What is the next step in my job search?
April 22, 2008 11:05 PM   Subscribe

What is the next step in my search for a job as an editor/ copy writer? I’ve been searching Craig’s List, Monster, etc. and I’ve submitted applications through some network contacts. I’ve yet to hear back from anyone and I’m wondering what to do next.

So, here’s my history: I graduated from a state school with my degree in education, though my specialization is language arts. I took not only literature classes, but courses in communication, research, journalism, etc. I taught for one year and then decided that teaching wasn’t for me. I worked as a barista and then helped a family friend with his small business. After that I moved to Orange County and worked as a retail clerk here just to have a reason to get out of the apartment. Now my husband and I are getting serious about buying a house and it would be helpful if I could bring in a more substantial income.

I feel like I would be qualified to take an entry level position as a copywriter or editor, but I’m not seeing many of these kinds of jobs advertised. Is my next step to simply send out resumes to HR departments and hope for the best? Is there something I can do to improve my resume while I’m waiting? Is there some other entry-level corporate type job that I should try for?

I like the answer to the question here, but I would love answers more specific to this career field or area.
posted by shesbookish to Work & Money (11 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
i can tell you what worked for me, which may be helpful.

i started out working in Hollywood (non-writing work), but used my writing skills to expand the writing elements of my job. then i rewrote my resume to accentuate that part of my job and looked for another job with a writing requirement. in my case, a PR job, where i wrote a lot of press releases, newsletters, etc. i did that for a year and then worked it out with my employer so i could leave but continue to write for her as a freelancer.

the first few years sucked. i cleaned a lot of houses. now i work from home (overseas, actually) on a contract basis for a few different companies.

so one way to go would be to find an initial position that requires some writing skill/work and build on that. i doubt any reputable firm would hire a writer with no real experience, unless you've got a connection. connections are great; if you've got one, work it.

you could also offer your services to friends with companies for free so you can blag some experience and show some writing samples. if you have good samples, that will be very helpful. more helpful than a resume, frequently.

if you take some corporate job, just make sure there's a writing/editing element so you can build up experience, etc.

good luck!
posted by xz at 12:15 AM on April 23, 2008

Another route could be to contact translation agencies, which often need editors to check translations, not necessarily for accuracy against the source text, but for style. This may be more proof reading than copyediting, but as with xz's post, you might could view it as an entry-level stepping stone to bigger things.

Best practice in the translation industry is for translators to translate only into their native language (which often makes editing unnecessary), but lots of places do not follow this rule, particularly where the linguistic differences are so great that talented and reiliable translators are a scarce resource. The result is that you get, for example, native Japanese translators translating into English; the output may be fine in terms of meaning/message, but it will often be ungrammatical in places and definitely not what I would call "client ready" -- that is, ready for publication or ready for the translation agency's client to use the document as-is in meetings with its own clients. Lots of this material needs to be proofed before it goes back to the client.
posted by Bixby23 at 1:01 AM on April 23, 2008

Best answer: Caveat: anything I say is only going to be applicable to book publishing, not magazine work or similar.

Here is where pretty much any publishing job that is going to be publicly posted ends up:


You may also want to check the websites of the major publishers directly. Many, like Random House, Inc., have a "Careers At X" section.

And yes, it's a good idea to send your resume to places you're interested in even if they are not posting jobs right now. They'll keep your resume on hand for when there is an open position.

To clarify, in book publishing, the entry level job is not what I'd describe as an "entry level position as an editor" -- instead, you're an "editorial assistant." You perform largely clerical work in the assistance of an editor, occasionally performing mild, supervised editorial duties. Part of your problem, as I would see it, is that you have several years of experience under your belt, but they're not the right kind of experience. So you are underqualified for anything above editorial assistant, but a bit too experienced for HR to believe that you're going to be as happy as the fresh young college grads at doing someone else's filing for a couple of years. I'm not sure what to tell you on that score, only that it is likely a point of concern, and you might want to think about ways to finesse your way around it on a cover letter, indicating your interest and willingness to start at the bottom.
posted by tigerbelly at 4:50 AM on April 23, 2008

"Entry-level editor" often seems to mean proofreader or copy editor. It seems like at most places, you start there and work your way up. It weeds out a lot of people who think they can edit, and it helps the ones who do have talent hone their skills before they're the one in charge.

Also, ditto tigerbelly: look for "assistant" in the job title. Even so, where I have worked, you only get there after paying your proofreading/copy-editing dues.
posted by fiercecupcake at 5:55 AM on April 23, 2008

Post yourself on sites like Linked In. Join some of their copy / editing groups. It's free and you can make some good contacts, including Head Hunters that specialize in your field
posted by Mr_Chips at 6:18 AM on April 23, 2008

Don't forget to check the listings at mediabistro.
posted by rtha at 6:25 AM on April 23, 2008

Try Aquent. It's the best contracting agency I've ever worked for, and can help you get the experience you need. They specialize in marketing placements, and are always looking for copy writers. You can likely start by getting quick one-off type jobs and progress to something more regular. Good luck!
posted by Shoggoth at 6:46 AM on April 23, 2008

You don't say anything about advertising or technical writing jobs. I did both of those before I got my current job as an online editor... lots of larger companies have internal marketing departments; these are also great positions for providing related experience and serve as stepping-stones to the more difficult, cherry-picked jobs (whether via networking or just field-related experience that may get you past the current HR screeners who see that you don't have enough work experience in your actual field).

Advertising is great because you build up a portfolio quickly, and billboards are notoriously difficult to write; technical writing jobs show that you can get to the point, succinctly, and write clearly to the end-user. Try broadening your search a little; you can get short-term contracts for these types of jobs much more easily than standard copywriting gigs.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:01 AM on April 23, 2008

I don't know where you live, but I had some luck getting editing work via The Boss Group. They are a temp/placement agency that focuses on employing "creatives", mostly editors and designers. In the DC area, they also work with gov't jobs, but I believe they have offices in a few major metropolitan areas.

I should note that when I began working for Boss, I had ~5 years of experience editing books. I got that job by accepting a job as the receptionist for a publishing company and working my way slowly, painfully up.
posted by juliplease at 9:31 AM on April 23, 2008

Also, try setting up email alerts on Indeed that email you when your search terms (editor + Orange County, e.g.) and location match job openings. Another option is to go back to a postgraduate publishing program. There is a great one at the University of Denver that lasts about a month and could build some knowledge/connections for you--and add to your resume.
posted by mattbucher at 11:23 AM on April 23, 2008

My suggestion is to try freelancing - even if you don't want to freelance full time, doing a little freelancing could help you build some experience while you're doing other work.

Some publishers will have you do an editing test, and if you do well enough, they'll add you to their roster of editorial freelancers. Here is one.

Also, the Editorial Freelancers Association has a really good jobs email list - it costs about $100 for a year's subscription, but it will pay for itself after one job (and hey, it's tax deductible as a business expense!).
posted by acridrabbit at 9:01 PM on April 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

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