Welcome to day 11 of my 12 Days of Freelance Writing series. You can view the whole series here.
Today we are tackling some common mistakes that freelance writers make when creating their resume and online profiles. A solid resume or profile is key to gaining client trust and scoring more gigs.
1. Adding Irrelevant Experience
My first LinkedIn profile as a freelancer included my experience as a barista when I was in college. I had heard the bad advice that employers wanted to see any and every work experience you had. This nugget on my profile made me look unprofessional and gave employers a good guess at my age (i.e. young and fresh out of college).
When should you connect your in-person job experience with your writing experience? You should include it if it establishes you as a professional or proves your expertise in your writing niche. For example, health writers should definitely include their nursing or hospital administrative experience in their resume.
2. Forgetting to Proofread
Let me start this section off with an embarrassing story of myself. I hired out my resume writing many years ago. While the lady did an excellent job, she left Word doc notes on the side. I thought I turned them off and got rid of them. Nope.
I don’t even know how many copies of that resume I sent out, but one hiring manager was nice enough to let me know the notes were still showing. I definitely did not get that job.
All that to say, proofread and make sure your resume looks the way you want it to before you send it out. Send it to a trusted friend who will let you know of these issues before they become an embarrassing moment like mine.
3. Not Expanding Your Job Description Enough
Talking about your writing experience can seem straightforward and boring. What work did you do for X publication? I wrote articles. What work did you do for Y publication? I wrote more articles. You get where I’m going.
While it might seem like all you do as a writer is write, you do more than that. It is important to unpack your role for each company/publication because you aren’t just randomly throwing words on a computer screen. Here are some other job descriptions you can include if they apply to your writing role:
- Used data to research which topics would perform well for publication/company
- Implemented best SEO practices to increase search results and optimize leads
- Crafted social media prompts to increase engagement
- # of articles were syndicated on X, Y, Z publications
- Any stats you can include – i.e. My article “How to Clean the Marie Kondo Way” had 1.5M views in the first week/500 shares on (company name)’s Twitter feed
4. Puffing Up Your Experience
As you expand on your job descriptions, be careful of making yourself look like more of an expert than you really are. It can be easy to get carried away with adjectives. It is important to be able to back up your claim. For example, use the word “expert” if you have over eight years of experience. Don’t oversell yourself in SEO marketing if you have only done concentrated work for one gig.
Make yourself look good, but make sure it can all be backed up with proof. The last thing you want to do is be stuck on the phone explaining how ROI your keywords and data research can deliver when you aren’t quite sure what that is.
5. Not Polishing Your Life Outside the Resume
Congrats! Your resume caught the interest of the editor or content manager. Many times, the natural next step is to Google your name. What will they find?
Now is the time to Google your name first and remedy any potential issues. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are high-ranking sites, which means they will pop up on the first page before your published clips do. Here’s what you don’t want someone to find:
- Any form of cyberbullying. Do some of your comments on social media pages or popular sites make you seem like a troll rather than a decent human being? Get rid of them.
- An unprofessional lifestyle. You are entitled to do what you want on the weekends, but posted photos of you drunk, high, or partying just give off the wrong message.
- Strong world views. Again, you are entitled to think what you want, but bashing the president or making racial or sexist comments is just not going to sit well with a company or publication that has to worry about their image. There is a way to respectfully disagree with leaders without looking unprofessional.
A freelance writing resume is not always necessary for landing writing jobs, but if it is, make sure you avoid these mistakes. The same applies with your LinkedIn profile. Still not sure if you need a freelance writer’s resume? I discuss that in my post: Do You Need a Writer’s Resume?
Increase your writing productivity with my Productivity Planner for Freelance Writers.