Applying for Writing Jobs

Applying for Writing JobsAs a senior writer at my day job, I have had the unfortunate task of reviewing a couple of resumes for an opening that we have for a junior writer. Luckily, the ones that I have seen have been narrowed down from a hundred and some odd resumes by someone else, so I’m getting the best of the best (or worst).

Now, before this posting I didn’t quite realize how popular a writing job would be. But it turns out it is quite a desirable position. Whether it’s due to a less than stellar economy, or it’s that there aren’t many writing jobs out there, the response to this particular posting was overwhelming.

But even the few resumes that trickled down into my hands weren’t really all that wonderful. They both had potential, but I was honestly surprised that these were the absolute best of what we had received. That’s why I am going to go over some tips for those of you looking for writing jobs, that may or may not help you to get the position.

    1. Send relevant samples. If you have content related to the business, for example, finance, send it. Even if you only have one piece. Don’t only send that one article you did for an internship. And never send personal writing, such as the speech you wrote for your cousin’s wedding. Only send creative content if it’s requested. Stick to non-fiction for businesses.
    2. Spell the company name correctly. Pay attention to not only the spelling, but the formatting.
    3. Look over your resume for spelling errors at least 3 times, and request that a friend (who has a good grasp on the relevant language) reviews it as well. Use spellcheck. Often, a spelling error on the resume of a writer merits immediate disqualification. Harsh? Maybe.
    4. After you are certain your resume is in perfect shape, and I mean perfect, save it and send as a PDF unless otherwise indicated. It will save your formatting so that it doesn’t look off.
    5. Pay attention to the categories on your resume. Creativity is not a skill, it is an attribute. Social media may be an interest, but unless you have professional experience with it, it is not a skill either. Education should be for your education only, list your awards in a separate section.
    6. Have a professional email address. Of course your email might have to end in “@gmail.com” or “@hotmail.com”, but at least have it start with something like “firstinitial.lastname”.
    7. Don’t butter yourself up too much. In your cover letter and on your resume, avoid using too many adjectives. The person looking over your resume is likely a walking thesaurus from having to read over what you and all of the other applicants have said about yourselves. Be clear, not flowery.
    8. Try to match the writing style of the business’s existing content. Look for onsite content or blog posts and get a feel for their tone and style. Reference it in your resume by saying something like, “I have attached an article that I wrote for ______, similar to the one that you published on your blog about______”. They will love to know that you’ve been paying attention.
    9. Don’t be scared to put a firm salary. Many people put a range that stretches to about a ten thousand dollar difference. That’s a lot of wiggle room. Pick a number that you think you are worth based on your skills and industry standards.
    10. Watch out for your personal social media profiles. If you’re linking to your Twitter or blog, make sure there’s nothing on there an employer shouldn’t see. Guaranteed they are going to take a look, and if they find anything damning, you’re out.

Applying for a writing position can be a little more intense than other positions since your resume is likely to be torn apart and the tiniest mistake can affect whether or not you are considered. Make sure that you have actual, relevant, professional writing experience, a variety of samples, and a good friend with a sharp eye and you’ll be starting off on the right foot.

If you don’t yet have experience or samples, start looking for internships or contract pieces before you start applying for writing positions, if possible, to build your portfolio.

What’s your experience like with applying for writing positions? Do you have any tips for other writers?

I’ll be on Facebook until next time.

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The Feeling of Finishing

The Feeling of FinishingAbout a week ago, I finished a story that I had been working on for close to a year. Though it is one of my longer fiction pieces, it’s still only about 7000 words. To some of you who have written novels, that might not seem like much, but for someone who enjoys writing flash fiction and short stories it’s quite a feat.

Whenever I finish a story, I feel a rather nauseating flood of emotions: relief in having brought a story full-circle, confidence that it is brilliant, fear that it is not, a sense of empty-nest syndrome in having it finally be over, excitement to set it free, and an urge to dispose of it immediately. All of this doused in a ridiculous amount of reticence.

While I may have no qualms about publishing non-fiction content to the masses, both using my blog and at work, it’s a whole different story when it comes to fiction. Writing creatively, to me, is to allow another to gaze into your mind and explore the most private and personal corners of your thoughts. And I don’t mean secrets or the like. I mean writing shows how you think, what you believe, and how you process information and emotions on a personal level.

To share those aspects of yourself with other people can take a great deal of strength, and even more guts. The act of creation, whatever art form it is, is one of the only things that we do inside of ourselves. To write a story is to take the thread of an idea from your head and to weave it into a tapestry of words completely independent of the influence or support of anyone else. It is to make something from nothing but your own self.

And, if I am being honest, the internet has contributed to the fear and anxiety that many writers feel when placing their work in the public eye. With the ability to comment on, critique, and abuse writers while maintaining anonymity, honesty and quality feedback can be lost in a sea of useless, negative garbage.

And it isn’t only the aspiring writers who experience these poisonous comments, the vampire queen Anne Rice herself is leading a battle against these online trolls, specifically in relation to Amazon reviews.

But the feeling of finishing, whether positive or terrifying, should never keep you from giving your art to the world. Polish it, smooth it, spend as much time as you need making it the best it can be, then set it free. Your craft, your words, are not meant to die quietly on a page in some corner in your spare room.

Give them the wings they need to fly and then push them off the branch. Sometimes it will be a rocky start, sometimes it won’t go quite as you planned, but no author ever became successful by publishing the first word they ever wrote. Take the good criticism and use it. Leave the trash behind.

How do you feel when you finish a story? Do you prefer to publish one kind of content over another? What has been your biggest audience?

I’ll be on Facebook until next time.

Happiest of Thanksgivings

It is Thanksgiving weekend for us Canadians, so it seems rather fitting that today also marks the posting of my one hundredth blog here on Quoth the Wordsmith.

As such, I would like to thank you, my steadfast readers, for your insightful comments, witty remarks, and thought-provoking content.

I would also like to thank Poe himself for inspiring the blog name which set me on this path (if you hadn’t made the connection before, see The Raven).

I’d also like to thank all of the authors and writers who had the gusto to push through the self-doubt and criticism and rejection in order to publish the books that I so enjoy.

Whether you are enjoying a feast today, or later in the year, I wish you the plumpest of turkeys and the stretchiest of waistbands.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Thanks for following along.

Faulkner Thanksgiving

 

I’ll be on Facebook until next time.

Editing Secrets for Non-Editors

Editing Secrets for Non-EditorsIn a perfect world, editing and writing would go hand-in-hand. But, the world is not perfect, and while some are strong writers, they abhor editing. Don’t worry, I understand. Editing is a pain. It means rehashing words that you have already written, and looking at passages that you wrote and wondering what you were thinking.

It’s a long process that can take multiple passes before even being ready to be passed off to an editor, whether professional or not.

But there are some tricks that you, as a writer, can use to clean up your first draft, making it easier for both yourself and someone else to go through. Wondering what they may be? Follow along below.

Make a number rule. What is a number rule? It’s when you decide which numbers you will spell out, and which you will write as numbers. For example, 1-10 then eleven and up. Or, 1-99 and one hundred and up. Be consistent about your choices and remember to make exceptions such as for years (1977).

Pick a side in the Oxford comma debate. To use them or not to use them, that is the question. Pick whichever you prefer and stick with it.

Watch your spellings. Are you using American, Canadian, or UK English? It’s the hardest for Canadians, since we use a mixture of the other two, and deem variations to be acceptable.

Make notes. If you mention that someone in chapter two has red hair, they better still have red hair (or a backstory) later in the story. Is someone tall, or short, or do they have traits worth mentioning? Keep notes so that your characters and settings make sense throughout.

Research. If you are introducing, for example, an android, into your story, you better make sure that you actually know what that is. Or, if your saying that someone rode a horse from one place to another in so many days, make sure the timeline makes sense. It doesn’t take much to Google a question or two.

Names. If you’re making up names as you go, keep a list of them and their spellings. For example, if you’re naming someone Bartram VanHoutenstein of the Agarentia Valley, are you going to remember exactly how to spell it every time? Or who his brothers or sisters or children are? Maybe not. Make a note of capitalization as well.

Edit like it’s a puzzle. It’s hard to sit down and edit a whole story at once, so break it up into pieces, but don’t forget to keep in mind that you are also editing the story as a whole. You should never edit a chapter at a time and then assume that you are done. Each piece fits into a bigger puzzle.

The above tips are used by professional editors, but combine tricks from both copyediting and fiction editing. What type of editor you choose will affect the type of input you receive at the end, but if you do your best to hand off a clear, clean, and learned manuscript, your editor can focus more on the strengths and weaknesses of your content as a whole instead of becoming distracted by small typos and errors.

Do you use any of these tips? What others would you add?

I’ll be on Facebook until next time.