Every writer and English major always asks, “How can I get an entry level writing job?” After all, there’s nothing better than having a career doing what you love: sitting down and working on the written word.
However, the journey to finding that perfect entry level writing gig can be a challenge. Not only will you need to successfully navigate job search process, but you’ll have to be equipped for applying to the right gigs.
Don’t fret: there’s plenty of opportunities available for people who have a talent for writing! Finding an entry level writing job is all about knowing what you want to do (which is writing) and turning it into a viable career option.
Luckily there’s many ways you can get started in the writing field. Here’s the steps you can take on how to get an entry level writing job.
Know Your Reason for Writing
The first step to getting an entry level job in the writing field is understanding your reason for writing. You’ll want to know what your goals are, as well as have a general idea of where you want to go.
Think about what kind of work you want to do with your passion. Are you looking to work for a company, or are you interested in freelancing? The entry level writing job you’e hoping to find will help you in your journey.
Knowing your goals will allows you to create your writing portfolio and build experiences that match your desired entry level job. You should also have an idea on how challenging the field is to break into and make a plan. Soon enough, you’ll be educated on how to get an entry level writing job in your chosen path.
Start with an outline that has your primary goal listed on the top. Then, research and write down the steps you need to get there. This will help you understand what you need to do as well as help you build a time table.
What if I’m not sure about my career path?
Thinking about exactly where you want to be in your writing career two, ten, twenty years can be a challenge. No one knows what the future will bring, or if your goals will shift to other interests.
However, if you’re serious about wanting to use your writing talent, you’ll need to find your vision.
Take a step back and ask yourself what you’re looking to do with writing. This exercise will help you gauge your interests and allow you to be successful when you find a goal.
You also might find it helpful to write down a list of possible entry level jobs you can do with your talent, and seek to learn more about what each opportunity may bring to your life.
Building a support system
Once you identify your writing career goals, you’ll want to find people who can help you get where you want to be. That means you’ll want to start making connections and asking people who work in your chosen field how to get an entry level writing job.
You’ve probably already heard the value of networking if you’re a recent grad or conducted a little research on the job search process. They say you never know who will help you get a writing job or connect you to someone who can.
That’s also why LinkedIN, a website dedicated to helping job seekers find and connect to professionals, prides itself on the ability for users to make and keep professional connections. People understand that connecting to others can be one of the best ways to achieve success in your chosen field.
But where do you start? You might be thinking it’s much easier to say you need a network than to actually build one.
Here’s a few ways you can begin creating a support system as you pursue your writing career:
- Find mentors. Whether that’s a English professor or someone who works in the field you want to be in, a mentor can give you writing career tips and help launch you in the direction you want to go. Make connections with anyone you can and keep in touch. You never know who might be able to provide you with the reference you need for your dream writing job!
- Find writers with similar goals. Writers are the best people to help other writers, especially if you’re going through the same program! You can bounce ideas off each other and work to build your portfolios together. They say you’re very much like the people you surround yourself with, so putting hardworking writers first will help you cultivate your talent as you navigate your writing journey.
- Create a support system. Your family members, friends, and peers who support you will help you build a network that will encourage you to keep going until the end. You want to make sure you have positive, encouraging voices to help you throughout the job process. This network also might be able to reach out to their connections and introduce you to someone in your desired field!
Yes, there’s going to be downers out there that will criticize your choice of career; however, you know your direction, and you should stick to your writing goals.
Think about it: writers are needed everywhere, from creating quality blog posts to writing instruction manuals. Having superior English writing and grammar skills is becoming more and more of an asset as people work to create engaging content.
Take the first step in learning how to get an entry level writing job by connecting to those who can help you.
Understanding Your Marketability
Another crucial step to getting an entry level writing job is understanding what you’re worth in the market. You don’t want to look for jobs that are outside your qualifications, and you also want to make sure you’re fairly compensated for your writing talent.
If you have previous experience, that’s worth something. If you have a college degree, that’s also worth something. You want to try to calculate how much pay you can realistically make based on your background and experience.
Since you’re an entry level candidate, you’ll want to prepare these items on your resume:
- A list of previous experiences
- Extracurricular activities, especially if they relate to writing
- Volunteer work
- A link to writing samples
Once you have your resume laid out, you’ll have an idea of your experience. This will help you target jobs that match what you have and what you’re looking for.
Another way to understanding what jobs pay in your area is through research. Each and every market is different, so you should understand what kind of work is available to you as a writer or English major.
However, one great thing about the internet is some companies offer flexible or remote working opportunities. If you can foresee a work from home lifestyle, then you can also think about how those jobs fit into your overall goals as a writer.
Take the first step in researching jobs and decide what’s important to you in your writing career. Plan for what is and isn’t negotiable, and then you’ll be able to find writing opportunities that match your criteria.
But what if a job I want to apply for requires something outside my experience?
That’s a great question, and one writers often ask themselves as they start the job search process. Sometimes you’ll see the perfect job posting, but your resume may not quite be there yet.
Sounds like a conundrum, right? Well, here’s some good news: there’s cases where you still might have a chance if you apply!
Generally, it’s okay to apply to gigs if you possess 80% of the qualifications. If you can foresee yourself learning the rest on the job, then you don’t need possess every skill line for line.
Distinguishing what’s a “wish list” item and what’s a hard requirement can help you broaden your search. Take a minute to go through the requirements and find out what ways you qualify for the posting.
And those entry level job postings that say you need 2-4 years of prior experience? Yep, apply for those too. Usually that’s a dream requirement for entry level, and something that’s listed on virtually every job nowadays.
Richard Moy from The Muse wrote a great article about applying for jobs you might not exactly be qualified for. Do some research on understanding the requirement process, which will help you have a targeted strategy as you search for your entry level writing gig.
Prepare Your Writing Portfolio
One of the most critical pieces of a writing application is having professional writing samples. HR professionals are starting to require writing samples more and more to have job seekers prove themselves before they move them on to the interview stage.
In order to secure an entry level writing job, you’ll want to create a standout writing portfolio. That means you’ll want to have 6-8 samples of your absolute best work to choose from.
Why 6-8? Well, that’s because you’ll likely be applying to different types of writing jobs! Theoretically, if you have a blog post, newspaper article, and an e-mail to choose from, you can mix and match the writing samples based on the posting. If you’re aiming for a specific field (such as technical writing), having different options can help you aim the work towards a specific job.
Writers who can also show that they’ve worked with a variety of formats and styles will also likely have a stronger application than someone who writes exclusively for one medium. Consider building a writing portfolio that shows your talent and depth.
How to build a writing portfolio
Creating a writing portfolio for your perfect entry level job will take some time and effort. After all, the work you include in here should be a reflection of your best work as a writer.
Here’s a few tips for when you build your writing portfolio:
- Only choose the best samples. You want the writing samples you provide to show off your talent, meaning you should be selective of what you include. Choose your best blog posts, newspaper articles, etc. to ensure that you’re presenting your best work. First impressions matter!
- Keep your samples current. That project you did three years ago might need to be replaced with something you’ve recently worked on. The more recent your work samples, the more you’ll have to talk about in what you’ve been currently doing. You also want to show a recruiter what your current capabilities are.
- If you don’t have a sample, make a sample. Some people think they need a formal internship or experience to have a writing sample, but that’s not true. You can create your own professional writing samples by developing a mock sample, volunteering to write for an organization, or starting a blog. You don’t have to wait for the world to hand you the opportunity, so you should be able to generate one!
- Make your writing portfolio fit 90% of applications. When you create a writing portfolio, design it in a way that fits most entry level job applications. This will help you save time, especially if you’re required to upload the samples to the application.
Spend some time on your writing portfolio and make it the best you can. Soon enough, you’ll be prepared to apply for entry level writing jobs!
Apply, Apply, Apply
One of the most crucial parts of landing an entry level writing job is continuously applying for writing jobs. When you’re searching for a job, you also want to make sure you’re submitting to enough of opportunities.
Think of it this way: every entry level writing opportunity is a chance to use your writing or English skills. The more you apply to, the greater your chances are at securing an entry level writing job.
Since writing jobs now get hundreds and hundreds of applicants, you want to continue to apply to writing jobs until you receive a formal offer. After all, you want to make sure you’re maximizing your chances while you continue your search.
Here’s a few more tips you can use as you apply for entry level writing jobs:
- Keep every job description. When you apply for writing jobs, sometimes the job posting will be taken down after HR collects applications. You don’t want to walk into an interview with a vague idea on what you applied for, so make an effort to keep every job post on a word document.
- Track your applications. Keep a spreadsheet of every job you apply for, the company, and what date you applied. This can help gauge the timeline of the hiring process, especially if you’re considering following up on your application.
- Apply for jobs early. You want to try to apply for jobs within a day or two of posting. This will not only give you a higher chance at getting an interview, but it ensure you’re only applying for writing jobs that are still active. Something that was posted a month ago might have already started the interview process, and it’s unlikely a late application would get noticed.
- Include a cover letter, even if it’s not required. Since you’re applying for entry level writing jobs, you should include a cover letter with every application if you can. A good writer will show that they can write, and your cover letter is the perfect chance to do this!
It’s never easy sending out hundreds of applications, but in the end, you’ll end up in your dream field if you work hard and continuously apply!
Take the First Step in Finding Your Writing job!
Now that you know how to find an entry level writing job, it’s time to get started on crafting your strategy. Start designing your resume, creating your portfolio, making connections, and identifying opportunities you’re interested in pursuing.
Also pro tip: never give up! Those who keep trying will eventually achieve success and make it to their dream job.
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