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How To Apply For a Writing Job You Really Want

I’ve received about 150 applications for a couple of writing positions I’m hoping to quickly fill. Reviewing so many resumes at once does give you some perspective into what applicant strategies seem more effective than others — albeit based only on the responses I’m having to the applications I’m reviewing.

Here are a few of my observations and thoughts:

  • Don’t make it too obvious your cover letter is a form letter. If you are going to use a standard cover letter where you describe why you are uniquely qualified for my specific position, take the trouble to ensure that it is all in the same font, in the same point size. While I won’t write you off for using a form letter (if you’re applying for multiple jobs it is probably a necessity), but making it unnecessarily obvious just shows a lack of attention to detail.
  • If I ask for optional writing samples, provide them. Sure, if your resume impresses me I will go ahead and ask you to send them. But you’re making it harder on me. And I should point out that when someone does include writing samples I look at them before I look at the resume. During my recent review there are honestly several resumes I wouldn’t have bothered to follow up on if I hadn’t had a chance to see their writing.
  • If part of your portfolio is a website or blog, make sure it looks good. Even if your writing is fine, if your web site looks like something out of 2002 (with 2002 sensibilities) it will not help your candidacy.
  • Don’t make it hard for me to find your articles. I love web portfolios, but if I’m hiring for a particular type of work, don’t make me have to search for it. Your best bet is to send me links to the pages that you think capture your ability to perform the work I am (potentially) hiring you to do.
  • Have a meaningful resume objective or don’t have one at all. “To achieve a position with your company” is not a career objective I will respond positively to. Bare in mind that an objective is not required.

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