Navigating the world of internet publishing is tricky business, especially when you’re looking for a job. Language and trends change so quickly on the internet, and every day there’s a massive amount of information to absorb. So where do you even begin when trying to land a copyediting job for an internet publication?
Emmy Favilla and Megan Paolone, copy chief and deputy copy chief of BuzzFeed, shed a little light on the important skills, tools, and steps to keep in mind when looking for internet opportunities.
1) Be a strong copyeditor. Favilla stressed that the copy test is the most important part of a candidate’s prospects. She noted that often before she’s even conducted an interview she will administer a test: “If it turns out you don’t know your than from your then, you’re not going to get the interview.”
To increase your chances of acing the test, especially if you don’t have much experience, find opportunities to volunteer for an organization or local publication, help friends of colleagues with editing, or enroll in copyediting classes or certification programs.
And never send back your copy test — whether it’s an in-person test or online — saying that it was “so easy.” Be humble!
2) Start networking! But do it genuinely. “Networking is just socializing with people who you want to work with,” Paolone said. So the trick is to be yourself and be genuine in your approach. Get to know contacts beyond getting an “in” to a company or organization. And be honestly curious about them and the work they do.
Use tools like LinkedIn, Meetup, local professional groups, and Twitter to find connections. “Twitter is really important,” Favilla said, “because you can make connections and be engaged in conversations with people you admire and brands you’d like to work with. It’s easier than ever to make a cohesive online presence for yourself.”
3) Personal branding is a must. Think about your social media and how you look to someone who might hire you. Follow editors and organizations that you admire and emulate their style, if it applies. Show what you’re passionate about, but keep your content about 70 percent professional and 30 percent personal.
4) Resumes and cover letters are your first impression. Update your resume to match the job you’re applying for, and generally keep it to one page of relevant experience. Essentially, the resume should provide a cohesive image that shows why you’re applying for the job — most hiring managers take all of 10 to 30 seconds to scan a resume, so you have to make an impression fast!
Cover letters are your opportunity to let who you really are speak. Your cover letter shouldn’t be a copy of your resume, it should show why you’re the right person for the position and make the hiring manager want to meet you, not toss you to the discard pile.
5) Before the interview, do your research. Have good questions to ask, know specifics about the company beyond what’s on the homepage, and be ready to answer questions about your strengths and back them up anecdotally.
6) No typos. This is a non-starter. Especially for copyediting jobs. You want to make sure all material you submit for the position is thoroughly proofread, consistent and accurate. Otherwise, that too sends you straight to the discard pile.
7) Send thank you notes! Whether they’re email follow-ups within 24 hours of an interview or a handwritten note, thank you notes are a must.