What comes to mind when you think of a resume?
Working with recruiters, submitting job applications, going on nervous interviews?
Not exactly the most pleasant images in the world.
I have good news though: As a freelance writer, resumes don’t play quite as big of a role in landing work as they do for the full-time, 9-5 crowd.
But that doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore your resume.
Some of the most lucrative freelance gigs come from positions filled in a typical manner: Through job postings, interviews, and yes, resumes.
It’s true that a portfolio does a better job of showing off your actual skills as a freelance writer. After all, you’re getting paid to deliver a product – what better way to show off that product than a gallery of your samples?
Well, people are creatures of habit.
Hiring managers might approach it the same way they would for a full-time role.
It’s what they’ve always done.
Most of the time, your portfolio, case studies, and testimonials from previous clients will be more important than your resume.
But some employers – even hip, “modern” marketing agencies – want you to have a resume.
There’s no getting around it.
The good news is, having to send in a resume is another opportunity to show a prospective client how great of a fit you would be for an opening.
Everyone has a slightly different idea of what makes a good resume.
Just keep in mind, you’re a writer: The goal of your resume isn’t to show a potential client how great you are at coordinating colors or choosing border patterns on Word.
When in doubt, err on the side of plain, clear, and simple.
To sum up the way your resume should look, I like to use an analogy from the fashion world.
Experts in the field agree: Whether attending a social party or a workplace event, it’s best to be slightly better dressed than other guests – around 25%, to be exact.
You want to look nice, without being ostentatious.
The same principle applies to your resume.
You want your resume to be cleaner, more comprehensive, and better structured than other writers looking for the same gig.
But you don’t want your resume to be so wildly different or difficult to comprehend that it separates you from competitors in a bad way.
In other words, your resume shouldn’t be the guy who wears shorts and flip-flops to a business conference where most guests are wearing suits.
It should be the guy who has on one of the best-looking suits in the room.
How do you separate your resume from others in the pile? A few general tips:
The tips above are valuable, but they can be heeded by anyone submitting a resume. As a freelance writer, make sure you go above and beyond by considering the following:
As I mentioned in the intro, resumes aren’t quite as important when you’re not trying to get a 40-hours-a-week, full-time gig.
So what is important? I suggest focusing on two key areas:
1. Your previous track record – Always include a portfolio to go along with your resume. If one of your pieces blows away the hiring manager, what’s in your resume won’t matter much at all.
Additionally, remember that numbers don’t lie. If you’ve recently worked on a campaign with great results, make sure to feature it alongside your resume – even if you mention it in the resume itself. Consider writing up some case studies about previous campaigns that have gone really well, if you have the material.
2. Your communication – Remember, the recruiter or hiring manager is likely looking at several candidates for the gig or project.
One of the best ways to stand out as a freelance writer is the way you communicate.
Since this communication will primarily be through e-mail, don’t be afraid to take risks – throw in a joke or a bit of wit, if you can think of something relevant and appropriate. Use the subject line to make an outrageous statement.
Above all, communicate confidence in everything you do and say. Act as if this project, gig, or role was custom-made specifically for you – even if you don’t feel that way.
Leave out qualifying statements like “I think,” or “I could be.”
Go confidently to the job opening, or don’t go at all.
With a well-crafted resume, crisp communication skills, and plenty of confidence, you’ll significantly raise your chances of landing that dream gig or project.
Here’s a resume sample to help inspire you – mine!
Other than a few formatting tweaks, I intentionally left it the way I submitted it for the last position I was interested in, a content management role at a Fortune 500 company headquartered here in my home market of Washington, D.C.
This company was specifically interested in candidates with volunteer experience. And even though I work on projects ranging from SEO to editing to paid advertising, I highlighted my experience as a writer and manager, since the role was an even mix of writing and project management. Hope this helps you with your own freelance resume.
Originally published by Raj Chander.