Q. I'm a freelance writer looking for a job as a mid-level editor and I can't even get to the interview stage. Pluses: five years experience, great clips, and excellent internships. Minuses: could use more editing experience and need to relocate. Even when the job description seems tailored to me, I don't get a response. How does one navigate the no-phone-calls-please job market from a distance?
A. Moving from writer to editor mid-career can be tough, but there are a few strategies that might improve your odds.
1. reevaluate your application package
Are you putting your best face forward? Even if you have the exact experience the position calls for, if you don't communicate that in your cover letter, résumé and clippings, you're not going to get the interview. For tips, see previous posts on putting together an application package, resume tips and how to write a cover letter.
2. prove you can do the job
Being a good writer and being a good editor are two different things – each job calls for a different skill set. I think the hesitation hiring managers have with bringing on a writer for an editor's position, is that maybe that writer will continue to write and not edit. The worst editors are frustrated writers who change copy heavily, inserting their own voice and rewriting the story. Prove you're not one of them by submitting an example of your editing. Other ways to show you can wear an editor's cap: submit a critique of the magazine you're applying to, hand in on-target story ideas, highlight your editing accomplishments in your résumé and cover letter, and resist the urge to send in more than three to five clippings.
3. keep networking
Continue to freelance and make connections in the industry, and make sure everyone knows you're looking to land a full-time editing gig. Knowing someone isn't likely to land you the job, but it will mean people will probably spend a little longer looking at your application. And they may even take a chance on interviewing you if they're familiar with your work ethic.
Beyond that, be sure to mention in your cover letter your willingness to relocate, and obey the no-phone-calls-please rule. It's acceptable to follow up once with an email to ensure your package arrived, but if you call, that will just piss them off and prove that you can't follow instructions.
Do you have a question about your editorial career? Email me at vangerwen[at]gmail[dot]com.
Corinna vanGerwen is a freelance editor and writer. She has worked as senior editor at Style at Home, senior design editor at Cottage Life and is the former Canadian Director of Ed2010. She has also held the position of operations manager at a boutique PR agency, where she handled strategic planning and daily operations.