Writing A Strong "About Me" Section

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Ashley Sommardahl, Director of Student Affairs & Industry Outreach at VCU Brandcenter, works closely with students and alums to help them land internships and jobs in the industry. She worked at The Martin Agency in Account Management on clients like UPS, Vanilla Coke, and Olympus cameras, before returning to the Brandcenter (she's an alumna herself!), where she's been for 14 years. Today, she shares advice on one of the trickiest sections of your portfolio—the "About Me" section—with the help of some Brandcenter alumni. Here's Ashley—


For many of our students, the “About Me” section of their site is often the most daunting. Here’s some advice from experienced VCU Brandcenter alums who are now the ones reviewing sites and making hiring decisions. Huge thanks to Professor Caley Cantrell for the great prompt!

EDIT, EDIT, EDIT
All of our alums made this exact same point. The ability to edit and distill is paramount. Editing is hard. It’s much easier to lay it all out there. It takes time, effort, and discipline to distill what makes you interesting in a simple, but compelling way. The alums all said this in different ways, but here’s one of my favorite quotes: “Don’t give them three paragraphs and expect them to read more than one. Ain’t gonna happen.” 

Image from    r    eddit

Image from reddit

THE CRAZIEST EXPERIENCE DOESN’T WIN 
“I think there’s a misconception that the craziest story wins. In my opinion, the really good ‘about me’ sections are the ones that say something about the candidate that makes them a better strategist. For example, I’ve seen tons of resumes that list ‘Lifeguard’ as experience. I give zero shits about that since my office does not have a pool. But a recent candidate put, 'learned to profile the good and bad kids while lifeguarding' in their 'About Me.' That gave me a good thing to ask them about in the interview. It made me curious, and I could see how their planner brain might work.”

SELF-AWARENESS 
“The first thing I look for in new hires is self-awareness, and the bio page is the number one place that can come through. I also look at it to see how well they can write. Often times, recruiters won’t even get to the work if the bio page is sending the wrong signal.”

SHARING V. SELF-OBSESSION
“There’s a fine line between sharing and self-obsession. Be careful not to cross it. It’s like porn. I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it. It’s safer to have too little rather than too much.”

Image from    Pexels

Image from Pexels

BALANCE AND PURPOSE 
“If you feel strongly about integrating your social media feeds into your ‘About Me,’ keep balance and purpose in mind. Balance should skew more work than personal, and personal posts should be used only if they validate a strong point you’re making about yourself. Even then, you don’t have to beat people over the head with it. It should be just enough to hook them in, to give them a reason to ask more questions and keep talking to you. Curating your social posts is key.”

MISLEADING BRIEF 
“It shouldn’t really be an ‘About Me’ section. Sure, that’s what it’s called, but it’s a misleading brief, in my opinion. What people want to understand is what makes you different as a person? What makes you tick? What is your unique perspective on the world? I want to read that you were a former grant writer, and that fundamentally shapes your POV on how awesome the creative business is.”

“Don’t think of it as an ‘About Me’ section – think of it as a ‘What about me makes me a better strategist, writer, art director, etc. that you may not see on my resume?'”

You got this,
Ashley

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