Article by Wendy McCance
I would like to share a story with you. Working as a writer and social media manager, I have worked with quite a few clients. I was able to get these opportunities by being inventive. Since starting my career in writing, I have tried different techniques to get new clients. I have emailed pitches, signed up for temp assignments and even filled out resumes. Here is the shocker, 80% of my clients come from LinkedIn, 10% come from people who reached out to me because they saw my work and 10% come from referrals. I have never gotten one job opportunity from a temp agency or by filling out a resume for a job posting.
Want to know something else? I know why! My credentials on paper look unimpressive, but if you search for me on the internet, I shine. Sure I have clips of my work and referrals I can hand a potential client. What I don’t have is a Bachelor’s Degree. I have an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts. I don’t have experience working in an office as a writer or social media professional, but I have worked with numerous companies as a freelancer.
The problem with going the traditional route of handing over a resume comes down to the quick scan of a hiring manager. No degree in the field of their choice and no individual companies listed under work experience and the resume is tossed. I realized this early on and didn’t put much effort into job boards after I became aware that it wasn’t the best way for me to proceed.
I believe that when writers are starting out, many focus too hard on the online sites offering jobs to writers instead of thinking of a creative way to personally brand themselves.
Over the last year, I have had three offers to work full-time at different companies all wanting me to leave freelancing behind and work exclusively for them. I never sent a resume to any of these companies. How did I happen to get these offers? I will use a story from one offer to explain. This particular company is well-known in Michigan. They sell high-end products to consumers. I would have made over $60,000 a year. I turned the offer down because I had a steady stream of clients, loved what I was doing and couldn’t imagine giving up what I worked so hard to build.
A little more history on this offer. I had written an inmail through LinkedIn to the Vice President of Marketing asking if they needed a freelance writer/social media manager. I was shocked when they wrote back and said they actually did. An appointment was scheduled and when I went in to talk with them, we just clicked. We were bouncing ideas off of each other and the whole meeting felt very natural as though I had known this person for years. It was flattering to get the offer, but I just knew it wasn’t the right move for me.
So, you are probably wondering how I am able to get people to consider working with me if those same people would have turned me down had I just handed over a resume. The answer is I have built up my image. I am bold and will write to people and ask for the job. Many of these people will get curious and look me up to see who I am. I make it easier for them by providing a link to my blog. From there, you can also see what social media platforms I use and check out those as well. The fact that I write from LinkedIn means that they will first naturally go to my LinkedIn profile. My profile is filled out completely with experience, a resume (which is fine except for the lack of a Bachelor’s Degree), a picture and links to my work.
If you look me up in a Google search, I have several pages of information that pops up. As far as my presence on the internet looks, I am relevant because I am everywhere. I can get much further using the technique of writing to a person directly because curiosity drives them to dig a little further and then they can see what I truly have to offer. It’s like you are given that one in a million chance to get in front of the bigwig and give the 2 minute pitch on why they should hire you. You don’t get that opportunity when you send in a resume. A quick glance for the right accreditation or keywords and you are passed over if it’s not there or missed.
This way of doing business is full of so many holes. Unfortunately, many hiring managers will miss out on star performers because they don’t have enough time or maybe patience to look a little further into each candidates background. This might not be true for every career, but if you need a writer, you should look and see what their clips look like even if their resume lacks the college degree they are looking for. If you need a person to manage your social media (for example), then by all means you should look and see what that person is doing with their own social media platforms.
Many of the best known writers didn’t get a college degree. Can you imagine Harper Lee, Charles Dickens, Jack Kerouac or Mark Twain getting denied a writing position? I am also in disbelief when I see that my social media platforms completely outshine companies that market themselves as Advertising Agencies, PR Firms or Marketing Companies. Many of these companies have so little posted, it looks like they are out of business. Why would I want to hire them to help me with my business if they can’t prove they can take care of their own? These are the same companies that are turning me away to handle their social media if I hand in a resume?
The bottom line is to look for ways to work outside the box. You grow up hearing you will never get anywhere without a college degree. The pressure increases when you fear that you need to go back to school for another degree more in line with your ultimate chosen profession. People are going bankrupt paying of college loans to learn in school what many times they already have knowledge of.
You can have any career you want. Unless you are looking to be a doctor, lawyer or other profession where college is an absolute must, there are ways to sidestep the traditional route. You just have to be inventive and willing to take a chance by putting yourself out there.
What about you? Have you been able to establish a career without going to school? Were you able to get a dream job without sending in a resume? Leave a comment and share your experience. Let’s get the conversation started.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
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