- Revised 1/4/20010
In the days before the web, job searches could be difficult, slow, and in many cases expensive. Your main free resource was your local newspaper classifieds, and it only told you what jobs were being advertised. The classifieds didn’t have a word to say about how to get those jobs. To get career and job search information as a job seeker you needed to visit career counselors, employment agencies and job services. The web has made the process of finding a job much easier. There is just as much work involved as before (maybe more) but there is no longer a lack of information. If anything, there is too much information, which is why I am presenting this handy guide to finding writing and editing jobs using the web.
Decide on the Right Writing Job for You
You can’t begin a job search until you know what job type or set of job types you want to pursue. If you’re reading this article then you at least know what field you want to work in, but there are many different jobs within this field that you may want to pursue, from proofreader to public relations writer to proposal writer to web content writer. There are many resources on the web that you can use to research writing careers. Here are a few:
- Glossary of Writing Careers
- Salary.com a guide to pay ranges for different careers
- Designing Your Writing Career
- Writing Career Finder
Create a Writer’s Resume
Until you have a resume, you’re really just fantasizing. There is a lot of advice on the web about writing resumes. Different people advocate different approaches. I have been on the employer side of a few job searches, and in my experience there is no single best way to write a resume. The most important general rules are to keep it professional looking, don’t use more than two pages and make sure your name and contact information are at the top. Beyond that, opinions vary greatly. For writers, a list of publications in which the writer’s work has appeared is often included. The important point to remember is that, as a writer, a well-written resume is more important for you than for just about any other career. A person looking for a job as a lab technician or a computer programmer might get away with a poorly written resume, but a person who wants a job as a writer had better be able to produce a well-written resume. Here are some how-to guides:
- How to Write a Resume
- How to Write a Masterpiece of a Resume
- Resume Basics for Freelancers
- 36 Beautiful Resume Ideas That Work
- Online resume mistakes you may be making
Here are some samples of writer’s resumes:
Another excellent method to develop your resume is to use online tools such as the resume generators at monster.com and dice.com. You are going to want to have your resume listed on these services anyway, so you might as well use their tools to help you along.
Create a Writer’s Portfolio
Anyone looking for a writing job should have a portfolio of their work. If you are just beginning, this portfolio might include academic papers and other unpublished works in the field of writing that you wish to enter. As you gain experience (either through a job or through volunteer or freelance work) you can continue to build up your portfolio with higher-quality samples. Here are a few good guides to creating a portfolio:
- Build a Killer Online Portfolio in 9 Easy Steps
- 20 Inspiring Personal Portfolio Sites You Should Explore
- How to Get New Clients with Old Work
- Building Your Portfolio With Zero Clients & No Spec Work
- Writing Samples: What to Show a Potential Client
- Creating a Folio
- Your Writing Samples Portfolio: A Personal Sales Kit & Career History
- Building a Professional Writing Portfolio
- Building a Technical Writing Portfolio
Many people choose to post their portfolios online, here are a few:
Build a Writer’s Web Site
If you are using the web to look for a job, you really ought to have your own little piece of real estate (complete with your resume and portfolio) on the web for people to find. There are many free sites that you can use to to create a web page. Unfortunately, most of them are terrible. I highly recommend getting your own domain and setting up a web site of your own. It really isn’t as difficult or as expensive as most people think. The best/easiest domain name for a portfolio is simply your name. If that is taken, try adding a word like writer or portfolio to it (yournamewriter.com). I recommend dreamhost.com as an inexpensive web provider.
If the thought of setting up your own web site is too intimidating for you, here are some services that will host a page (or more) for you. Most of them are easy to use, but somewhat limited. Generally, the easier they are to use, the more limited they are.
Build a Writing Network
Now that you have a resume, a portfolio and a web site, it is time to start networking. Networking is the process of making connections with other people. The goal of networking is to find freelance or permanent employment through relationships you have formed with other people. For example, if you join a social networking site, the next step is to look for friends or business contacts of yours that have already joined the site. Additionally, you should encourage your friends and business associates to join the site. By doing this, you can use these connections to look for people who might want to hire you or use your skills in a freelance capacity. There are many social networking sites on the web. For a good list of them, go here:
There are only a few social networking sites that are business-oriented. The leaders are:
For a sample of what a social networking page looks like you can view my profile on Linkedin.
There are other sites specifically geared toward freelancers who wish to advertise their services and bid on jobs. The value of these sites of often questioned because they generally require the freelancer to pay for their listing and in most cases the jobs pay less than market rates. You may or may not find value in these sites, so I encourage you to (carefully) check them out for yourself.
Beyond these formal networking sites, you can win friends and influence people by becoming an active commenter on other people’s blogs/web sites. The key here though is to contribute to the conversation. If you have something valuable to say, it can lead to making friends and business associates. If you go to a site and beg for a job, chances are your message will be ignored, insulted or deleted.
Get Listed for Writing Jobs
As I mentioned in the “write a resume” section of this article, there are many online job services that allow you to post or create a resume. Getting listed with these sites allows you to have your resume seen by employers and recruiters. This is an excellent “passive” way to look for a job. All you have to do is put your resume out there, and wait for the jobs to come to you. Some of the best places to get listed are:
Find the Writing Jobs that are Advertised
There are many, many web sites that list jobs. Sorting through those sites is one of the more difficult tasks for a job seeker. That is why it is a good idea to take advantage of aggregate jobs site that keep track of all of those individual sites for you. I try to do that for people using my Blog, but I’ll be the first to admit that I miss more jobs than I catch. That is why it is a good idea to take advantage of Job aggregators. These are basically search engines for job sites.
If you live in a country other than the United States
I live in the United States, so naturally this article leans on many sites based in the United States. There are plenty of job sites outside of the US, however. Because this article is in English though, I am only going to focus on English-speaking countries.
If anyone has a site they want to add, let me know and I will check it out.
Find the Writing Jobs that Aren’t Advertised
The problem with jobs that are advertised on job sites is that you are competing with everyone else who sees and is interested in that job. There is no telling how many other resumes that company is looking at. The better method, and I discuss it more extensively here, is to approach the employers before they advertise the job, and in some cases before they even realize there’s a job to advertise. This means cold calling and sending resumes to companies that aren’t advertising. This is a lot more work that the more passive methods like posting your resume and searching job sites. Despite that fact, the web can still be of tremendous help.
One of the key sites for finding publishers is writersmarket.com. This is a continually updated list of publishers in virtually every market. The site is geared toward freelance writers, but it is also a great source for finding potential employers.
Other useful web sites for finding possible employers in your area are:
Research your Target Writing Employer or Client
Once you find a company you are interested in (Either you want to contact them or they’ve contacted you) use the web to do a little research about the company. Explore their web site if they have one. Use the search engines to see what other web sites say about the company. Look up the names of any people you are interviewing with, they just might have their own web site. The more you know about a potential employer/client, their products and their people, the better you’ll be able to present yourself at an interview. More importantly, you may find a reason why you don’t want to work with a particular company.
You may also want to ask the people in your online job network for information about the potential employer/client (see how valuable networking can be?).
Contact your Potential Writing Employer or Client
If you are the type of person who doesn’t want to wait for the jobs to come to you, here is your chance to get proactive. Once you’ve done the research and targeted a company, you are going to want to make the call. If your research While the web won’t do the talking for you, they have done the research for you. Here are a few articles to help prepare you for cold-calling potential employers/clients.
- Cold Calls (PDF)
- The Importance of Achieving “Flow” in Cold Calling
- Cold Calling: A Time-Tested Method of Job-Hunting
- Using Cold Calling in a Job Search
Nail the Writing Job Interview
No matter how you get to the interview stage, once you get there you need to be prepared. If you’ve followed the rest of the article, you should be ready to arrive at your interview with your resume, your portfolio, and a well-researched knowledge of the company you are interviewing with. All you need to do now is be friendly, charming, interesting and able to answer whatever question the interviewer sees fit to throw at you. But how do you anticipate their questions? Once again, the web is ready to come to your aid. Here are some handy articles about the interview process.
- Interview Question Bank
- 50 Common Interview Questions
- Job Interview Questions and Answers
- Interview Monster
- Interviewing Success
- Stupid Interview Questions
- The 25 most difficult questions you’ll be asked on a job interview