When to Use a

A bio is an overview of your experience, special talents and skills, affiliations and accomplishments. It doesn't list your employment history or credits the way a resume does, but instead, notes specific events, projects or achievements that are pivotal milestones in your career. A bio is narrative in style and is written in the second person. Some are written to reflect personal attributes and others are strictly professional in tone.

If you're new (or even fairly new) to the business, stick with your resume. That's what prospective employers want to see at this point. Bios are often requested only after someone has built up a body of work. They're primarily used for publicity purposes and are common worktools for producers, directors, actors, cinematog-raphers, production designers, costume designers, casting directors, composers and editors. If you're going to be teaching a class, sitting on a panel, giving a seminar or writing articles or books, you'll need a bio. If you're putting a business plan together to attract financing for a project, applying for a job where your credits are already known, opening a new production company, agency or business or land a mid- to high-level position within a studio or any other high-profile industry-related business, you'll need a bio.

I have a one-paragraph bio and one that's a page long. It's like your pitch; it's good to have different versions for different occasions. If and when you're requested to submit a bio, it's a good idea to have someone else write it for you. They'll be more objective. If nothing else, have someone who knows you and your background read it and offer notes. Agents and managers will often write bios for their clients as do publicity agents and studio publicists. You can also have a professional resume writer (like Vivian VanLier) write your bio for you. You want it to be well written and to accurately encapsulate your entire professional history.

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