As 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.
- 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.
- Spell the company name correctly. Pay attention to not only the spelling, but the formatting.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.