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Applying for Writing Jobs – My Experience

I should probably have covered this before interview prep, but what’s done is done. So, here are a few things I do while applying for writing jobs.

For the last few months, I have been applying for 4-5 jobs every day, on an average. I take a break over weekends, as someone once told me that emails received over the weekends have a greater chance of getting lost in the recruiters’ mailbox.

I had mentioned in a previous post that I mostly use LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter for submitting job applications, as they have the option of easy/1-click apply, which I find quite useful. However, you have to make sure that your profile is up-to-date and thorough so that you can make the most of this option. It is a good idea to even ask your potential references to leave recommendations or reviews of your work (both platforms have this option), as that makes your application way more effective.

Tips for Filling Out Job Applications

  1. Resume – Pay attention to your resume. It is like your advertisement. Whether you get the chance to show them your potential in an interview or not, depends on this, to a certain extent. My resume includes these sections, in particular- A brief summary, highlights/achievements, strengths, relevant experience, education. The achievements should be relevant and, if possible, measurable. The strengths should include soft skills, as most recruiters in the interviews I sat for recently emphasized on this aspect. The resume should not be too long – mine is 2 pages long. The experience included should be relevant to the job – I usually take off some if they are not relevant to the job posting. I also have a bullet list of specific tasks performed in a particular role. Make sure the list is consistent – so, if one point starts with “Wrote copy…”, the next should say “Performed proofreading…” not “Performing proofreading…”
  2. Customization – I went to a career counselling service when I first started applying for jobs in Toronto. They told me that a lot of times, resumes go through software to help recruiters save time and choose applicants with experience matching the requirements of the job. So, every time I apply for a job, I change the wording on my resume to match the job descriptions. Please note that I do not cheat or add things I haven’t done before. I just use synonyms or different explanations for the same thing to make it closer to the posting.

    These days, I do not have a lot of time to do that (#mommyoftwo), so I make sure I apply to similar jobs (mostly copywriting jobs in Toronto), so I don’t have to spend a lot of time working on the resume.
  3. Creativity – Have an interesting “About me” prepared. For writing jobs, creativity is more important than anything else. So, I usually attach the poem I have written about my writing journey in that section. Some recruiters have told me that that’s what made my application stand out for them, and the reason why I got called for the interview.
  4. Online Writing Portfolio – A link to an online portfolio is something that a lot of recruiters have asked me for, at the first stage of the application process. You can create one for free using WordPress.
  5. Document for Common Questions – Sometimes, job postings require you to fill out a detailed application form. They usually need summary of experience, education, and other things included in your resume. They also usually have “a message for the recruiter.” I have all these listed on a Word document, so that I can just copy and paste it all. I started doing this recently, after I did something really silly.
    I was applying for a job after a rather long, exhausting day (Bad Idea!). So, I filled out all the sections, attached resume and cover letter. When I reached “message for the recruiter”, my mind was blank. I couldn’t think of anything to write. So, I just said, “Hello! Please hire me. Thanks.”

    It is embarrassing to even think about this, so I’ll end the subject here. So, since then, I have written a short message listing why I would make a good match for any copywriting job along with a generic closing line. I just copy and paste it if I face this question while filling out an application now.
  6. Proofreading – This step is so important for writing jobs. Grammatical errors, inconsistencies in your resume can instantly create the wrong impression, right, if proofreading is going to be an important part of your job. So proofread the resume and cover letter, or have someone else do it for you.
  7. Cover Letter – I also have a cover letter – complete, concise, clear and clean – that I send with every application.

Recently, I have also started making a list of all jobs I apply to, as I don’t want to keep applying for the same jobs over and over again. When I receive notice they have moved on to other candidates, I just cross it out, to keep a record of it.

With all the competition out there, I think it is imperative for us to be meticulous, especially at the first stage of the application process.

Let me know if you find these tips helpful, or if you feel like they are missing something. If you need resume writing or proofreading services, send me a message to discuss the assignment. If you’re looking for a job, good luck! Hope you find the perfect match soon.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

How I Prepare For an Interview

Before I begin, let me tell you that I have received three calls for interview since I created my online writing portfolio using WordPress. That being said, the competition is fierce. Two of the interviewers told me that they received hundreds of applications for the position, out of which around 20 were called for interviews and out of those 20, they would select one candidate to fill the position.

So, I feel happy that despite a five-year gap on my resume, I made it to the interview stage, but I can never be too confident I would get the job. Still, you have to give your best to every opportunity you get, right? Here are a few things I do to prepare for an interview.

Personal Prep

My first task on the night before an interview is to put my kids to bed and clean my toddler’s artwork in crayon off at least one wall. This wall would make my background since most interviews are virtual these days. Since crayon is hard to get off, there are always a few spots left. I cover those up with scrolls from my Etsy shop. I always choose the brown or black and white ones, because I don’t want my background to be too colourful and distracting. If you don’t like anything on my Etsy shop (aren’t my marketing skills smooth? *wink wink), just type a quote or phrase on MS Word with a thin border, take a black and white print on an A4 sheet and tape that to the wall – if you are in a similar situation. It’s funny how I just presumed everyone has crayon-stained walls, isn’t it?

Next morning, right before the interview, I clean up my eyebrows – Toronto has been in lockdown way too long, so don’t blame me. I apply foundation to the dark circles around my eyes – #mommyoftwo! And I just work on my overall presentation. It is so important for me to dress up for virtual interviews, as one it gives me confidence and two – well, it just gives me confidence. So, I wear formals, apply light makeup, tidy up my hair, just little stuff like that. Just before my last interview, I even wore a mask! I’m so used to wearing it every time I dress up – it was hilarious. Thankfully, I remembered to remove it before the meeting started.

Professional Prep

Professionally, there are lots of things that I do, to prepare for an interview.

  1. I always check the meeting link before the meeting. Check and install any app that you need for the interview beforehand. This will avoid last-minute panic and delays.
  2. I always read the job description and jot down any examples from my previous experience that would make me succeed in the role that I have applied for. Since I apply to so many jobs every day, it also helps me recall which one I’m interviewing for and answer questions accordingly.
  3. I prepare a brief “about me” highlighting all relevant skills and experiences in under two minutes. I even practise it in front of the mirror a few times.
  4. I always research the company, visit their website, social media profiles, etc. This gives me an idea about what the company culture and values are, and gauge my own expectations with respect to those. I was recently called for an interview for a digital marketing role. I researched current trends and practices on Google and went through the company website, in detail. I found certain areas of improvement and wrote them down. On the morning of the interview, I received an email that they already found the perfect match and were cancelling the interview. I was quite disappointed, but I just emailed them and thanked them for letting me know. I wished the hired candidate luck and gave them the suggestions I had written down about their website as bullet points. They emailed me that evening saying they would like to schedule that interview again to listen to what I had to say. They had already hired someone, so obviously I wasn’t even hoping to get the job anymore, but it was nice to see that my point of view meant something and created an impression.
  5. I go through my resume thoroughly. Sometimes, I forget roles that I filled long back, where I may have developed skills necessary for this particular role. So, this is an important step for me as it is a kind of a revision of my experience.
  6. All the interviews that I have been in, these last few weeks, have posited these questions to me – Why do you want to work in our organization?
    What are your expectations from this role?
    What is your process like?
    I had never thought about these questions to be honest. I was just looking for a job that matched my skill set and experience. I never thought about why I want to join that particular company or what I expected to get from the role, other than more experience and a steady pay. So, research about the role and company come in handy when I am trying to answer these questions. It gives me a fair idea of what is out there and what my expectations are, and if the two can go hand in hand.
  7. After an interview, I always thank the interviewer via email. I keep the message short and sweet and if they need me to complete a task or an exercise (most writing roles require that), I submit it promptly, before the end of day, if possible. With my mommy brain at work, all the time, I don’t want to let it slip out of my mind and miss deadlines (unfortunately, that has happened, too).

If you are applying for copywriting jobs, there are a lot of free courses out there that can help you stay up to date with current trends and best practices and show employers you’re proactive in upgrading your skills and knowledge.

How do you prepare for an interview? Let me know through comments or my contact page. Good luck!

©️ Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

My Online Writing Portfolio – Ta Da

So, I created my online writing portfolio on my free WordPress website. Now, what do I add to it.

The Home Page

On the Home page, I added a brief writing bio with keywords related to the kinds of writing I have done. This is what it looks like.

The Home Page

I kept it simple. I just included the highlights of my writing experience and my specialties. I spent a lot of time thinking about whether I should include a photo or not. In the end, I decided to create a free, simple logo on Canva instead, with a tagline. I don’t know if it is standard practice or not. I don’t even know if this is desirable for attracting the employer’s attention. I just felt more comfortable with it, and I felt it was another way to show my creativity, so I did it this way. That being said, I have seen a lot of writers who have included their photo as part of their brand building.

I also kept my Contact page hidden. Although I did it by accident – I didn’t realize I needed to customize my menu after adding a page – I chose to keep it this way as it seemed to keep the focus on my portfolio. That is also the reason why I did not add any stock images to this website. I wanted my words to be the centre of attention. Now, let’s move on to the portfolio.

Writing Examples
I have been writing since the age of five, and I’m a published author of works across forms and styles. While I found it easy to include examples of poetry, articles, research papers, and other forms of creative and academic writing – with publication details – I didn’t feel so confident about linking website copy that I wrote for customers, especially since I wrote it as part of an agency, and most websites have undergone revisions since I wrote them. Moreover, most of these websites had “All rights reserved” at the bottom of the page, so I was apprehensive about including those, as well. 

Writing Samples
Now, since the job was for a copywriting role, I did not want to leave out my website content in my portfolio. So, this is what I did. I just wrote the practices I follow while writing different pages of a multi-page website, and created sample content for imaginary businesses instead. I specifically chose the industry that the company I’m interested in belongs to, and drafted a page for them. I haven’t heard back from them, so I don’t know if it will work, but it seemed better than nothing, right? I’ll let you know if and when I hear from them, so stay tuned.

As you can see, for the website pages, I chose to create samples rather than choose existing examples. I included best practices as I could think of them and created a paragraph based on those, using industry-specific highlights. Luckily, I had just created this website, too, so I picked some of the content from my own website.

Website/Portfolio
However, I did not use my own website as my portfolio as I wanted to keep the two separate. If you think it is appropriate and works for you, you can just create one website for your blogs and your portfolio, too.

As I said in an earlier post, this is the first time I have created a writing portfolio online, so if you feel like I have left something out or if you feel like I could have done something differently, please feel free to reach out. Also, if you would need a writer for your upcoming project, contact me and we can discuss the details. Browse through the rest of my website for digital prints or for free downloads.

See you later!

©️ Pebble in the Ocean 2021

Blog

How I Used WordPress to Create an Online Writing Portfolio

So, I have been applying for a lot of copywriting jobs lately, and everywhere they asked me for a link to a portfolio, which I never bothered to make. Last week, I came across a job I was really excited about, so when they asked me for a portfolio, I just took the leap.

The process of creating a website for portfolio is pretty simple, and I really don’t know why I kept putting it off.

First, login or sign up at wordpress.com.

After choosing to create a website, you have to choose a name for your website. Based on that name, you will get domain name choices, like these:

I chose the free one, because I just wanted some space online to save my writing samples and examples, whose link I can share with employers. Then, I was asked to select a plan. I again chose the free one.

After that, I chose a theme. I wanted a basic layout, nothing too fancy, so I chose the simplest one I could find and just changed the content to add text and remove images.

I just picked a font pairing and then, I was directed to the page which I could customize and launch my site.

It looked something like this.

Once I was done, I just pressed the launch button and my portfolio was good to go.

Then, I just added a Portfolio page and a hidden Contact page (I provided a link for it at the Home page), but I wanted all the attention to be on my portfolio. I made my portfolio page the page to which posts will be added and I just kept adding the examples or samples of the different kinds of content as new posts.

Every time you add a new page, you have to go to Customize under Design section of the sidebar, and change the menu to include the new page. Until I did this, I was not able to see my page on the live website, even in the menu. This is how I kept my contact page hidden, too. I did not customize my menu to include it.

I will share my portfolio in another post. Please feel free to contact me if you need any more information about this, or if you feel like I have missed something out.

Need writing, editing or proofreading services? Connect with me to discuss your project.

Check out my posters on writing, available as free downloads on this website.

©️ Pebble in the Ocean 2021