So you want to be a writer? Congratulations! You’ve picked the best career path for someone who has a lot of passion and not a lot of practical talent.
Ahem I mean, you’ve chosen a wonderfully creative outlet that involves originality, autonomy, and ample amounts of mulling over content in coffee shops.
But before you can write articles on the internet or sell your first novel, you need one thing: A writing resume.
Of course, it needs to be well thought-out and professional looking but it also needs to be an accurate representation of your skills and experience (can you tell I’m speaking from experience?).
So before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how to craft a killer writing resume (not actually what we’re going to talk about), let me save some time by listing all 13 things that should never show up on one:
|1. Avoid including irrelevant personal information (age, marital status).|
|2. Skip including a photograph on your writing resume.|
|3. Omit details of hobbies and interests unless job-related.|
|4. Exclude irrelevant or outdated job experiences.|
|5. Don’t provide references directly on the resume.|
|6. Steer clear of including salary history or expectations.|
|7. Skip listing generic skills (e.g., Microsoft Office).|
|8. Avoid adding high school education if you have a college degree.|
|9. Omit unrelated certifications or training.|
|10. Leave out overly personal or controversial social media links.|
1. A Picture Of Yourself
A picture of yourself is not necessary.
Yes, we know it can help to put a face to your name, but it’s not necessary. Most people will be able to recognize you from your resume anyway!
If you do decide to include a picture of yourself on your resume (or even in your portfolio), please make sure that it is professional and up-to-date.
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2. Your Age (Unless You’re Under 18)
If you’re under 18, your age is relevant.
If you’re over 18, it’s not. That’s why this piece of information should never be on a resume for an adult writer it won’t help the person reading it understand how skilled or experienced you are in any way whatsoever.
If you’re wondering why we put the age thing in here at all: If a publisher or editor is interested in hiring someone who’s more than 45 years old, they can easily find out how old they are by looking at their birth certificate (or just ask them).
3. A Bio That Reads Like A Cover Letter
The bio section of your resume is a great place to slip in some personality, but it should always be short and to the point.
Don’t waste space with unnecessary details like where you went to high school or what your favorite hobby is (unless these are relevant to the job). Keep it objective, written in the third person, and use present tense verbs for writing about yourself. Here’s an example:
“I am an experienced writer with excellent research skills who loves working on teams.”
This sentence doesn’t give away much about what I’m capable of as a writer or how I would fit into a company, but it does highlight some of my strengths namely my ability to work well with others and my dedication to my craft.
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4. More Than One Or Two Fonts
There’s no need to use more than two fonts on your resume. If you’re going for artistic flair and variety, it’s best to keep the styles similar. For example, you can use one serif font (think Times New Roman) and one sans-serif font (think Arial).
A small number of fonts is easier to read overall than a lot of different ones.
Consistent looks make it easier for the reader’s eyes to follow across the page or screen without getting lost in all those different font choices.
Easy-to-read fonts are essential if someone needs to print out your resume so they can take it with them–especially if they don’t have access to large screens or computers with high resolutions.
5. The Words “References Available Upon Request” (Like, Duh)
Unless you are applying for a job that requires references and has requested them, do not include a reference list on your resume. The same goes for education or work experience: if it’s not currently relevant to the position you’re applying for, then don’t list it.
Also worth noting: if you have no experience or education (or even any professional history at all), don’t feel like you need to include information about where and when you went to school or what jobs/volunteer experiences were part of your life before this one.
A hiring manager will be able to figure out which years are missing from your employment history fairly quickly;
They’ll also realize that someone who’s had more than five years’ worth of work experience is probably going to be overqualified for most entry-level writing positions anyway.
6. “Objective” Or “Career Goal” (It’s Assumed)
The objective or career goal section of a writing resume is pretty self-explanatory: it allows you to state what you want to do, without having to explain why.
This is an important piece of information because it helps the hiring manager understand whether or not you’re a good fit for the position.
For example: if you write, “I am seeking a career as an editor at Village Magazine,” this tells me that your goal is editing for our publication!
If I were on your interview panel and saw this line in your cover letter (and knew nothing else about you), I would immediately think that one of the reasons I liked you was because we were both looking for another editor.
Even though we may have different styles and work ethics and different expectations about how many hours per week should be expected from editors we could probably find common ground over our shared interest in working together.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my years working with writers, it’s this: people who have worked hard at their craft are often very dedicated to seeing their art form flourish in whatever way they can manage while still making time for their own goals and aspirations.
In other words, they’re motivated by passion rather than paycheck alone and when someone has such drive within themselves already expressed through their writing samples then those elements come across loud and proud behind every word typed onto paper!
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7. Your GPA, Class Rank, Or SAT Scores (Again, It’s Assumed)
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
Your GPA, class rank, and SAT scores.
If you’re applying for your first writing job after college, it’s assumed that you have them and if we reverse-engineer this assumption for a moment, what do we come up with? We know that anyone who does not have these qualifications isn’t going to apply.
This means that if your resume includes those numbers (and especially if it has a 4.0), then there is no point in putting anything else on your resume because it will only be seen by people who are not interested in hiring you anyway.
8. A List Of Your Key Skills With No Evidence That You Even Have Those Skills
Just because you have a skill doesn’t mean it’s relevant. Just because you have a writing degree, doesn’t mean that makes you a good writer.
If the employer is looking for someone who has experience in marketing, don’t list your English degree as evidence of your skills unless there’s something about your work history or resume to support this claim.
I’ve seen many resumes from writers who didn’t provide any references from their previous employers/clients on why they were so good at their jobs. When asked about these skills and experiences, the writer would say “Oh yeah, I’m great at X.”
This is not an acceptable response when trying to prove yourself as someone who knows how to do something well enough that others would hire them for it (and pay them).
9. A Creative Format (Or Maybe Not)
When you’re creating your resume, don’t get so darn creative that it becomes difficult to read.
The hiring manager should be able to easily understand what you’ve done and the impact of your work, without needing to decipher hidden messages or pull out a decoder ring. This is especially important if the job requires writing skills.
If you do decide that a creative format is necessary for whatever reason (for instance, if you have a background in graphic design), then keep these things in mind:
If it’s not relevant to the job description/requirements, leave out the bells and whistles! Don’t make people scratch their heads trying desperately hard to figure out what exactly it is that makes an applicant “creative.”
A few words like “dynamic,” “sophisticated,” or “agent” aren’t going to cut it here you’ll need examples of how this creativity manifested itself at previous jobs or internships.
It’s also probably best not even use those terms unless they’re directly applicable (for example, if working as an agent required some degree of creativity).
10. Unprofessional Email Addresses Such As Partygal7@Hotmail.Com
By now you know that email addresses that are not professional will raise red flags. If your resume includes an unprofessional email address, it’s unlikely that anyone will take you seriously.
And while your domain may seem like a convenient choice, investing in a custom domain shows dedication to your career and can help you stand out from other candidates.
How do I know if my email address is too casual?
- If the address ends with @gmail or @yahoo or some other free provider (think: firstname.lastname@example.org) it’s best to steer clear of those domains for professional correspondence.
- If my resume says “email@example.com” then I want employers who are looking at my resume to be able to find my contact information easily and quickly by knowing just how simple it is for them!
11. Spelling And Grammar Mistakes (Of Course!)
You might think that spelling and grammar mistakes are a no-brainer, but they’re one of the most common errors on resumes and they can make you look like an amateur.
To avoid this, spend some time doing a spell check (or better yet, get someone else to do it), then run your resume through Grammarly or another grammar checking tool.
Once you’ve done all that, read your resume out loud to yourself you may find some other mistakes that way! Don’t forget to ask someone else to check it over as well a fresh set of eyes is always good for catching things you may have missed.
Finally, take time before submitting it online to proofread it once more for typos and formatting errors the last thing anyone wants is an unprofessional-looking document in their inbox.
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12. Unaligned Text And Formatting Inconsistencies
Inconsistent formatting is a major red flag, as it indicates that you may not be detail-oriented or have difficulty following instructions. That’s why it’s important to use standard formatting on your resume and follow the same format throughout. Here are some tips:
Use a consistent font family, for example, Verdana or Arial, and font size (12 pt). The font should match the rest of your application documents and should be easy to read at a glance.
Choose one color scheme for bullets or underlines and stick with it throughout your document(s). You don’t want different colors distracting from your qualifications!
Avoid using all caps when writing text; it makes everything look larger than life. Instead, vary sentence length so that no single line is longer than three lines without any justification (left-aligned text).
Also, avoid justifying the end of columns; instead, leave them ragged right for more natural-looking paragraphs.*
13. Dates That Don’t Match Up Or Are Inaccurate/Vague
This is a biggie. It’s easy to get dates wrong, especially if you’ve been in your current position for a while and it’s hard to remember what day you started every time.
But if you’re not sure, just do some research (on your company computer) or ask someone who might be able to help you out (like your boss). Dates should be precise and relevant to the position. For example:
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As you can see, some things are unnecessary to include on your writing resume. Don’t feel like you need to include irrelevant details just because they might make it sound like you have more experience than you do or even if it’s not relevant at all!
The point is to keep everything as concise as possible so employers don’t get bored by too much information. And remember: Just because these things aren’t important now doesn’t mean they won’t be later!
If a writer has spent time working for other companies in this industry before applying for their first job here at XYZ Company, then those experiences should be included.
You may also want to include a link to any websites or social media accounts where potential clients can find samples of your writing work (if there are any).
Here are some additional resources that provide insights on what not to include in a resume:
What Should Not Be Included in a Resume Short Description: Discover essential tips on what to avoid including in your resume to create a professional and effective document.
15 Things You Should Never Include in Your Resume Short Description: Learn about common resume mistakes to avoid, ensuring your resume stands out for the right reasons.
What Not to Put on a Resume Short Description: Gain insights into the elements you should exclude from your resume to present your qualifications clearly and concisely.
What are some common mistakes to avoid when writing a resume?
Avoid including personal information such as age, marital status, and photographs. Stick to professional details that are relevant to the job.
Is it advisable to include hobbies and interests in a resume?
While hobbies can offer insight into your personality, they should be relevant to the job or demonstrate valuable skills.
Should I include every job I’ve ever had in my resume?
Focus on showcasing roles and experiences that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. Irrelevant or outdated positions can be omitted.
Can I include references directly on my resume?
It’s better to provide references upon request rather than including them on your resume. Create a separate reference list to share when needed.
What about using a creative resume design?
While creativity can make your resume stand out, ensure it’s still easy to read and professional. Balance aesthetics with clarity.
Costantine Edward is a digital marketing expert, freelance writer, and entrepreneur who helps people attain financial freedom. I’ve been working in marketing since I was 18 years old and have managed to build a successful career doing what I love.