I’ve been coaching my son on the writing of his college application essays. We started by googling “great college essays” and found dozens of beautifully-written pieces by applicants who have fascinating life stories.
 
Rather than being inspired by these examples, my son was intimidated. Even though he’s a smart, accomplished, ambitious dude, he felt his life wasn’t as unique and orderly as the students whose essays we read.
 
It was time for some fatherly advice (from a father who has written a few things in his time): 

  • No one’s life is as coherent or dramatic as their essay
  • The challenge is to craft a clear and meaningful narrative from the messy reality that is your actual life
  • Think about the reader: what do you want them to take away?
  • You’re really writing a story, so you get to decide what it’s about and what points to include and exclude 

It dawned on me that the same advice applies when putting together a resume or biography. Your background already contains all the elements of a great story. If you take the time to select the right pieces and put them in the right order, your uniqueness will shine through to the reader.

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