Creating an Effective Resume and Cover Letter
As a freelancer, you’re in business for yourself, and a resume and cover letter are the tools you’ll use to land clients and assignments. One of your first tasks should be creating a resume highlighting your skills and accomplishments as a writer. It’s also helpful to write a base cover letter that you can adapt for each potential gig. Think of your resume and cover letter as marketing tools: you want to paint yourself in the best possible light.
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What Style of Resume Should You Use?
Typically, resumes are either chronological or functional. A combination of the two styles can also be effective. Deciding which kind of resume to use depends on the type of work you’re seeking. A chronological resume is date-driven, with your most recent work appearing first. A functional resume highlights your skills and abilities and often leaves off the dates. If you don’t have a great deal of experience as a writer, a functional resume can direct attention to your qualifications instead of your work history.
Regardless of the type of resume you choose, you’ll want to stick to one page. Use bullet points and plenty of white space to make your resume easy to read. When possible, tailor your resume to the job listing to highlight how your background fits the posted job description. Proofread carefully, and recruit someone to give you feedback.
Crafting a Targeted Cover Letter
Your resume is a vital snapshot of your experience, skills, and education, but your cover letter is where you can make a personal connection with a potential client or employer. The cover letter is where you can add details and background that don’t fit on your resume but which are relevant to the position. You should change your cover letter each time you reach out on a gig, and it should be reflective of the job posting. It’s a great idea to write a base letter that you can edit for each job. Be sure to proofread carefully! Nothing is worse than hitting “send” and then spotting a typo.
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Include Links to Your Portfolio or Online Clips
Most writing jobs will ask for samples of your work. Setting up an online portfolio is one of the easiest ways to show an editor the range and quality of your work. If you have writing clips that are directly relevant to a job, cite those in your cover letter with the URLs. If you don’t have published work, don’t let that slow you down—you can still write sample pieces to show you’ve got the writing skills they’re looking for.
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