Friday, June 5, 2009

Job Ads Worth Applying For

Over at Words on the Page, fellow writer Lori Widmer has written an interesting blog post that details her BS Litmus Test--the signs that she considers a "no go" when applying to job ads online.

I don't apply to a lot of job ads online, but occasionally I go this route when business is slow and I need a quick and easy way to find new clients. I don't think it's as effective as cold emailing, though--and that's saying a lot about its ineffectiveness. Still, every so often I find something that looks like a good bet. Here are the things I look for when choosing which job ads to apply for.

1. They're looking for a professional. Any suggestion that they're looking for "students" or "beginning writers looking to build a portfolio" suggests they're looking for free or very cheap labor.

2. They ask for my rate--they don't state theirs. 99 times out of a hundred, when a job ad states its rate, it's much, much too low. I won't turn down a job that states a good going rate, of course, but that's rare. I go for ads that explicitly ask for writers to send their rates without stating their budget.

3. They know what they want. They're looking for ad copy, articles, website copy, a brochure--they're not vague about what they want and I know exactly which samples to send them. Extra points if they know how many pages they need.

4. They're not a head case. This is kind of hard to spot, but I tend to avoid ads looking for a writer to "express someone's vision" or write a long nonfiction narrative about their personal experience. I look for signs of huge egos looking for someone to faithfully transcribe their greatness. It sounds to me like a lot of enmeshment and impossibly high expectations for projects with limited potential.

Straightforwardness is a good sign in job ads--it suggests the client has nothing to hide and will be straightforward in his dealings with you. Of course, nothing is a sure bet--but these principles have helped me navigate online job ads with some degree of success.


Lori said...

I LOVE your list, especially the last item. My gawd, how true! One of the worst experiences I had was with someone who wanted an editor (read that he wanted a cheerleader), and he went on to accuse me of sucking the "sprit" out of his book when I did the job I was hired to do. He was an EGO and a half! I was to write everything he said down, edit and let HIM edit my edits, then when he ran it past his posse, I was accused of not knowing how to do my job. Like I said, gawd-awful experience.

Thanks for the link love. :)

Jennifer Williamson said...

SO TRUE. You have to avoid the egos. A lot of them do want a cheerleader, and sometimes you can spot those ads a mile away. Sometimes you can't. Anyway, you're welcome!