You know you need a writer’s resume, but do you really know why?
Sure, the writer’s resume puts a list of your writing credits in the hands of someone who may be in a position to hire you as a writer.
What’s rarely understood, however, is that your writing resume also acts as reassurance. It’s like or can become a security blanket for the hiring authority.
Here’s what I mean. When someone decides to hire you as a writer it’s usually because you were able to build rapport over the phone or face-to-face in the interview process. The resume demonstrates you can probably handle the job – but so do the resume’s of umteen other writers.
A truth is you don’t really know why you get hired, nor does the person offering you the gig understand the reasons they picked you over who knows how many others.
Everyone pretends that it’s an objective decision, pointing to the resume as proof. But it isn’t. The final decision is based on a gut feeling that you can solve their problem at a price they can afford.
The best writer’s resumes get you an interview
The real reason you want a great writer’s resume is it’s the resume, plus your cover letter, that opens the door to the interview. The interview is where you chat with the potential client, listening closely, decide if you want the job and tell them so, and, in some cases actually land the job.
What to consider
Form: Unless you’re writing about design or modern art, it’s probably best to use a traditional form of resume. Anything too modern, or too old fashioned or too creative is likely to distract from your information. Use plain white paper with no fancy fonts or colored type. Keep in mind that many resumes are scanned. A traditional form will also work best on your website – you do have a website, don’t you? If you don’t…
Your complete contact information: Be doubly and triply sure that your name, mailing address, email address, phone number and web address are clearly displayed, probably at the top left or right. Obviously, if you don’t have a web site you should.
You might want to include your Twitter handle or your a link to your Linkedin Profile – or not. Do so only if you think it really adds something other than just more random info.
Maybe add an objective: You may want to add an objective or statement of your speciality. This can be done as a subhead or in a short paragraph.
Best work first or work closest to client’s need first: When you’re applying for a regular job, sometimes listing your previous assignments in chronological order works best. Since, however, you’re looking for freelance writing gigs, it only makes sense to list your best work first – no dates required. Another good approach is to order your credits so they come closest to matching what you think the prospective client wants.
Keep your descriptions of the work short. Don’t slight yourself with the information, but remember the person reading it is looking at lots of resumes.
Links: obviously links to your work make sense on your website. They can also work in Word and most .pdf files IF the person is looking at them online and can click to see what you’re linking to. If I suspect the resume will be printed, I may type out full web addresses on some of the links to my work – particularly those that are fairly short. I want whoever is looking at my list of credits to be able to see some of my work if they’ve got access to the ‘net.
Education, computer skills, etc. Include these only if you think the client wants this info. I often will add the line: Fully equipped home office.
Be interesting: Okay, I said you should use a traditional form which is a good idea, but consider adding either on your resume or your cover letter something like “6 reasons you should hire me,” or “Examples of my out of the box thinking,” or, well you get the idea. When a writer’s resume shows how the person stands out from all the other writers, they often get an offer. You need to play safe, but not too safe.
References: I rarely disagree with Seth Gooden, but he recently said we shouldn’t use the phrase ‘references upon request.’ The reason I don’t put references on a resume that may get printed or on my website is I have some feeling I shouldn’t expose my references to spam and the other idiocy that can happen on the ‘net. Instead, I’ll use testimonials which may or may not link to that person’s contact information – it’s up to them to decide, not me. After the interview is complete or almost I’ll ask if they want my references. A ‘yes’ is just one more indication they’re really interested. That’s when I’ll send the contact info, and I’ll let the folks who give me references know.
By the way, here’s the link to my writing credits -remember I’ve been doing this a long time. Use it as a guide if it’s helpful.
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Write well and often,