Her article, “What’s a Paralegal to Do” appeared in the WalkandTalk Paralegal Association Newsletter. Ms. Del Monte graduated with a B.A. degree in English from Ohio State University and earned her paralegal certificate from the ABC Paralegal Institute in 2005. She is currently on the board of the Bighorn Paralegal Association, a member of NALA and Women in eDiscovery. Ms. Del Monte is a contributing author for KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals and LawBuzz, a blog.
With more than two decades of legal and business experience, Libby Del Monte has developed a sharp eye for how businesses get bloated with inefficiencies, cross-purposes and miscommunication — and how they can retool for a sleeker, smoother, strategically focused organization.
As a paralegal who has quickly built a successful career path, Libby assists lawyers at Birdseye, Hormel, Oscar & Meyer in creating litigation readiness systems and risk management controls. Her previous paralegal positions at two well-respected major firms, Mango & Tango and Somebody, Nobody & Everybody, has given her the skills to master the booming new field of eDiscovery.
She has assisted attorneys on cases ranging from telecommunications giants like POP to small businesses with 10 or fewer employees and up to $4 million in annual revenues. A leader in the paralegal community, she is the current Chairperson of the eDiscovery Paralegal Section of the Bar. She began as an inaugural member of the Bighorn Paralegal Association and currently serves on its board. She is an active member of the Ohio Bar Association and Women in eDiscovery. She writes a popular column for KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals and LawBuzz, a trendy blawg for paralegals. She has been featured in the WalkandTalk Paralegal Association Newsletter. Ms. Del Monte is an honors graduate of Ohio State University and received her paralegal certificate from ABC Paralegal Institute, an ABA approved paralegal program.
Spend the time revising your bio. The worst that can happen is you’ll get more attention and better opportunities.
PS: Don’t forget to fill out the Litigation Support Salary & Utilization Survey for legal professionals working with litsupport software, case management, eDiscovery and technology. The results are free to participants. The info can empower you in your career. http://www.theolp.org/LitigationSupportSalaries