Archive for the ‘Tips for Freelance Writers’ Category

How to Find a Mentor

Friday, September 18th, 2015

ApprenticeshipEstablishing a relationship with a mentor is a valuable milestone for any young professional. Not only can it provide meaningful insight and industry knowledge, but it can also help you hone your skills and become more desirable in the job market. Whether you’re a freelance writer building a portfolio or a recent marketing graduate, a mentorship can help you develop into a more well-rounded, well-informed person.

While the need for a mentor is common business knowledge, many professionals find themselves stumped when it comes to getting started. Here are five tips to help you find the right advisor and continue full steam ahead along the path to success.

1. Set goals.

Before answering the question of who your mentor is, you should think about why you want one. Are there any particular abilities or skills that you would like to improve? In which areas of your career do you need feedback? By setting goals for what you would like to accomplish with a mentorship, you’ll increase your chances of finding the right person to help you achieve them.

2. Know what to look for.

You should have at least a rough idea of your dream mentor. Ideally, it should be someone who’s very much like yourself, and who has a career trajectory similar to the one you’d like to take. If your mentor shares many of your traits, you’ll find it much easier to communicate and glean valuable wisdom from their experiences.

3. Start slow. 

During this process, you may find a few potential mentors on the horizon. Rather than simply asking one of them to guide you, take the time to get to know them and gauge whether they’ll be a good fit. This is where the Internet is invaluable. Do plenty of research on potential mentors, whether that’s by reading their blogs or researching their work history on sites like LinkedIn.

4. Get to know them.

Once you’ve done your due diligence, invite each candidate out for coffee or lunch, without expressly stating that you’re feeling them out for a mentorship. This will give you the opportunity to learn who they are as a person and test your professional chemistry. While it’s wise to have a few questions in mind, don’t conduct the meeting like an interview. Keep it informal and friendly, but pay close attention to the vibes you’re getting from this person. Do you think you can learn from them? Would you enjoy spending time with them?

5. Let it develop naturally.

Once you’ve narrowed down the options and made your choice, don’t force anything. After your initial meeting, email or call to say you’d like to meet again and make plans for a future date. The relationship should develop organically, but if you find yourself stuck at any point, you can always simply ask if they’d be open to a mentorship.

Finding a mentor can be tricky. But by taking things slow, keeping an open mind, and carefully considering your options, you’ll be poised to establish a dynamic, reciprocal relationship that will inspire and motivate you for years to come.

Application Tips for Freelance Copywriters

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

pick meWorking as a freelance copywriter can be highly rewarding, allowing you to nurture your creativity while exploring a wide range of interesting subjects. One day you might be tasked with blogging for a musician, and the next day might have you crafting a case study for a cosmetics company. But the application process for these positions can be very competitive and rigorous. How can you ensure that your resume makes it to the top of the pile? Let’s dive into a few tips for ensuring that your freelance writing application stands out and doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

Read the Instructions 

Before you write, you’ve gotta read. Thoroughly peruse the job posting or application instructions. For many gigs, the posting will specify what specific subject line you should use, which person you should contact, or whether you should include salary requirements. Sometimes the company will request a writing sample or a link to your portfolio. If you only skim the body of the ad, you could miss important instructions and come across as unobservant to your prospective employer.

Make It Reader-friendly

Keep in mind that the hiring manager may get inundated with dozens of applications for the position. While your resume and cover letter should be attractive and well-designed, they should also be organized with the reader in mind. Break your cover letter into smaller, digestible paragraphs, and use bullets or lists in your resume. Incorporate headings and bold text to highlight particularly important points.

Be Genuine

Copying and pasting a cover letter template will put your resume on the fast-track to the trash bin. Let your real personality shine through, whether that’s by using a fresh, genuine writing style or including personal (but not too personal) details about yourself. Mention what you like about the company, and how you think you can help them achieve their goals. Be honest about your qualifications; don’t over- or under-sell yourself. There’s a fine line between impressing the hiring manager and turning him off with a smarmy sales pitch.

Choose the Right Samples

At some point, you’re going to have to supply writing samples. Choose samples that are relevant to the work the company does. If they’re in the education industry, for example, you might send an instructional piece or a news article about education reform. Beyond their core content, you should also pay attention to the tone and voice of their work. Do they like tongue-in-cheek, or are they a more professional, polished firm? Tailor your clips accordingly. If you’re applying directly to an advertising company, you may find it worthwhile to send a variety of pieces to showcase your range.

No-one ever said it was easy to break into the freelance writing industry — but these four tips will help you stand out among the sea of applicants searching for the perfect copywriting client.

Are You Guilty of Using Weasel Words?

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

3650766823_1d2ba42be3In the realm of bad writing habits, “weasel words” are pretty high up there. These tricky terms are used as a crutch for writers to weasel their way out of making a definitive point. Instead of taking a clear stance on a subject, the writer undermines her statement by qualifying it with one of many culprits, including “might,” “could,” “very,” “surely,” “however,” “although,” or “as much as.”

So, why would a smart and creative writer choose to settle for one of these weasel words?

Reason #1: To Purposely Skew the Facts

This is likely the most common reason freelance writers use weasel words. If there’s a particular study or data set that could support their argument, they might be inclined to frame it in an ambiguous way to strengthen their case. For instance, you may write that “studies show that our software could increase workplace efficiency by up to 20%.” If only one company reports an efficiency increase of 20%, however, this number could be highly misleading.

You don’t have to chuck your statistics – simply find a way to frame them that doesn’t involve weasel words. For instance, you could write that “one company reported an increase in workplace efficiency of 20%.” This is factual, honest, and to the point.

Reason #2: Plausible Deniability 

In some cases, freelance writers might want to hedge their language as a means of protecting themselves from false claims. If a writer definitively claims that something will happen and then the exact opposite occurs, they could lose a significant chunk of credibility. Weasel words are a tempting way to get off the hook. After all, saying something “may” happen is different than saying that it WILL.

This is actually a reasonable use for weasel words, but it does come with one caveat: don’t overdo it. If your article or press release is peppered with these sneaky sayings, your readers may get the impression that you have an ulterior motive or that you’re misrepresenting yourself. Only use weasel words if you feel it’s necessary to protect yourself, but don’t abuse them.

Reason #3: Lack of Evidence

And then there’s the instances when writers simply don’t have the factual evidence to back up their claims. This is perhaps the most pernicious use of weasel words, and over time it can wreak havoc on a freelance writer’s career. Simply put: if you don’t have the facts to back up your argument, make a different argument or write it as an opinion piece. But whatever you do, don’t use this language technique to create false impressions or mislead your readers. More often than not, they’ll find out and peg you as dishonest.

Although weasel words are best avoided, there are some instances when it may be necessary to slip a few into your writing. As with any technique, use them sparingly and with good intentions, and you won’t come out looking like a shyster.

“Who Will Be Writing My Content?”

Friday, April 10th, 2015

ghostwriter1I get this question a lot from prospective clients. They visit my website, see “Words by Melissa & Associates,” and wonder “Who are these mysterious ‘Associates’?

I don’t blame them. After all, they have a right to verify that their content will come from a professional, trusted source.

When I started my Cincinnati freelance writing business back in 2007, I was a one-woman show. From technology case studies to articles about potty training to descriptions of Santa figurines, I wrote every word. Over the next couple of years — as my client roster, workload, and family all continued to grow — I realized I was approaching a line. And once I crossed it, I simply wouldn’t be able to keep juggling without dropping something important and breakable.

That’s when I began experimenting with hiring backup writers to handle some of the overflow work. I had mixed feelings about it at first. After all, the quality of my content was a source of pride to me, and the foundation of my business. It was a little scary to give up some control and put my trust in third parties. But every reward starts with some element of risk. This strategy seemed to be a viable way to cultivate as many client relationships as possible, while boosting productivity.

Over the years, I’ve worked with a handful of writers. I carefully hand-pick them to ensure optimal quality and precision of the finished product. I still do a large bulk of the client work myself, but during those periods when projects are coming in fast and furious — and the line between “writer” and “mommy” becomes blurred beyond recognition — I may leverage one or more writers to assist with initial drafts and research. All content is funneled through me for final review, editing, and any necessary rewriting before I submit it to the client for review.

For the projects where I’ve outsourced at least some of the content, the clients have reported that quality was not compromised. To the contrary, it’s often improved by the benefit of having multiple people’s eyes on the content. Plus, if a project calls for a specific type of knowledge or experience, I can tap a writer with that particular specialty. And if any revisions are required (which is rare), I personally handle them.

I’ve also found that working with other writers has made ME a better writer. I’ve honed my editing chops, learned to effective manage people and projects, and become a stronger communicator — all important traits for any successful freelance writer.

Ultimately, my freelance writing business is only as successful as my clients’ satisfaction levels. If they are receiving engaging, well-written, and fully researched content — along with my stamp of approval and quality guarantee — then I’ve done my job well. Just as a surgeon needs help prepping her patients before the main event, I believe there’s no shame in a busy copywriter enlisting some help in crafting an early draft.

Nothing trumps quality — regardless of who’s holding the pen.

Handling Criticism With Grace

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

revisionsAll freelance writers go through it. Whether we’re writing web copy, product descriptions, or press releases, there will inevitably be those heart-sinking days when clients give us — to put it delicately — less than stellar feedback. Maybe the tone or style wasn’t quite what they had in mind, or perhaps the research was lacking and a few facts were missing or in error. Or perhaps the client is just exceedingly picky and darn near impossible to please (which is a separate issue altogether).

Whatever the source of the dissatisfaction, that first instance of negative feedback can be a crushing blow to a freelance writer’s ego, especially if he or she is just starting out. But as your skin thickens and you get some content jobs under your belt, you’ll get better at handling criticism from clients — and, in many cases, turning it into a positive.

Read on for a few tips on how to gracefully receive less-than-glowing feedback, and come out of it with your confidence intact.

  • Remember that it happens to everyone. We’ve all heard the stories about how Stephen King and J.K. Rowling endured dozens of rejections before their first books were published. Judging content is extremely subjective, and there will inevitably be someone who doesn’t fall in love with your stuff. Keep in mind that you’re in good company, and one disillusioned client does not erase your previous successes and skills.
  • Step back before reacting. It can be tempting to immediately reply in defense of your work, but it’s best to take some time to let the feedback sink in. If the client provided clear and detailed gripes, you know what you’re dealing with. But if the feedback was vague — such as “It didn’t meet expectations” — ask for clarification of what specifically didn’t float their boat.
  • Do some discovery. Once you have the detailed feedback, revisit the project specs and make sure you didn’t miss anything. Next, review the content again and make sure you didn’t miss any errors. If you realize that any part of the content falls short of your best work, you can acknowledge that in your response.
  • Take responsibility. If you discover that you were at fault for any of the issues — whether it was a typo or a botched fact –  ‘fess up and offer an apology. Never offer a string of excuses or pass the buck. The client doesn’t need to know that your kid was sick and you were distracted while writing their article. Just apologize and offer to fix it.
  • Offer revisions. Most freelance writers offer one (or sometimes two) round of revisions at no additional charge. I’d say in 99% of these cases, some thoughtful editing can turn around the whole situation. Of course, if the client has suddenly decided she wants to make sweeping changes to a project’s topic or scope, that warrants a separate conversation and fee adjustment.)
  • Keep the client’s needs in mind. If you’re not meeting them, the project won’t succeed. Treat every complaint as an opportunity to better understand those needs, so you can recalibrate your arrow and hit the bulls-eye squarely next time.

These are just a few best practices for handling negative client feedback. I’d love to hear what other freelance writers (and clients) would add to this list!

The Great Pay Disparity

Monday, April 6th, 2015

moneyI’ve been a freelance writer for eight years now, since leaving my corporate content job in 2007. In that time, I’ve found that the only consistent part of content writing is its inconsistency — especially in regard to pay.

Starting out, anxious to build a portfolio and gain some credibility, I was content to get paid peanuts. I’ll admit that I wrote plenty of articles for $10 or even $5 apiece. But as my experience and client list grew, I nudged up my fees accordingly. Even so, I’ve always been fascinated by the huge disparity in what various clients are willing to pay — and it’s not always what you’d expect. A small business may offer a competitive rate for some blog posts, and the next day a larger company will share their considerably smaller budget for web content — leaving me scratching my head.

With the hugely subjective nature of placing a value on content, how can a freelance writer sniff out the higher-paying clients and eventually leave those $5 articles behind? Here are a few tips.

  • Vet the prospects. There ARE quality clients out there with healthy budgets. Sure, they’re harder to find, but it’s worth the digging. Bypass the too-good-t0-be-true Craigslist offers; these usually don’t pan out. Take the time to thoroughly research companies, make a list of the good, solid ones, and tailor your marketing efforts to them.
  • Say bye-bye to job boards. Like most freelance copywriters, I used them early on, but they’re not an avenue for sustaining a steady (or growing) income. Most of those boards are frequented by low-paying clients who want to audition a bunch of new writers for pennies on the word.
  • Network. Ideally, in person. A single face-to-face meeting can get you further down the path to prosperity than dozens of anonymous Internet exchanges.
  • Publish quality content. Whether it’s your own freelance writing blog (like this one), or a reputable website or magazine, putting great content out there is the quickest way to build credibility and establish the trust of high-paying clients.
  • Base rates on value. Instead of limiting yourself by pricing your services hourly, consider how much revenue your web copy, article, or eBook will generate for the client – and then charge accordingly.

I could go on and on — but these are just a few of the ways that content writers can start weaning themselves off of penny-pinching clients and attract the ones who place a higher value on skilled writing professionals.

How to Spot a Great Freelance Client

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

successEvery freelance writer has heard the horror stories about bad clients, and most have had at least one run-in. You know you should try to avoid working with those problem clients—but how can you ensure that more of the good ones wind up in your roster?

What makes a good freelance client? The ability to recognize them can help you build a successful freelance writing business that benefits both you and the companies you write for. Working with great clients means less stress and a more flexible, creative working environment, which translates into higher quality output.

Here are some of the common characteristics many good freelance clients share.

A good track record

One way to spot a great client is to find out how they treat other freelance writers they’ve worked with. If other writers have had poor experiences with the client, it’s doubtful that you’ll be treated much better. In cases where the client hasn’t worked with freelance writers before, find out how they treat their customers—this can be a good indication of what you can expect from the relationship.

Clear communication

This is one of the most important traits for any freelance-client relationship. Good freelance clients will successfully communicate what they want and need from an assignment, since they’ll realize that you can’t deliver something that wasn’t requested. They’ll also be available to answer questions, ensuring that projects are completed the right way, the first time.

Realistic expectations

Great freelance clients don’t expect you to work miracles. They set reasonable deadlines, and don’t ask you to take on a big project Friday afternoon that’s due on Monday morning. They also won’t keep expanding a project and adding new tasks, unless they’re paying extra. A good client values quality over quantity.

Fair pay

They say you get what you pay for, and a good freelance client takes that to heart. Great clients know that low pay means high volume and rushed work. They’re willing to pay more for quality, and they’ll come through with payment in a timely fashion.

Respect for your work                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Good freelance clients understand that writing is a skill, and they’ll have respect for you and your abilities. Respect is an important foundation for any business relationship—if a client has a high regard for you, they’ll be much less likely to offer low rates or haggle on prices, neglect payments, add on more work (without paying more), demand short deadlines, or engage in any of the other behaviors associated with bad clients.

Another sign of respect is a client who lets you do your job, without micromanaging or second-guessing your abilities. Good clients are comfortable with the client-writer relationship—that’s why they started working with you in the first place.

Willingness to form an ongoing relationship

Building a long-term relationship is an advantage for both freelance writers and their clients, and a great client knows this. Good freelance clients are looking for writers who can learn their style and expectations, and then continually deliver the quality of work they need. They don’t want to train a new writer every time they need another project done.

The best clients will also seek to grow the professional relationship with you. Over time, they’ll ask for more comprehensive projects, and will pay more as your experience and value increase.

What qualities do you look for in a great freelance client?

How to Handle a High-Maintenance Client

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

thMost freelance writers find that the majority of their clients are great to work with. But just like any other industry, there will always be a few who turn out to be a little more challenging. They may be hard to please, contradictory, overly involved and demanding, or hyper-concerned about results to the point of micro-managing projects.

Regardless of the particulars, dealing with high-maintenance clients can be frustrating for a freelance writer. These tips will help you tackle the occasional but inevitable difficult client, so you can emerge with your professionalism and sanity intact.

The best defense is a good offense

One of the best ways to handle difficult freelance clients is to not work with them in the first place. Of course, it’s practically impossible to spot every potential challenge, but a proactive strategy for identifying and avoiding high-maintenance clients can go a long way toward alleviating issues.

Here’s how to set up your freelance writing business so you’re less likely to pull in difficult clients:

  • Charge professional rates. Keeping your rates low can be a competitive strategy, but rock-bottom fees tend to attract the type of client you don’t really want to work with. Low-budget clients aren’t likely to respect your skills as a professional, because they view you as cheap labor—which can actually make them more demanding than high-paying clients. They’re also not very invested in a project they’re not paying much for.
  • Allow yourself to say no. Beginning freelance writers often feel they can’t afford to turn down any client, even if they know the client is going to be a nightmare to work with. Strive to be in a financial position where you’re able to turn down some projects down. This may mean working another part-time job until you’re established—but focus on quality over quantity, and build your freelance practice in a way that allows you to be choosy with clients.
  • Build relationships with regulars. Repeat clients are gold to a freelance writer. The more steady, reliable clients you have, the less you’ll need to take on difficult clients. Developing a solid working relationship also benefits your clients, since they don’t have to seek out a new freelancer every time they need content.

Despite taking precautions, you’ll still end up with the occasional challenging client. Here’s what to do when you find yourself in these situations.

Stay in touch

It’s a natural instinct to want to avoid contact with a difficult client, but this is exactly the wrong approach. The situation will actually be better if you communicate frequently. High-maintenance clients typically need to feel like their concerns are being addressed, so as long as you’re speaking regularly to them about the status of their project, they’ll believe you’re on top of things—and will be less likely to get frustrated.

Instead of asking what’s wrong, ask what’s right

A common problem freelance writers have with difficult clients is the “make it better” routine. You turn in a project, and they’re not happy with it—but they don’t say why. The extent of their feedback is “just make it sound better.” When pressed for details, they either can’t or won’t articulate what they don’t like about the content.

In this case, you may be able to get more insight by asking the client what’s right about the project. Use open-ended questions to find out what they think would make it sound better, or whether there’s a particular way they want something phrased. Listen to the responses and give them exactly what they’re asking for.

Request a reference or example

There are many freelance clients who can’t articulate the type of piece they want. If you’re struggling to understand why they’re unsatisfied with a particular project, or if the initial instructions are vague and unclear, ask the client to provide specific examples of the type of writing they envision.

Don’t accept a list of business authors or a noncommittal “it’s kind of like this, with some of that” here—instead, request links to websites that have a similar tone and style to what the client wants. This can help you pinpoint the issue, even if the client can’t.

Stay professional

High-maintenance clients can test even the friendliest and most patient freelance writers. When a client complains endlessly, yells at or berates you, or generally acts in an unprofessional manner, it’s tempting to give back what you’re getting. But staying professional in the face of less-than-cordial behavior not only helps you manage your stress levels, but can also help to defuse a potentially explosive situation.

Fire the client

This should be a last resort. If you’ve tried and failed to come up with something the client is happy with, and you’ve used every trick in the book to figure out what they really want to no avail, then it’s time to part ways. Again, keep it professional—simply tell the client that you’re obviously not a good match, and you’re withdrawing from the project.

How do you handle working with difficult clients?

Tips for Managing Your To-Do List

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

todoTo-do lists can be a writer’s best friend. Making lists not only helps you figure out everything you really need to get done, but also provides a sense of satisfaction as you check off finished items.

On the other hand, the humble to-do list can also become a driving force that dictates everything you work on—if they’re not managed well, you can end up constantly working in reactive mode instead of gaining steady ground on your mountain of work.

How to-do lists evolve into taskmasters

It’s natural to group tasks on a to-do list according to urgency. In fact, one of the most popular ways to categorize to-do lists uses the “four quadrants” defined by Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. These quadrants create groups of tasks that are:

  1. Important AND urgent
  2. Important but NOT urgent
  3. Unimportant BUT urgent
  4. Neither urgent nor important

Most people assume that tasks under the first group, important AND urgent, should be tackled first. But Covey has stated that the second group—important but NOT urgent—should actually be a higher priority.

Why? When you’re focused on doing nothing but important, urgent tasks, you’re constantly in putting-out-fires mode. You only handle things when they absolutely have to be done, and as a result you fall behind on larger projects that have long lead times.

For a freelance writer, working on the most important and urgent tasks often means putting off that huge 10,000-word assignment that’s due in three weeks, because you have plenty of time and more urgent things to do—only to suddenly find yourself with just three days to write 10,000 words.

How to change your lists and master your tasks

If your to-do lists have gone from inspiring to daunting, a shift in your priorities can help you work more efficiently, stop procrastinating, and get out of rush mode more often. Here are some tips to help you tame a runaway to-do list:

  • Break it down: This is an elementary to-do list step, but many writers still skip it. If you have a big project, don’t write it down as “finish a 10,000-word ebook”. Instead, list smaller tasks such as “research ebook, write ebook outline, write 2 ebook chapters,” and so on, spacing the tasks out until the deadline.
  • Use a “WANT to do” list: Add a category of tasks you want to get done today to your lists. You’ll feel more motivated to get to them, and more confident when you check these items off.
  • Keep the “MUST” list short: If your to-do list has ten items under the “do this today OR ELSE” category, you’ll end up feeling demoralized and overwhelmed. Consider your musts carefully, and decide which 2 or 3 things really have to be done today—and which ones can be moved.
  • Make a “quick tasks” category: Add a list of things you can complete in 5 minutes or less, and tackle those tasks when you have a break—such as between phone calls, or in the middle of a larger assignment. Your lists will start showing more accomplishments, and you’ll feel like you’re making progress.
  • Consider outsourcing your optional tasks: If you have a list of things that would be nice to get done, but they aren’t important or urgent, think about outsourcing. There are inexpensive sources for overflow tasks, such as eLance and Fiverr—and if you have teenagers at home, they’d probably be interested in earning some extra cash.
  • Emulate the experts. Check out these 6 things successful freelance writers do every day.

With a few simple changes, your to-do list can be more manageable than ever. How do you tame your to-do list?

Resume Copywriting Tips to Stand Out from the Crowd

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

resumeNo one likes resumes. Job seekers hate writing them, recruiters and employers hate wading through them—but they’re a necessary tool for anyone who’s looking to land an interview.

Unfortunately, there is plenty of competition among resume submissions, and you only have a few seconds to get an employer’s attention before he or she moves on to the next in the pile. In fact, Forbes reports that recruiters spend about 7 seconds reviewing a resume before they decide whether or not to interview—so they’re looking for a reason to reject. Some deal-killers for resumes include:

  • Typos and grammar mistakes
  • An unprofessional email address
  • Irrelevant information

Your resume must be letter-perfect, professional, and exciting before applying for a copywriting job. Use these copywriting tips to polish your resume to a high shine and catch the attention of employers — or consider hiring a freelance writer to wordsmith your draft.

Use structure to cut clutter

If you load your resume with “fun facts” about your interests and hobbies, employers will pass you by. All they want to know is whether you deserve an interview. Streamline your resume with a simple structure: Objective, Summary, Work History/Experience, and Training.

Keep it short and sweet

Concise, punchy resumes are a beautiful thing to employers. You don’t have to detail every single job responsibility and accomplishment to get attention—stick to the highlights, and if your job history is less than 10 years, keep it all on a single page.

Don’t try to use a tiny font size to cram everything in, either. A one-page resume should be about 700 words.

Weed out weak words

Certain words used on a resume can indicate either low achievement or a lack of experience, and both of those will turn off employers. According to a ZipRecruiter analysis of 3 million resumes, those words are: me, myself, learning, first, hard, chance, and need. If your resume contains these poor word choices, rewrite to remove them.

Pile on power words

On the other hand, ZipRecruiter identified a number of words that make recruiters and employers happy, so use them when you can. These include: development, skill, project, business, professional, experience, knowledge, team, management, and leadership.

Get creative with your summary

Your summary is the first thing employers read, so make it amazing. Come up with a powerful paragraph that leaves out clichés and reveals your achievements, experiences, and ambitions—while tying it all in to how you can do great things for the company.

Drill into details

When listing your experiences and accomplishments, avoid flat phrasing and general statements that read like a job description. Highlight your unique contributions and list the results you achieved, using numbers and percentages whenever possible. Proving your ROI as a candidate is a great way to get noticed.

Proofread backwards

A survey from CareerBuilder found that 58% of resumes have typos in them—one of the easiest reasons for employers to reject you, and one of the easiest to fix. Spending a little extra time proofreading your resume is one of the best investments you can make in your job search.

So, once you (or a skilled freelance resume writer) has transformed your resume into a streamlined, lean and mean interview-landing tool:

  • Wait a few days before proofreading. If you try to proofread immediately after you’ve worked on your resume, your eyes will see what you meant to write, instead of what’s actually there.
  • Ask someone else to read over your resume and look for grammar, spelling, and other mistakes or awkward spots.
  • Read every line backwards, one word at a time, starting from the bottom.

Keep in mind that a resume should not be a dry list of what you’ve done in your career. Instead, it should be an engaging snapshot of you as a candidate, with an emphasis on why the employer needs to call you right now for an interview.