Over many years, I’ve vetted, interviewed, hired, and contributed to a variety of teams’ processes to hire dozens of writers and editors.
Some have been for freelance or contract roles; others for full-time salaried positions. Some have been for copywriting roles, others have been UX writing, blog writing, and email writing.
Different companies have different hiring processes, and therefore every company’s vetting and reviewing process will be different. But there are a few consistencies, no matter what the role or company is. If you’re looking for writing work, or plan to be looking at some point, keep reading for some tips to make sure you stand out.
Show your skills
A good writer will demonstrate their writing skills in their resume, LinkedIn, and portfolio.
If your writing is convoluted, jargon-filled, or has typos, a hiring manager might predict that’s how you’ll write when given a brief or project doc—and pass.
If your writing is clean, concise, friendly, and gives me the information I need to hire you, I might predict you also take a thoughtful approach to any copy you’re writing professionally—and reach out.
Help me help you
The information I need to hire you isn’t some trick. It means you’ll want to be sure you’re providing the most important information: who you are and how to get in touch.
A hiring manager needs:
- Your contact information. Don’t hide this or put it in an image. If you want a hiring manager to reach out, make it easy for them.
- Your previous experience. Include places you’ve worked, responsibilities you had, accomplishments you achieved.
- Your availability. If you’ve taken a full-time role and aren’t looking for freelance work anymore, please update your LinkedIn title to take out the “freelance” part. If you’re looking for freelance or contract work, adding “freelance” or “independent” in your title makes it incredibly so much easier for a hiring manager to reach out.
Make it easy to see your writing
There are dozens of great articles online today about how to create a good writing portfolio, so I won’t go into detail here (hint: try searching Medium for “writing portfolio”).
The main point is that you need one.
Not all hiring managers are in a situation where they’re receiving referrals from internal employees. Many are also hiring for a role they’ve never hired for (for example, the company’s first blog editor). That means it’s even more important for them to see samples of what you’ve written, so they can do the best hiring possible.
Without an easy way to see your best writing—writing you’re proud of—a hiring manager might just skip right over your application or profile.
Freelance writers are the rule, not the exception
If you have “freelance” in your title on LinkedIn and have made it clear you’re actively looking for work, you need a portfolio in your description or contact information.
I’m always surprised by the number of freelance writers on LinkedIn who have their profile option turned to “looking for work,” yet have no way for anyone to see anything they’ve written.
They’re almost always a pass, 99.999% of the time.
Hiring managers, especially those who need to seek out candidates instead of reviewing applications (as in a full-time role process), don’t have the time to do the work you could be doing upfront.
Every hiring manager also has a regular job, often managing a creative team. Those days are often filled with meetings, reviews, projects, and a dozen other moving pieces, in addition to vetting and hiring (and having a life outside of work).
The more you can offer samples of your writing, your process, and your experience upfront, the easier the whole process will be for everyone.
Present your best self
The way you present yourself online can be a glimpse into your working style. Any good writer knows that defining your audience is the most important first step to take.
When you’re looking for work, be thoughtful about what you’re putting out there, and write for your most important audience—the people who would like to hire you.