4 Things Better Than a Writer’s Résumé

This post was written by John White on Tue, 15 Sep 2009 19:30:54 +0000
Posted Under: Hiring writers,rapport with writer,vetting writers

resume_e7c9841e51While most job-seekers rely on a résumé to describe who they are and where they’ve been, professional marketing communications writers often prefer a marketing piece more akin to a brochure.

Do you ever ask for a freelance writer’s résumé? What for?

Most freelance writers don’t deal in résumés. In some large companies, the function of hiring a freelance writer ends up in Human Resources, where the starting point for everything is a résumé. This is especially likely if the writer is a sole proprietor billing against a personal Social Security number.

As a marketing manager, getting a résumé from a freelance writer may strike you as a square peg in a round hole. After all, a writer is either:

  1. freelance
  2. full-time
  3. pseudo-freelance while looking for full-time
  4. your cousin

If he’s #2 or #3, he’ll have a résumé because he’s in the mood for a job. (Don’t hire him if he’s #4; I guarantee you’ll regret it by the next family gathering.) If he’s #1, he usually hangs out his shingle in other formats:

  • E-brochure – The kind of thing you’d expect to see on a Website, with statements of capabilities and services offered. These have the stigma of being “not what Web 2.0 is about,” but how else can you as a marketing manager figure out whether you’re dealing with a writer or a refrigerator repairman? A tastefully executed Services page on a Website or blog readily answers the question, “Is there some chance you can solve my business problem?”
  • Portfolio of writing samples – Unless he’s been writing top-secret papers for the intelligence community all of his professional life, the writer should have samples and be prepared to display them. If you don’t see them on his site, ask for them. Challenge the writer to show you something that is similar to what you need written; however, don’t shut the door just because you don’t see the 6-page white paper on interferometric modulation that you want him to clone for your company. You may need to assess the writer’s ability to digest a new topic and deliver a good technology essay based on it. Which leads us to…
  • Testimonials – Referrals and endorsements from any marketing communications writer’s other clients should leave you comfortable that he will do what he says he’ll do – the cornerstone of any business relationship – and write the paper that you need. If for some reason he has no references and you still want to work with him, you can always try…
  • Your network – He may know somebody you know and trust, and perhaps that’s enough of a shingle for you. There’s a lot of value in your network and the trusted relationships you have, and a connection like this may be all the writer needs to market himself. Some writers don’t bother with marketing material, samples or testimonials at all because their own network connects with yours, bringing all the work they can handle right up to their door. These people certainly don’t need a résumé.

In the context of hiring a freelance writer, these four formats go much further towards demonstrating to you his ability to solve your problem than a résume does.

John White of venTAJA Marketing posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it.

photo credit: SOCIALisBETTER

Reader Comments

Great suggestions. Thanks, John for helping to push us into the 21st century!
Eve

#1 
Written By Eve Bodeux on September 16th, 2009 @ 9:08

Yes, thank you. I agree entirely (even if I DID just write a post about freelancer’s resumes). Because, frankly, the first time someone asked me for one, I couldn’t quite see the point…

#2 
Written By --Deb on October 6th, 2009 @ 15:56

@Deb: It’s not that I think résumés are irrelevant. I’m just trying to convince freelancers to fish or cut bait, and when freelancers hand me a résumé, I assume they’re still cutting bait.

#3 
Written By John White on October 6th, 2009 @ 16:06