In the right circumstances, infographic resumes – using words and images to convey to a potential client who a freelancer is and what he or she can do for them – can be a wonderful way to get a potential client to sit up and take notice. If you are going to go this route, you’ll want to make sure that you are using this tool in a manner that presents your skills and abilities in the best possible way.
Getting your resume online is becoming crucial for young grads or those looking to find a job. As our Presidential candidates have continued to remind us over…and over…and over again these last few months—the job market isn’t easy. Students do not want to have to move back with their parents and struggle to find a job just after school. And to that I say: No kidding!
As a 2011 graduate myself, I know that the job market isn’t easy, but I realized quickly that getting your resume online was key. You need to give yourself every opportunity to get your resume seen, and this entails putting it online in any way possible. After all, the Internet is one industry that isn’t struggling in today’s economy. Employers are online, sometimes looking for candidates, as much as the next person, so you want to make sure you’re easy to find.
We share lots of tips for freelance writers here at Freelance Writing Jobs but we don’t often delve into the client’s point of view. Since several members of the FWJ community have asked about how clients qualify writers, I felt this worthy of exploration.
“But Deb,” you might be saying to yourself, “You’re a mere blogger. How are you qualified to talk about hiring freelance writers? You’re not a client. You work for clients.”
Those are very good questions. Blind trust is never a good thing, and we should always ask to see what isn’t obvious. The truth is, I’ve hired dozens of freelance writers over the past 20 years. Not only for this network, but also for clients, when I was an editor for several sites, and for both the publishing and graphic design firms I worked for in the 80’s and 90’s. I can tell you some of the methods I use to research freelance writers, and if there are any freelance writing clients in the peanut gallery, I’m sure they can chime in as well.
How to Choose a Freelance Writer for Freelance Writing Jobs
If your potential freelancer has an online presence you can give him a Google. This will bring up his greatest hits and show you where he was published and even what groups and organizations he belongs to. However, you can’t rely on solely a web search for accurate information. For example, many of the freelancer’s clients might be offline or private clients. The freelancer might also have valid but non-bylined experience.
Go beyond Google to learn about the freelance writer you wish to hire. Also consider not every writer chooses to have an online portfolio. Some writers only take clients via word of mouth or because the client reaches out to them. Just because a freelancer doesn’t have a price menu or big flashing advertisement on her blog, doesn’t mean you should write her off as a candidate. Her subtlety might indicate she’s more selective about who she chooses to work with.
Ask for a current copy of the freelance writer’s resume. This will list all of his past and present client and give you more valid research points than Google. You will have a list of companies to investigate and perhaps even people to call. The timeline will indicate how long this candidate has been writing, and, also, other experience relevant to your project.
Here’s the thing about references: the freelancer is not going to give you a list of unsatisfied customers so you’re going to have to use your best judgment. Every reference you check will probably turn out rosy. Glowing testimonials are fine and dandy, but don’t be afraid to ask the freelancer if she’s had any clients or projects that didn’t quite work out. The issue might not have been the freelance writer’s fault. Due diligence is always a good thing and it doesn’t hurt to check before learning the hard way this person isn’t who she says she is.
Again, not all freelancers choose to build online portfolios. Offline they might have files filled with magazine and newspaper clippings, white papers, research reports, grants or business plans. Ask qualified candidates to send scanned copies of some of these projects so you can see if his or her writing style agrees with your vision.
Non-Freelance Writing Experience
Not every freelancer is a long time freelance writer. Perhaps your potential freelancer was a staff writer who is trying to break into freelancing. You may also be contacted by people who are experts in their niches, and are good writers, but have no online experience. Their samples and resumes might be enough to tell you if this writer is for you.
Don’t Take Things at Face Value
Don’t take anything at face value. Not every freelance writer chooses to keep an online portfolio or sales page. If you’re curious why, ask. If you have any questions about experience, ask. The important thing is to not make assumptions based on a web search. Granted, a web search can be very revealing. However, many times you have to dig deeper than the obvious to learn about a writer’s true experience.
Do you hire writers? What methods do you use to find the best person for the job.
Twitter is an awesome resource to keep in touch with people you know, look for freelance writing jobs and promote yourself. Have you ever thought about whether you could condense your resume into a tweet?
The Hired Guns Twesume Contest allows participants to do just that. The contest runs until January 25 and the winner gets a personal coaching session with Top Gun Allison Hemming on his or her choice of topics, from “personal brand analysis and resume makeovers to interview strategies for landing your dream job!”
For full contest rules, check out the announcement on the Hired Guns web site. It sounds like a lot of fun. If you decide to enter, please let us know in the comments and if you feel like sharing your twesume, please do so.
A resume is an important job search tool for freelance writers. Not all prospective clients ask to see one. For those clients who do, we want to present ourselves in the best possible way, and an updated resume is a must if we want to do that.
How often should this important document be updated? Ideally, you will update your resume when you have new experience or updated skills to add to it. I’m the first person to admit that I’m not always right on top of things when it comes to my resume. I do take a look at it very few months and make changes as necessary, though.
When you take a look at your resume, do more than just add your new experience to it. Go through the whole document carefully. You may want to make changes in the way you have described your previous work experience or other parts of your resume. As you add more freelance writing work experience, you may want to shorten or change the descriptions of your previous employment experience to keep the employer’s focus on your experience with writing, editing, blogging, etc.
If you have been applying for a lot of freelance writing gigs that you feel you are a good fit for but you aren’t getting hired, it may be a sign that you need to revamp your resume. This document may be the only opportunity you get to show a potential client who you are and what you can do for them, and you need to make sure that you make the best first impression you can.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve gone over your resume, review it and make changes as needed. This step is just as important to your business as any of your other marketing efforts.
Preparing a freelance writer’s resume is a little different from writing one where your goal is to find a job. A functional resume, where you focus on your skills and achievements, is a style option that you may want to consider. Can you make the more traditional chronological style work for you? Sure you can.
The Challenge With a Chronological Format for Freelancers
The challenge (notice I didn’t say problem) with preparing a chronological resume when you are a freelancer is that you may be juggling multiple clients at once, do a few one-time-only assignments, and have some dry spells in between. If this sounds like your professional life; relax, it’s not uncommon.
You may be reluctant to list everyone you have done work for in chronological order because of the gaps in the time, or (gasp) because you only worked with the client on one project. Working freelance and having a series of assignments of different lengths is not an indication that you “can’t hold a job.” It’s the way that freelancers roll.
Listing Your Writing Experience on Your Resume
What you want to do with your resume is to tell the person reading it about your experience so that they can determine whether you would be a good fit for their project. My suggestion for listing your experience looks something like this:
Self-Employed Freelance Writer, Blogger, etc.
Provided freelance writing services to several clients [including….]
[You can name names or choose not to – your preference]
Assignments included [SEO articles, web copy, ebooks, blog posts….] on the following topics [list them here]
I have used this strategy on my resume, since it also lists the work I did before I started freelancing. The point where I started my business is listed like another employer – except the employer is me.
If you use a chronological resume, how do you set out your freelance writing experience?
We get lots of questions from our readers about resumes for freelance writers. Whether you are looking for your first freelance writing gig or you have some experience under your belt, it can be challenging to figure out exactly what to include in your resume.
Your writer’s resume will list your writing experience, and I include other work experience on mine as well. I want the person reading it to get a good idea of who I am and what skills I bring to the table when I’m applying for freelance work. I also want to make sure that I include transferable skills in my resume and cover letter when I’m looking for work.
What are transferable skills? They are ones that you can use in many jobs, and they apply to freelance writing gigs as well. Here are a few transferable skills that you will want to focus on when you are communicating with a potential client:
- Ability to Work Well Under Pressure
- Computer Skills
- Conducting Research
- Problem Solving
You will also want to point out to someone in a position to hire you that you have these desirable skills as well:
- Ability to Follow Instructions
- Attention to Detail
- Good Communication Skills
Freelance writing is more than just stringing a few words together, and you need to tell potential clients about all the skills you bring to the table. It gives them a better idea of who they will we working with when they decide to hire you.
Which transferable skills do you think are most important for freelancers?
When you are preparing your writing resume, do you include work that you have done for free? You should!
The purpose of sending a prospective client your resume is to share some information about your background, education, and work experience. All the writing you have done, whether you have been paid for it or not, is part of your experience, and you should add it to your resume. When someone is considering whether they want to work with you, they care about your experience, not whether you actually got paid.
If you had to write papers in college, then that is writing experience. Many jobs have some element of writing in them, and this is also experience that you can put on a resume. You may have been responsible for contributing to a newsletter for your church or another organization on a volunteer basis, and that counts as writing experience too.
Your resume is not a static document that you prepare once and then you’re done. (Yes, I can hear the collective groan as you read this.) Every so often, you need to review it and make changes as necessary. As you gain experience and have more information to add to the resume, you can update it to focus on your more recent work.
When I was starting out, I wrote for a couple of web sites on a volunteer basis. The experience gave me some samples to show to prospective clients. I still list them on my resume and no one has asked whether (or how much) I got paid for writing them.
Do you include paid and non-paid writing on your resume or do you list paid work only?