So you are a writer. When you mention this to others, they usually either picture you unemployed, or they think you’re working on your novel. But when it comes to making money from writing, novels are usually only a small part of the picture.
Usually selling non-fiction articles, as well as blog posts, is far more lucrative fo writers. So there’s a lot of query-writing, pitching to magazines and well, until you have built an impressive portfolio, applying to job ads.
Appling to writing job ads is mostly not any different from applying to any other job, whatever the industry. I should know; my non-writing experience includes 3 internships (one PR firm, one advertising firm & Coca Cola), 1 office job (consultancy) and a freelance translation gig.
I survived many interviews, applications and CV-writing. I also observed my friends’ job-hunting processes and listened to their (horror) stories. Since we all have friends and acquaintances with different degrees and qualifications, it becomes very easy to study the job-hunting process on a multi-industrial or even a universal basis. Now that I’m writing for a living, things aren’t as different as some mighjt think:
Similarities – Job Hunting for Writers and Non-Writers
- The job hunter selects the job-posting websites that appeals to him most. Sites like Monster or Linkedin are great for career management. Not to mention, each country has its own sites where job ads are posted. It is no different with the writing industry.
- Many job posters reply very late. When you are not hired, most of the time the editors/business owners don’t take the time to contact you to say you weren’t hired.
One of my friends had an interview at this big toy manufacturing company. The next day, he was contacted through a very sincere and personalized e-mail that they were unable to hire him. He was over the moon. Yes, he didn’t get the job but it was very refreshing that interviewers respected his time and goals.
- Even when you are hired, there is a chance they returned your email weeks, if not months, later. By the time they do, you are probably wrapped up in other projects or there is a good chance you don’t even remember you applied to that specific ad. It happened to me with writing jobs, also jobs in advertising jobs, business, marketing and public relations.
- They offer a lot less than they ask for. All employers want the perfect employee. While this makes sense at a certain level, it is fairly unfair and I’ll dare say unprofessional when the employer himself couldn’t be further from perfect.
Think about it. Everyone wants the perfect candidate: Best schools, years of experience, outstanding portfolio…. Yet they rarely offer the perfect working hours, paycheck or the working environment. How many times did you come across very selective and highly demanding writing job requirements only to find out they are offering only $10 per article?
- Your happiness is the least of their concerns. Unfortunately this is most often the case. You live to make your boss/supervisor/manager/editor happy. It seems like people often forget that happy employees are more productive and successful.
- You usually need to wait for at the end of the payment period to see if they really pay. No matter how we much we ask around and google the company, we can’t always be sure the payment will appear in our bank accounts. Sometimes the firm is too small or new for us to acquire their “credentials” and reputations. And sometimes we just want or need the job so badly that we take our chances.
- Some ads have requirements that are totally hypocritical or plain irrational, like wanting writers only from certain countries (with the few exceptions. A Chicago lifestyle writer has to be from Chicago. We have no objections to that). Some expect you to give you sample of work when they haven’t even offered the pay rate and/or the name of the company. Or some expect you to be a blogger with a blog –ranked 3 or 4 on Google and offering you 10/15$ a piece. If I have that page rank, I won’t bother with that pay rate.
Talking about other industries, I used to work at an education consultancy firm where was paid about $900/month and was expected to work on Saturdays as well.
But my favorite pet peeve is when I was one time interviewed by a public relations agency. The woman wanted me to work for 3 months for free, as a trial period. I said no.
- You need a customized CV. Not all of your experiences or hoobies are relevant to any give job. You need to higlight different areas. Applying to Coca-Cola may require a different resume than applying to Nike. The same goes for writing.
How familiar has these sounded to you? You have probably been there, done that. Job-hunting is rarely fun for anyone, although there have been some exceptions. What’s your industry? What are your experiences?