The bane of every inexperienced writer’s existence is building a resume. Having a strong resume that lists your written work is so important, and it is a useful tool for several reasons. First, it sends the message that you are serious about your writing. Second, it helps potential “clients” and editors have something to refer to when you try to convince them to publish or hire you to write. Novice writers often make several mistakes when they build a resume, however, because they often don’t tailor their experiences to the business they are writing for or worse—don’t provide any references. The good news is that there is a way to pad your resume honestly, so there is no need to stretch the truth.
Through your writing experiences you probably have written dozens of “published” work that normally wouldn’t even register on your radar. For my own resume, my list of uncredited publications is 10 times as long as my list of credited works. What constitutes an uncredited publication? Think about all the times you’ve written business letters, proposals, ad copy, programs, reviews, article summaries, flyers, book or movie descriptions, concert reviews, and so on. Technically, any time you write for someone else—work or play—that piece, regardless of what kind of writing it is, turns into a potential resume builder.
Resumes for writers, just like other career, need to be tailored, written well, and easy-to-reference visually. It’s easier to build a list of written works before you worry about who you’re trying to impress with your resume, but it’s a bit harder to sift through and remember all you have.
Before you write your resume, have a few brainstorming sessions about what work you’ve done. Separate your work into three categories: uncredited publications, credited publications, and jobs where writing was part of your work. Next, “tag” your work by identifying what type of writing it is: technical, business, fiction, non-fiction, etc. After you have a completed list, systematically build your resume according to the writing job requirements you’re trying to get.
In many cases, written work that is “uncredited” can not be listed individually on a resume for confidentiality reasons, but you can list your work in two other ways—either as your employer, or as a reference. Of course, you’ll need to contact your references beforehand to let them know what you’re doing, but many clients, editors, and publishers will be more than happy to give you a reference for your efforts. Really, a recommendation is the least they can do since you can’t include uncredited assignments in your portfolio or as a single publication. By turning your writing experiences into talking points, even a writer who has never published a short story or article can have a decent resume that will lead to your next publication.