Credit where credit is due – over to my colleague Chris Bell of Risky Content – for inspiring me to write a little about this.
Job searching can be exhausting. It’s difficult to stay positive when it feels like you’re just submitting applications into a void – if you’re lucky, you might get an automatically generated email saying that the application was received. If you’re not, you just feel like nobody’s out there. And that’s at the application stage, not even any further down the line.
For a writer transitioning into the digital scene, whether it be digital marketing / SEO or content writing, how can you make the search more effective?
I don’t have all the answers, but if you’re scrambling for suggestions, here are three.
1. In the application stage, focus on tools/software/numbers, as appropriate.
Do you know how many users use your system, or refer to your marketing materials? Did you come up with a style guide by referencing a particular established style (APA, Chicago, et al)? Do you have pageviews for articles? Conversion rates? Keep track of that stuff if you can and use it to bolster your applications. If you are not doing so already, keep a file of accomplishments related to your work and career interests for your own reference. If you are familiar with particular software, such as Adobe Photoshop, even at a basic level – say so. Names and numbers mean a LOT at this stage as both HR folk and application management software initially scan for key words.
2. Try to figure out where the jobs you want, are posting.
This one’s a bit trickier and takes a little more research, due to the vast array of job boards and listings out there. But it’s possible to ask around and say: look, I work (or want to work) in tech, should I look at Dice or The Ladders for my information? Those sorts of questions, that sort of research. If you have access to a professional organization’s job boards, use those as well, but be aware of any guidelines that the organization may impose upon the listing.
3. While you’re at it… Study.
If you have the finances to do so, look at Treehouse or the videos on Lynda.com. If your focus is on writing for the digital space, maybe check out related skills like learning about typography, to CSS (visual presentation), or learn about content management systems like Drupal or WordPress.
Likewise, if your focus is on writing/editorial, it may be helpful to occasionally check the established styles as updates happen, such as the recent inclusion of singular “they”. In the digital world, I’ve seen mainly Chicago style and APA be used as the basis for in-house style guides, though I am sure there are places where other styles are used. If you are involved with making in-house style guides, note that the main reason is for consistency. Departures from “accepted style” are appropriate depending on the client, industry, and other factors, just remember to detail your reasoning for a decision if it is under some argument.