Landing a freelance writing job very different from landing a full-time job.
As I’ve navigated the “career change seas”, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with extremely helpful recruiters, career consultants, and other professionals. All of these folks have provided invaluable tips, which I will be sharing in future articles.
Today, I want to share a few pointers about prepping a special resume for contractor work. I love being a contractor, and my experience working as a contract copywriter has enabled me to have many different work experiences that would have otherwise been out of my grasp. I strongly encourage aspiring writers with clinical backgrounds to consider contract work if their lifestyle permits them to do so. The reason is that many staffing agencies have a continual need for writers who have worked in healthcare, and you will sometimes have a leg up on gigs for healthcare clients that other copywriters might not have.
Assuming you want to write…
For the sake of argument, I’ll assume that you’re hoping to become a writer. When you’re first starting to write, the hardest part is trying to establish yourself as a writing professional, in addition to a clinician. In fact, you might even like to eventually be seen as a writer (or sales rep, or product manager, or whatever your goal is) instead of a clinician.
If you’re coming from a clinical field, with zero writing assignments to your name, offer to write content for a friend, family member, or colleague. If someone you know needs a blog post, write it for free in exchange for a testimonial or a byline.
Many clinic owners prefer blog posts to be ghostwritten (written under their name, rather than yours), so be sure to ask for a testimonial, if this is the case. Many publications gladly accept guest posts, and will happily supply a byline for you. The site I helped found, NewGradPhysicalTherapy.com (along with its sister sites, NewGradOccupationalTherapy.com and NewGradOptometry.com), enable clinicians of various backgrounds to share their experiences about life as a clinician, unusual career moves, how to write a cover letter, and everything else you can imagine. All you have to do is submit an article idea and you’ll likely be able to write the post (if your content will be relevant to the sites’ intended audience members, that is).
So, basically, if you have no work to show for your name, step back and publish a few articles for free; it’s an investment in your new career. Think of it as doing clinical rotations all over again. Don’t worry, eventually you’ll get paid for it!
Once you have a few articles under your belt, you’ll want to tweak your resume to reflect this. If you’re hoping to get a full-time job, we’ll cover that type of resume in another article. But for a contractor job, you really only need a few well-written pieces to start qualifying for work.
A good contractor resume (or freelancer resume) for the clinical writer will contain the following elements:
Sure, you might be a physician’s assistant, physical therapist, or nurse, but you’re going through a staffing agency and trying to get work as a writer. List that first. Your clinical license/degree is icing on the cake. An appropriate title would be:
Jane Doe, RN
Copywriter | Copyeditor | Nurse
Think of this section as a way to tell your potential freelance/contract clients about how you will solve their problems. If you’re a nurse with neonatal experience, and you aspire to write marketing content, say so!
“Accomplished, adaptable, and reliable clinical copywriter with 8 years of neonatal nursing experience is seeking contract writing and editing roles that focus on patient education and healthcare marketing.” As a recruiter scans the top of your resume, the first thing they will see is that you’re accomplished (you’ve actually done something), you’re adaptable (only put this if it’s true…but adaptability is key for a contractor!), you’ve worked in healthcare, and you’re looking for contract roles (vs full time). You can solve clients’ needs by providing writing and editing services. Again, add strategy if that’s your jam. The summary section is where you get to truly shine, so spend some time on it.
This section will discuss what you’re good at. It’s what you want to do (presumably, instead of clinical care). You can list them out in a bullet point form, as shown below:
- graphic design
- content strategy
If you don’t want to use the space on bullets, you can also write a paragraph. This might be more effective if you’ve only got one preferred skill, such as copywriting. You might have no desire to edit others’ work, so you could say something like:
“Skills include creating long-form, headlines, copywriting, and calls-to-action.”
Here’s another place where you can shine. If you wrote a blog for your former boss’ clinic, great! Make sure to put this on your resume, adding as much specificity as you can. I usually list my clients in alphabetical order, as some of my contracts are very short, and others are quite long. It makes it look more organized. When you’re first starting out, you might just want to use chronological order. You can also opt to call this section “Projects”.
- Roy’s PT Clinic: “Name of Article That You Wrote” – 1/24/2017. Ghostwriter for owner.
- Small Optometry Clinic: New Patient FAQs Sheet” – 12/14/2016. Wrote all copy and worked alongside clinic’s owner to select appropriate graphics and images.
You can see how each client/project has its own story and makes it easy for a recruiter to see exactly what your role was.
Additional Work Experience:
Here’s where you can put the rest of your work experience. Truthfully, this section will shrink in time. When you’re first starting out, you can put up to 3 bullet points per job you’ve held, depending on how much you’ve bounced around. You don’t want to go past 2 pages, if you can avoid it, so try to keep your non writing related work experience to a minimum, while still highlighting the fact that you did, in fact, have a career before you made this switch 🙂
Try to word your experience from these jobs in a way that is
Local Hospital: Per Diem RN. (December, 2012 – January, 2017)
- Demonstrated flexibility by traveling to multiple hospital sites and working on various floors, treating a variety of patients.
- Established strong relationships with other medical professionals, improving communication amongst departments and streamlining patient care.
- Created guidelines for new per diems, including clear written instructions for mentorship program.
See what I’m doing there? Recruiters and their clients rarely care if you’ve worked with a certain type of wound care salve. If they do, you’ll know it from the job posting, and you can mention it if it’s relevant. If not, stick to highlighting your strong interpersonal skills and ability to be flexible and communicate with others.
As with a traditional resume, this section can go at the end. If you won any awards, be sure to list them. it’s also a good idea to list your clinical licenses and numbers, as this enables recruiters and clients to see that you’re actually a legitimately licensed clinician, not some snake-oil selling charlatan!
Want an example of my resume? No problem! Just contact me and I’ll send it right over 🙂 Thanks for reading. Feedback on this post is always welcome!