How to Slay Your Resumé as a Writer

By Amy Lukac
Opinion Editor

College is wrapping up.

You’re a senior exhausted from attending career expos and resume-prepping classes.

You’ve polished up your resume and brought it to a career development center in your school.

Sure, you’re probably feeling pretty confident, but does everyone expect the same thing out of potential writers?

My major is considered a “professional new media writing” major. This means that I could look for jobs in journalism, script writing, novelistic writing or even freelance writing.

There are a plethora of opportunities for writers after college graduation, but what do editors and managers look for?

What should writers be including in our resumes and cover letters to help us stand out or prevent our pretty, organized resumes from getting thrown out or deleted?

According to the Career Development Center at East Stroudsburg University, “the quality of effort you choose to invest will have a direct impact on your results.”

Assess Your Skills

Sit down and look at all of your work, whether you have clipping of your articles from your university’s newspaper, or links to any published works.

Read through your writing and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses, it doesn’t hurt to look at your graded essays as well.

Grow Your Network

Building a network of contacts is essential to your job search and career decisions.

Having a degree is most important, but the saying, “it’s all about who you know” is more than just a saying.

Having the “hook-up” at a successful magazine could help your way in tremendously. Start making friends now if you haven’t already!

Gain Experience

If you’re a senior and you’re reading this, you should already have some experience under your belt.

If not, I suggest you get on that like, yesterday. Experience is like your trophy showcase. You have to be able to polish your work and show it off to potential employers.

If your university has a newspaper, write a few articles. Publishing outside of your university is always a great idea as well.

Research Potential Employers

Do you have a dream job? Research them! For example, my dream job is working for BuzzFeed.

I’ve downloaded their app, and visited their website plenty of times. I look at the type of articles they publish and mentally take notes.

If you want to work for Rolling Stone Magazine, buy the issues and explore their glossy-paged style.

If you already know what they’re talking about in the interview you land, you’ll kill it.

Build Your Resume / Cover Letter

Obviously building a resume is the most important part of a job search. But what is more important, the resume or the cover letter?

“I don’t spend a lot of time looking at resumes — I’m much more likely to look at a cover letter or someone’s work. So a creative resume probably isn’t a plus,” said Ben Smith, Editor and Chief at BuzzFeed.

According to Bill Broun, a successful writer as well as a professor at East Stroudsburg University and the university’s newspaper advisor, “cover letters – absolutely one page or less unless for an academic job — should always tell a story. The cover letter dramatizes, the resume lists.”

So, don’t spend too much time decorating your resume if it will only be looked at for a fraction of a second.

This is how Smith goes through resumes and cover letters, so if you want a job with BuzzFeed, polish that cover letter!

Content Is Key

While writing your resume and cover letter, make sure you’re thorough. Bill Broun told me, “being a solid writer is critical, but you need to know your subject matter and be able to discuss, in depth, whatever it is you’re planning to write about. A good writer who knows a ton about soccer will get a job at ESPN before a magically wonderful writer who knows nothing about an actual sport. For this reason, it’s good to have a broad range of skills and talents that’s show versatility — foreign languages, tech skills, musical talent, dance chops, knowledge of calculus. Businesses are looking for multi-skilled people who are flexible and able to move energetically into a range of roles.”

Prepare for the Interview

Who’s afraid of the big bad interview? Interviews are stressful and nerve-wracking, but you only get one shot (most of the time).

Killing the interview is important. Simply, be yourself, don’t appear too nervous, and show your confident side.

Play Demi Lovato’s Confident right before you go in if it helps. Also, always bring a pen. If your potential employer needs your to write something down, do not ask for a pen. It’s all about preparation.

Getting turned down is something that might happen, but you can’t let yourself give up. Suzette Minetti, a Digital Sales Planner at WWD, and former InStyle employee shared her experience with me.

“My overall experience with interviews has varied from job to job. I would say my first job at Instyle (9 months after graduation), was one that will forever be ingrained in my memory. I had been on 4 previous interviews with all different magazines before InStyle and heard ‘no,’ every single time. I was so down on myself and ready to call it quits until I came across this event on LinkedIn hosted by called ‘How to Make It in the Fashion Industry.’

There were several guest speakers. I already knew I wanted to work for a magazine having interned at Cosmopolitan a few years prior—so needless to say; I stuck around for the magazine segment of the conference. I heard various interview tips.

Overall, they couldn’t stress enough how important it is to be yourself and not to lie just to tell them what they want to hear because chances are if they like you for who you are in that setting; always remember they can ‘hire character and train skill.’ It’s all about confidence and knowing what you want from it. Always do your research on the brand and the people and show up with your game face on.”

Following these tips and listening to the advice within should help you stress less about the job-searching season.

“Your biggest weapon as a writer is your writing, so have a sample prepared that’s in the tone that you want to be hired to write! The first thing you write likely won’t get made but it will serve as your most important asset to be authentic to your voice and the genre of writing you want to do,” said Joni Lefkowitz, writer of ABC Family’s Chasing Life.

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