An American Editor

April 14, 2023

On the Basics: Résumés for today’s communications pros

Filed under: Editorial Matters — An American Editor @ 11:32 am
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© Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Owner

An American Editor

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I wrote about “Résumés for Today’s Freelance Journalists” for a recent presentation about that topic for the Freelance Community of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and it occurred to me that the tips apply to other colleagues as well. I hope this version is helpful to An American Editor subscribers.

Paper résumés are almost a thing of the past these days (although they can still be needed). Most of today’s résumés will be sent and seen as digital versions, which have their own requirements. Luckily, you can use the same content for both that traditional version and today’s digital one. The difference is less in what you present than in how you get it into the hands of potential clients.

Some standard rules still apply: Keep a résumé to what would be two single-spaced pages if it were printed out. Use the active voice. Leave out family information and non-relevant hobbies. Send your résumé as an attachment only if asked to do so; messages with unsolicited résumés are usually discarded as potential spam or viruses. Don’t include salary or project fee information. Update it regularly and keep a current version on hand/on your computer(s) so you don’t have to panic about whether it’s ready to be seen by prospective clients or employers, or miss an opportunity because it takes too long to do an update. 

Organizing your info

The first step in creating, revamping or updating your résumé — whether for print or digital use — is organization.

Traditional résumés for full-time positions are organized chronologically, often starting with education information (at least for recent graduates), followed by experience, with your current or most-recent job first.

A freelancer’s résumé starts by presenting assignments and projects, even if some were done quite a while ago or when you were (or are) in school. Recent students usually put their education info first. For people with substantial experience, education is less important and can be moved to the end.

Do not include family/personal information and only include hobbies if you write, edit, proofread, index, photograph or broadcast, etc., about them. This goes for both freelance and in-house searches.

Pro bono projects can contribute to your image as someone with skills and experience in various fields or topics, especially if you’re new to whatever editorial/publishing work you do or want to do. If you’re aiming for traditional in-house work, label those as pro bono, volunteer or community service. If you’re a freelancer, you can include such projects as part of your experience or freelance business section because no one has to know whether (or how much) you’re paid for them; the work itself is what matters.

You probably don’t need to include a street address, although it’s a good idea to keep a city and state for potential clients who might want you to handle onsite assignments — that’s probably more important for journalists, who are expected to cover events in person, but could relate to other types of work and projects. Nowadays, many colleagues leave phone numbers out of their résumés, using only e-mail addresses and social media handles as their contact information.

You still will include any full-time or in-house work, and those should still start with the most-recent position. Include links to published work (as long as you have client permission to do so) and the testimonial or portfolio section of your website.

Don’t forget to include membership(s) in professional associations, especially if you’re active and visible in one or more of those groups. And do include any work-related training you’ve taken. Both can go under a Professional Development heading. Your teaching and speaking experience, if any, should also be featured.

The process

  1. Create your résumé in Word.
  2. Keep the design simple: All-black “ink,” no more than two typefaces/fonts (and those should be common ones —good choices are Georgia or Cambria for serif, and Verdana or Calibri for sans-serif), ideally at 12 pt but no smaller than 9 pt; no photo; no boxes, shading, rules (lines between items) or other fancy graphics other than italics and — for headings — bold type.
  3. Include your e-mail address; website URL and blog URL if you have one; and social media connections: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — whatever is current and professional.
  4. Skip the traditional Objective; it’s assumed that you’re looking for a job or for freelance gigs. Start with a list of skills you offer and software you can use.
  5. To include freelance work when aiming for in-house positions, group those projects under their own heading — the name of your freelance business or, if you haven’t come up with a business name, something like “Freelance/Independent Projects.”
  6. Bullet out projects in list form and active voice, by client or outlet. Rather than “Assigned to cover …,” use “Covered X beat with stories about Event X, Person Y, Issue Z, for Newspaper Name,” etc., or just “Wrote/Presented … for Publication A/Outlet B.” You can use general categories, such as news, feature, profile, etc., but do include names of subjects if your work includes projects for or about celebrities!
  7. Ask a colleague to proofread your résumé — it’s hard to check our own work to perfection because we know what we meant to say or have tinkered with a résumé so much that we could misspell our own names or those of our clients or employers (trust me; that happens). Having another pair of eyes on your résumé will ensure you haven’t made any blunders that will disqualify you from getting freelance gigs or new jobs — especially if you’re an editor or proofreader!

Keep the Word version handy so you can revise the résumé as needed for specific opportunities, usually by rearranging the sequence in your project list to put the most-relevant projects first, and to add new projects as you complete them.

Use cover letters to go into why you’re a great pick for specific assignments or listings by parroting the language of opportunities you’re responding to with how you fit those requirements, but keep them short — no more than a single-spaced page.

Getting to digital

The digital aspect comes in once you organize your information.

• Create and keep your résumé as a Word document but use the Print function to save it as a PDF, and send the PDF version to prospective clients on request. A Word document can be changed by whoever receives it; a PDF is safer from such interference. The PDF also retains formatting and fonts if you’ve used something that clients might not have.

• Post, or announce the availability of, the PDF to all of your social media outlets.

• If you have a blog and/or website (and make creating one your priority if you don’t!), post the PDF there and describe your freelance business or professional background in more detail. Focus on what makes your work important or interesting, your experience and skills, what you’d like to cover, how you can help a prospective client, etc.

• Where possible, post the PDF to your professional association profiles and membership directories. If résumés aren’t allowed, use the content of yours to flesh out your directory profile(s) and, again, include links to published work (as long as you have client permission to do so).

Back to business cards

And by the way, especially now that in-person events are coming back: Business cards are still important! They could function as mini-résumés and will always have value as introductions. You can save yours on your phone to exchange with the more digital-savvy, but keep a stash of the paper version in every pocket, handbag, briefcase, camera case, etc. You never know when or where you might meet someone who would ask for your card. Some of colleagues’ best connections and freelance clients have come about from offering a business card at a party, in the grocery store line, at a highway gas station, on a plane or train …

For a previous post about business cards and résumés, check out:

Do you have any additional tips for effective versions and uses of résumés? Feel free to comment!

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter ( is an award-winning provider of editorial and publishing services for publications, independent authors, publishers, associations, nonprofits and companies worldwide, and the editor-in-chief and owner ofAn American Editor. She created the annualCommunication Central Be a Better Freelancer® conference for colleagues (, now co-hosted with the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors ( and sponsored by An American Editor. She also owns A Flair for Writing (, which helps independent authors produce and publish their books. She can be reached at or


May 11, 2019

Check out the topic and speaker lineup for 2019 Be a Better Freelancer® conference

By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, AAE and Communication Central owner

For those who have been eagerly awaiting information about Gateway to Success, Communication Central‘s 14th annual Be a Better Freelancer® conference, you need wait no longer! Here’s the lineup of topics and presenters; specific days and times will be announced soon, along with detailed speaker bios.

The conference will be held October 11–13, 2019, at the Chase-Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, MO. Hotel rooms are $150/night (plus taxes) and are comfortably shareable. (The conference rate is in place starting on Thursday, October 10.) The conference runs from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Central time on Friday and Saturday, October 11 and 12, with continental breakfast and lunch included, and 9 a.m.–12 noon on Sunday, October 13, with coffee and tea provided. Dinner outings at nearby restaurants will be organized for the group, but are not included in registration.

This year’s conference is cosponsored by the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE) — an exciting first-time partnership. To register, go to or

The central location should be appealing for colleagues who have been interested in previous Communication Central events but found the East Coast location a challenge. We look forward to welcoming you to the Gateway City and an exciting panoply of resources to make your freelance efforts more productive and profitable!

Friday, October 11, and Saturday, October 12, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
• You Oughta be in Visuals: Make Your Social Sizzle to Fire Up Your Freelancing, Walt Jaschek
Most of us are “word people,” but nowadays, it’s more and more important to promote a freelance business through visual media as well as the standard networking, social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.), website, press releases and other traditional efforts. Video content is expected to make up 80 percent of all Internet traffic by the end of 2019. Learn how to use video, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, podcasting and similar visual outlets to get the word out about your skills and services. This lively session will get you excited about adding visual elements to your promotional efforts.
• Finding and Working with Independent Authors, Dick Margulis
Independent authors might be the best, and fastest-growing group of, clients for many freelancers to work with, especially because many will pay for skills and services in editing, proofreading, design and layout, and publishing. Learn how to build up your freelance business by finding clients in, and structuring effective, profitable working relationships with, this sector of the publishing world.
• New Angles in Editing, Marilyn Schwartz
Those who revere Amy Einsohn’s classic Copyeditor’s Handbook will be thrilled to know that the University of California Press has published a new fourth edition, substantially revised and updated by Marilyn Schwartz, along with a new companion workbook prepared with co-author Erika Bűky. The Handbook has long served as
a valuable resource for writers and an essential reference for editors and proofreaders at every stage of their careers and in all areas of editing. Get the insider’s take on both the timeless wisdom of this beloved text and some critical new angles in editing that are explored in the revised edition and its accompanying Workbook.
• Working with Word/Acrobat, April Michelle Davis
Whether we like it or hate it, Microsoft Word remains the big dog on the word-processing playground and we all have to use it for writing, editing and proofreading work because it’s what most of our clients use — but using it effectively still presents challenges for many freelancers in publishing. Acrobat is also becoming a standard for not only proofreading, as it was originally designed for, but editing as well. Learn how to make the most of these essential tools, including practical tips and shortcuts/macros, educating clients unfamiliar with the programs, and rescuing documents from those dreaded crashes.
• Build a Better Website to Promote Your Freelance Business, Meghan Pinson and Ruth E. Thaler-Carter
It’s become common knowledge that freelancers need websites to build and support their business efforts. Find out why, and learn how, with tips on how to name your site, what to include, what not to do, how to make your site — and your business — look their best, and how to generate traffic through effective search engine optimization. If you don’t have a website yet, this session will get you started. If you already have one, this session will help you make it better at promoting your business and laying the groundwork for better interactions with clients.
• The Art of Persuasion: How to Get Paid What You Deserve, Jake Poinier
Getting paid what we’re worth is a challenge for freelancers both new and established. There always seems to be a new twist in how clients try to pay less than we expect or think we have earned. Pick up on practical, effective insights into positioning yourself with clients to ensure you generate the fees, rates and overall income that your experience and skills deserve, including tactics for increasing rates from current clients, developing referrals and more.
• Get it in Writing!, Dick Margulis and Karin Cather
The very idea of a contract for freelance editorial work scares many of us silly, so we often agree to projects without having agreements or contracts in hand. That can work — but it can backfire. The authors of The Paper It’s Written On (developed as a result of a previous Communication Central presentation) — one long-time freelance editor/book developer and one attorney/editor — will walk you through why a contract is important and what to include in one.
• The Business of Being in Business, April Michelle Davis
It takes more than good writing skills, a sharp eye for typos, a love of reading, the ability to alphabetize, a cellphone camera, etc., to be a successful writer, editor, proofreader, indexer, graphic artist or any other freelancer. Succeeding means being serious about the concept of being in business. You can be brilliant at what you do and still fail if you don’t set up your freelance effort as a business and treat it as such. Find out how to incorporate key business skills and tools to make your freelancing a success — or a bigger and better one.
• Effective Résumés for Freelancers, Rose “JobDoc” Jonas
Even in these days of online visibility through websites, LinkedIn profiles and similar ways to tell the world how great you are in your freelance niche, you often still need a résumé. Crafting one that works is a challenge, especially for those turning to freelancing after (or while still) working in-house. Find out what does and doesn’t work so you have the right document at hand whenever you need it.
• Your Best Publishing Option: Traditional, Hybrid or Entrepreneurial, Roger Leslie
As a freelancer, you decide how your books come to life. Knowing the key elements of book production, marketing and distribution direct you to the best publishing option for you. Choosing the publishing route that best suits your time, money and energy empowers you to do what you love most as your business and brand grow from a colleague whose goal is to help you “Live the Life You Dream.” Writers can use this session to get their work published; editors and proofreaders will find the session helpful in understanding how to work with aspiring authors.
• What Freelancers (Can) Do, Panel Conversation
You don’t have to be a writer or editor to freelance. Learn about opportunities for proofreaders, graphic artists, website developers, indexers and other types of freelancers — and resources they can use for success.

Sunday, October 13, 9 a.m.–12 noon
Freelancing 101: Launching and Managing Your Freelance Business, Meghan Pinson
Freelancing is a dream for so many people nowadays, and the “gig economy” is only expanding as time goes by. Learn when and how to launch and manage your freelance business to minimize the risks and maximize the advantages, along with tips about balancing work and family, among other important considerations.

2019 C-C conf Registration

2019 C-C Conf Topics and Speakers1

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