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Finding copywriting jobs – advice from a recruiter

CJ Walker, technical writer and founder of recruitment agency Firehead, gives her tips on how to jump through the hiring hoops and get hired as a copywriter.

I recently advertised for three freelance copywriters for a big client and received more than 1500 applications.

I knew exactly what I was looking for.

I also knew I’d be inundated with applications, and that the applicants, despite my specific instructions, would come from all sorts of backgrounds with varying levels of knowledge and experience.

I set up systems to filter and categorise the incoming onslaught. I thought I had it all covered. I should have known better.

Why does half of everyone think they’re qualified to submit for copywriting jobs?

It’s a tough assignment for a recruiter because while there is a huge market for good writers, finding them is not that simple.

Who can write good copy? Is it education or experience that help? Or a specialism? What constitutes “good copy” anyway? How do you put automated filters on that?

Finding a copywriter is a more messy business than most. Often it’s about finding the best fit for a particular job. Assessing if someone is right for a writing job is subjective, at best. But it requires some science, too. And a lot – A LOT – of context. You have to have a feel for what is going to work in each particular circumstance.

Going through a reputable source such as a recruiter who specialises in content, can take some of the pain away. Not just because they are specialists, but also because niche agencies are often set up by people who have industry experience themselves – look for them because they already understand what you do and are focused on making the right match, not just any match.

Recruiting creatives is a unique process, and I mean unique for every hire. It’s not like the filter-driven recruiting of more ‘objective’ industries like STEM. That’s why I like it. I like getting to know creative people during the process – you’ve enriched my work and my life with your creativity and stories.

8 ways to make life easier for recruiters

As a recruiter in the field of digital communications, if I were to ask you to help me, these would be my top eight requests

  1. Invest in a website with a well-rounded portfolio
  2. Don’t go full-creative to glitz up your CV (it’s not the colour and images that are going to sell you)
  3. Stay strictly on point – don’t over-respond
  4. Follow the instructions on the application and address any requirements
  5. Be specific – provide some numbers to back up your claims
  6. Don’t ask for feedback on your writing or CV
  7. Never ask for unpaid work experience
  8. Don’t spend too much on training – get experience instead

Transgressing any of these will just make the recruiter’s, and the hirer’s, job unnecessarily time-consuming and frustrating – and is a surefire way not to get hired.

If you can treat your application with the respect, care and attention you would a client brief, you’ll make your recruiter/hirer happy. More importantly, you’ll be far more likely to avoid the despair of the rejection pile.

CJ Walker is the founder of Firehead.net, a European-wide specialist recruiter in digital communications. Firehead sponsored The Copywriting Conference 2017.

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