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How to Show Your Writing Chops on a Résumé

Updated on June 2, 2022Professionals
How to Show Your Writing Chops on a Resume image

If you’re a good writer, never miss a chance to show off your writing skills. Think of your résumé as an opportunity to tell the story of your candidacy. Why are you the right person for the job? How did you develop your skills? Why will you benefit the company? Let’s talk about how you can reflect your writing skills on your résumé and how these talents can land you your dream job.

Be Effective

The best writers know how to get their point across succinctly. When you list your experience, include a few brief statements describing what you accomplished in each position. Choose powerful action verbs rather than boring ones such as taught, utilized, or sold. Don’t use generic adjectives. Instead, use specific vocabulary to describe your strengths.

Be Accurate

The worst thing you can do is overlook an error. Some hiring managers, especially in the writing industry, immediately discard résumés that contain misspellings or grammar mistakes. Proofread your résumé several times. Then, ask a friend or colleague to look it over for you. Some people find it easier to see flaws if they review a printed copy of their résumé rather than look at it on their computer screen.

Consider Your Audience

Just like when you write an article, you need to consider who will be reading your résumé. If the reviewer won’t be an industry insider, avoid jargon and use terms that anyone can understand. If you know that the chief of the department in which you want to work will read it, use terms that show you know how to do the job.

Do a Peer Review

You might enjoy searching for résumés in your field. Print out a few of the best and then compare them with yours. If you were a recruiter, which résumé would stand out to you? Which candidate’s word choices reflect intelligence and fluency? If your résumé can’t withstand the scrutiny, make adjustments until it’s the best of the best.

Be Logical

The layout of your résumé will directly influence how hiring managers perceive your writing skills. If the arrangement is thoughtless or confusing, why would a recruiter imagine that your writing would be any different? Many applicants automatically assume that a chronological format is the best way to go, but you’ll need to do a bit of research to see whether this is the best format for the type of work you do.

Replace the Objective Statement with a Targeted Summary

Many websites about résumé writing encourage applicants to omit an objective statement. After all, it’s evident from your experience that you’re a content writer, sales writer, editor, etc. Obviously, you are looking for a position like the one that’s being offered. Therefore, it’s not necessary to spell out the obvious. A better use of the space below your name and contact information is a summary of your strongest qualifications for the open position. But keep it brief because you need the rest of the space for your education, certifications, and experience. You should be able to accomplish this aim in no more than three bullet points or a three-line paragraph.

Write About What’s Related

What have you done besides writing? While you may be proud of your years spent in nursing, it really only belongs on your résumé if you want to be a medical writer. Freelance writers must be especially careful. Many of them have worked on everything from screenplays to children’s nursery rhymes. Focus on experience that is most relevant to each job announcement. Otherwise, you might seem like the kind of candidate who applies for everything, even positions in which you have no real aptitude or interest. On the other hand, some abilities are clearly a plus for almost any writing job. Feel free to enumerate your mastery of word processing programs, foreign languages, or typing.

Send a Thank You Note

A thank you note isn’t a part of the résumé, but it should be a part of the process. Why? First of all, it’s simply a nice thing to do. Secondly, you can express your thanks and display your personal writing style at the same time. Talk about killing two birds with one stone! Remember, too, that a thank you note can be sent by email. You actually might be more likely to get a response if human resources has your email at their fingertips. Also, ensure that your thank you note has a personal touch. No one likes a canned message!

Include an Attachment

When sending your résumé by email or publishing it on a website, it’s easy to upload samples of your best writing. If you have room on your résumé, you can make a list of published writing. Published work is always the best option, but newbies might feature unpublished work if that’s all they have. Make sure to organize your works into genres to make it easy to see what type of writing they feature. Place either the most recently published or the most relevant pieces at the beginning of the list. If you are including website hyperlinks, make sure they work before you send the email! Show that you understand copyright law by including only clips of works that you own or have permission to use.

A résumé isn’t going to take the place of a short story or a newspaper article, but it can give potential clients a good idea of your writing style. Be sure that your résumé reflects your accuracy, organizational skills, and effectiveness with your choice of words and formatting. Remember the questions asked at the onset? Why are you the right person for the job? How did you develop your skills? Why will you benefit the company? If you allow your résumé to tell your story, you may just get the happy ending that you deserve!

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