Writer’s block comes to all of us at some point, but there are no worse times for it to strike than when you come to write your first CV.
It’s the catch 22 of starting a career — you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. Which is why, when you write your online copywriting resume for the first time, you need to think outside the box.
Put Your Transferable Skills To Good Use
Established copywriters may have the edge when it comes to on-the-job experience, but any experience is valuable when it comes to finding a job. What I’m talking about here is transferable skills.
The key here not just to list your skills, but also to demonstrate how you have used them in a professional setting. Here, I’ll show you how to work out what those skills are, and how to apply them to your online copywriting job hunt.
Step 1: Figure Out What Your Skills Are
What’s been your defining life experience? When you’re applying for an job writing online, you can put anything to good use. Here are just some of the places you can take inspiration from:
Remember at college when all the gap year brochures promised you’d get ‘life experience’ by going travelling? Well, it’s time put that experience to good use.Can you think of a time when you’ve had to think on your feet to get yourself out of a tricky situation? Did you survive on your own in a new country, or learn a new language? In today’s global market, your potential employer probably has connections overseas, so they will appreciate the skills you learned while you were away.
- Brand “You”
Your Facebook profile, Twitter stream and everything else that goes with it says something about you. Can you draw any communication skills from your online profiles? It’s not enough to know about Facebook and Twitter — do you know how to manage your own personal brand, or can you write consistently strong content about a particular subject?
I’ve got news for you if you think that the student website means a one-way ticket to a media job. Unfortunately, every other applicant will have the same experience, so go one step further and explain what skills you picked up while doing it. Did you lead a team, help with publicity or increase readership? A magazine or website is useless if people don’t read it, so how can you demonstrate that you know how readerships work?
- Training and qualifications
Have you done first aid training, or fire safety? Being nominated for these responsible positions shows trustworthiness, flexibility and commitment.
How about shorthand training or touch-typing? These skills are often overlooked as they seem out of date, but they demonstrate that you’re more than a one-trick-pony.
- Extra-curricular activities
Can you edit videos and upload them to YouTube, or wire up a PC with your eyes closed? Do you know your Holgas from your hot shoes (that’s photography speak)? A lot of online content jobs require some multimedia experience or some technical skills, especially in a small team.
Top CV Tip
Think specific skills. For example, rather than something vague like ‘good communication skills’, expand this area to include the type of communication skills you have. Are you a smart mediator? Can you think on your feet, or present confidently? Few people have these traits, and even fewer job candidates think to put them on their CV.
Remember, there are hundreds of applicants with ‘good communication skills’ on their CV. You may not have as much experience as some other candidates, but your ability to adapt is your competitive advantage.
Be the one with something different to say.
Step 2: Group Your Skills In To Sections
Next, group the skills that you’ve listed above into sub-sections. For example, there are 3 sets of skills I use in my CV: communication skills, technical skills and creative skills. My transferable skills are mixed in with my practical skills, but split up into 3 clear sections to make them easier to read.
You can use sections like these, or think of your own. I’ve just listed my skills on my CV, but in the next couple of steps we’ll be expanding to include your pitch to employers and also adding the experiences that lead y0u to develop these skills in the first place.
Step 3: Decide Why Your Skills Are Employable
These skills might involve some research or some thought, so give yourself time to consider the skills that are right for the type of job you are going for. Carry a notepad with you and write each skill down as you think of it.
Next to each skill, write down how you can demonstrate it and also how it relates to your online writing career. Remember to look at it from the perspective of an employer: they want to know why they should hire you above anyone else, which often means telling them how you can save them money or improve their team.
- How would your skill boost profits or save them money?
- Could you save time or make the office more efficient using your skill?
- Can you save them money by teaching your skill to other staff members?
- Could your skill inspire others, or does it mean you can work better as a team?
If you really can’t think of a way to relate a skill back to your chosen career, consider leaving it out for now, or alternatively save it for the ‘Additional Information’ section.
Step 4: Develop Your Examples
You might not have an example for every skill you have, as some are developed in day-to-day life. That’s ok: in this next step you can pick out the skills that you think show the most about your personality, or that are most relevant to your online writing career.
Choose three or four skills from your list, and write down:
- Where and when did you learn your skill? What was the specific experience?
- Did you learn the skill off your own back, or through working with others?
- How does your skill benefit your employer?
- What does your skill say about your personality, that would bring something to a team?
Over to You!
I hope the steps above will help you develop your CV and get your dream online copywriting job. Let me know how you get on in the comments below!