As a freelance writer and businessman working within the copywriting sector, toiling through CVs and writing samples takes up a fairly substantial part of my working day. While I wont claim to be an expert, Ive do find it easy to differentiate a good CV from a bad CV.
If youre still hunting around for paid freelance writing work, dont make these mistakes.
Strange Layout and Presentation
We all judge books by their cover to a certain extent, thats why when people say “presentation is everything” theyre speaking a cold, hard truth. I tend to think that writers who cant be bothered to present their work and experience clearly – any writer worth their salt knows that white space is a big part of the process – will probably have bad habits. In any sector, eye-catching fonts, colour and jazzy layouts are a no go. And unless youre an actor, you really dont need a headshot.
Excessively Long “About” Section
If I hire you as a writer I dont need a life story. A paragraph about your personal goals, strengths and passions will suffice. Keep it fresh. Everyone likes to travel and considers themselves to be a “good people person.” On the other end of the spectrum, dont forget the About section altogether as it provides a great opportunity to sell yourself.
Lack of Online Presence
A blog is extremely important in todays digital age as it will demonstrate commitment and passion for the craft. Additionally, list your social networks. Even if youve only got ten Facebook and Twitter followers, it will show that you take marketing seriously.
Believe it or not, but I read plenty of CVs that are riddled with spelling mistakes. Of course, when you write for a living subtle errors will inevitably creep through, thats only natural. However, a CV is supposed to be the most important part of the application process; therefore, it should highlight your very best work.
SEO Writing Experience
Theres absolutely nothing wrong with SEO writing. My first paid gigs were from content mills. While Im not ashamed to admit this, Im not exactly going to wear it like a badge of honour. If you started in SEO copywriting, avoid words and phrases that are more synonymous with marketers than writers: content (whats wrong with article?), native English (this means absolutely nothing), keyword density (Ill usually stop reading here).
This is undoubtedly the most important part of a writers CV. To be perfectly honest, the rest is just a way to get the reader to want to read the samples. While you should attach a few articles, screenplay segments, short stories, etc., to your CV as a separate file, you should also include a few loglines within the CV itself.
CV writing isnt easy. Every employer is searching for something different and has their own personal preference. However, if youre a writer looking for your next gig, please take the aforementioned advice into consideration. Fixing just one of these problems might just lead to your next paycheck.
Written by Adam Manuel.