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The question says it all... I know I shouldn't put personal details, I'm thinking something like:

  • How I got into my field
  • My interesting career path
  • Hobbies
  • Half of my work is collaborative and half independent

How much is about me as myself versus about me the professional?

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    If you have such a section at all, its real meaning is "why you should take my presentation seriously." Relevant, recognized, and uncommon expertise /experience. – keshlam Apr 1 '15 at 3:53
  • Could you say a bit about why you think there should be such a section in your job talk? (I have never seen this in a job talk.) E.g. do other candidates in your field do this? What is your field? – Pete L. Clark Apr 1 '15 at 13:11
  • I'm in ecology, and it's been so long since I've seen a job talk I don't recall if this is common. I was thinking the talk is the only time many people get to "meet" me, so it would be nice to just say how I got into the field to give a personal touch. – Eden Apr 1 '15 at 14:30
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The job talks I'm familiar with don't generally have an "about me" section, so you may be thinking of a different sort of talk from what I have in mind. (I'm envisioning a research talk at a U.S. university.) But in my experience, you shouldn't include anything in a job talk unless it illuminates your work in some way.

Hobbies are completely out, except in rare cases when they seriously influence your research. Your career path could be relevant for conveying your background and interests. For example, if you worked in an industrial research lab or have substantial background in another field, that could be worth highlighting. However, there's no point in giving an oral recital of your CV. Same thing with how you got into your field: you should mention this only if it somehow shapes how people should think about your expertise (and this will rarely be the case). On the other hand, pointing out that your work is half collaborative and half independent sounds reasonable to me.

More generally, you want to put the specific topic you'll be discussing in the context of your broader research program. How does it relate to other work you have done or to ongoing interests? What's noteworthy about your overall activities?

How much is about me as myself versus about me the professional?

It should all be about you as a professional. You don't want to give the impression that the best argument you can make for hiring you involves your hobbies.

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    Right. Short and sweet. If you say something off topic, make that part VERY short, put it at the end, make sure it's intriguing for the audience, and hopefully written in an amusing way. If that sounds daunting -- just leave it out. – aparente001 Apr 1 '15 at 4:42
  • I am thinking of US-style talks. So what about professionally-relevant summaries of myself like my balance between theoretical and empirical work, collaborative vs. individual work, etc. – Eden Apr 1 '15 at 5:32
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    Yup, a brief discussion of your balance between theoretical and empirical work would be useful and appropriate (and you could also include some comments on collaborative vs. individual work). – Anonymous Mathematician Apr 1 '15 at 13:27
  • FYI, the "about me" part is mentioned in this answer . – Eden Apr 2 '15 at 17:05

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