I was surprised at how willing the agency was to give me tips to expand my own job search, outside of their services. Suzanne, a friendly blond-haired woman at the agency who must have taken her caffeine intravenously that morning, told me about Indeed.com, which pulls listings from many different job search websites and lists them together (monster, careerbuilder and writejobs, to name a few). This is going to save me a lot of time, since I won't have to jump from one site to the next, like I'd been doing. I've already found a good number of editing/writing jobs listed on Indeed that I'm going to apply for.
The agency also suggested I consider PR (maybe) and marketing (not a chance). While I think of PR positions as those always having to deal directly with the press - giving interviews and speaking key phrases the organization wants pushed - she said that many are 100% writing. She also suggested I find a temp agency in NYC. By temping I could add some experience to my resume and establish connections. Great suggestions.
Writing the 'Writing Resume'
There are two difficult things about a writing resume: 1) I can't find an example of one anywhere online (I suppose they assume a writer has the skills to create one for themselves without any samples. But hey-I want an example!) and 2) there's even more pressure to make it good, as the resume itself is an example of your abilities. In my resume, I tried to highlight facts that proved I was a good writer - like the fact that several of my articles ran front-page in all newspaper editions. I made a big improvement to my resume by following some advice I found online: don't just list the duties you had in prior jobs; also list the purpose or outcome of your duties. For example, I was the editor of a newsletter. I had:
"Selected newsworthy organization events for publication"
I made it better by adding:
"Selected newsworthy organizational events that would best convey the organization's heart and mission"
I also took advice about using specifics to add substance to duties. For my business experience, I changed: "Answered client questions and formatted outgoing letters" To: "Managed accounts for agency's local VIP clientele, answered customer questions and formatted outgoing letters about claims and coverage in clear, simple language with regard for future legal implications."
As I'm applying for writing and editing jobs, I tried to emphasize anything that had to do with writing, even the business letters I sent out every day when I worked in insurance. But enough about resumes. It's time to draft a cover letter.