As writers, we often need to promote ourselves with a resume. Resumes may be helpful or even required when submitting a sample packet for work-for-hire projects, or maybe even as part of a regular magazine or book proposal submission. It’s always advantageous to have one on hand just in case you need to send it somewhere quickly. I actually recommend having 3-4 different versions of your resume ready to shoot off to a publisher, depending on the type of experience they are looking for.
Your resume will, obviously, look quite different whether you’re a beginning writer or an experienced writer. Either way, it shouldn’t look like other non-writing resumes you’ve possibly written before.
Following are some general tips to keep in mind when developing a writing resume:
1. It’s best to exclude all past non-writing background, unless your experience includes specific information relevant to the topic you’re writing about. Publishers are generally not interested in your work as a restaurant server or even your banking background. However, if you’re hoping to land an assignment writing about the banking industry, then by all means list your banking experience.
2. Functional resumes often work better for writers than chronological ones. In a functional resume, jobs are grouped by type, or function, as opposed to date, as with a chronological resume. The advantage is that you don’t have to account for every single year of work experience, and it’s easier for the reader to quickly see where the bulk of your experience lies. For instance, one functional group may be “Editing Experience.” Others may be “Fictional Work” or “Curriculum Developed.”
3. If you’re a beginning writer, be sure to include virtually every writing credit you have. Keep in mind that writing credits (or credentials) are different than writing experience. Credits implies publication–paid or unpaid–while experience could include writing in your journal. Go ahead and list credits such as writing for your church bulletin or a community newspaper. You can also include any writing you may’ve done as part of a corporate job, or even writing you do for your own or for someone else’s blog.
4. If you’re an advanced writer with several publishing credits to your name, you may need to be selective about which ones you include on your resume. This is where having multiples resumes comes in handy. You can tweak each one to a particular genre of writing or subject, depending on the publisher you’re sending it to, simply by eliminating or adding various writing credits. Be sure to highlight those that are most relevant by putting them toward the top of your resume and also mentioning them in your opening summary section and cover letter.
5. Aside from writing credits, discuss any jobs you’ve held that included the need for writing or editing skills, working against tight deadlines, or that required extensive self-discipline or time management skills. If these positions were not in the field of writing, be sure to make the connection as to how these skills have prepared you to work with an editor and produce a high-quality product on time.
Next week, we’ll be looking at the various components of a writing resume and how to effectively format your resume.