How Writers Should Respond to Job Ads By Angela Hoy

While many companies are happy to have their market listings and job ads posted on WritersWeekly, I receive frequent complaints about how our readers respond to those ads. I want to address this ongoing problem here today.

Here is an email I received from a publisher last week:


I want to thank you again for posting that ad for me. It looks like I already have a lot of potential new writers.

I did want to make note of something that you might want to consider for helpful hints post on your site. It is really important that people read the ads they are responding to. While I had many people who either answered appropriately or at least contacted me with questions regarding the posting, several people are just sending resumes and unrelated clips that have no bearing at all on the type of work described in the ad.

I’m also getting a lot of people asking what the compensation is – even though it’s posted on the job listing.

It seems some writers see an ad for “freelance writer” but don’t bother to read the entire ad. They then proceed to blindly email their resume and clips to the publication. This is, of course, a huge waste of time, not only for the publisher, but for the writer as well.

First, if you’re going to take the time to contact a publication, and if you don’t read their ad, there may be something in that ad that, had you addressed it, might have landed you the job. For example, let’s say you’re a business writer specializing in human resources (HR). ABC Company might run an ad in WritersWeekly seeking business writers. There may be a small note in the ad that states “human resources experience a plus.”

If you didn’t read the entire ad and include information in your query highlighting your HR experience, you are not going to get that job. But, if you had read the entire ad, you probably would get the job because the vast majority of business writers applying for that job will not have your HR experience.

Also, when publishers/editors receive an individualized query, they know the writer took the time to single them out, one-on-one. Publishers and editors are perfectly justified in deleting general resumes that were shot out on the Internet with no note addressing the writer’s interest in and qualifications for that specific job. Also, asking questions about the job (i.e. how much the company pays) when the answers to those questions are already featured in the job is a huge signal to the publisher that the ad was not read.

If a publication offers writer’s guidelines, it is imperative that you read those before sending a query and your resume.

These rather simple steps will increase the number of assignments you receive, provided your query letter and resume are professional, contain no errors, and target a specific job opening or market listing.

Sending out mass emails hoping for a bite can take hours and, naturally, usually results in no job offers at all.