Creating a CV* can seem like a daunting prospect for the new editor or proofreader with little experience. It needn't be so. Here are a few simple ideas to help you on your way.
[To clarify, a CV is a résumé – see comment below.]
The hook–pitch–call to action framework
The hook might be an introductory headline, set out in bold or a different colour, which captures your business ethos. It might be a glowing testimonial. Or it could be a simple, clearly articulated statement in the first line of text that highlights your USPs. Whatever you choose it should be something that grabs the customer’s attention.
The pitch will include those key selling points that summarize what you do, e.g. your training, experience, relevant background, and subject specialisms.
The call to action is where you tell your customer what to do next: how to contact you to discuss a project. Here you can include your telephone number(s), email address, website and postal address.
The differentiation–solution–empathy* framework
The 'pitch' element of your CV needs to incorporate the unique selling points (USPs) that will make you most interesting to your reader. They might include your training, previous educational or career experience that is relevant to the customer, and the subjects you specialize in (again, relevant to the customer). The differentiation–solution–empathy framework helps you to structure this content in a persuasive way.
A fictive example
Let's imagine there's a new proofreader on the market. I'm going to give her the following bio: Margo is British-born but her mother is from Denmark. She’s bilingual, has a degree in English literature, a Master’s in Social Policy and Administration and is a qualified social worker with ten years’ professional experience of working in the Children and Family Services departments for two UK county councils. She's completed a proofreading training course with one of the UK’s respected training institutions and has joined her national editorial society. She's only recently set up her business and has no experience, previous clients or testimonials.
She wants to write a persuasive pitch for a CV aimed at students and social science academics for whom English is a second language,
She creates the following hook that clearly states what her core USP is and uses this as a headline at the top of her CV:
Bilingual proofreader specializing in clients for whom English is a second language
Now she focuses on the main content of the document, using the differentiation–solution–empathy framework to help her structure the information.
Using this framework she writes the following pitch for her CV:
I am a bilingual proofreader specializing in working with students and independent academics, in UK universities, for whom English is a second language.
Once Margo has added in her business title at the top of the page and her call-to-action and contact details at the bottom, she'll have everything she needs for her starter CV. She could introduce some sub-headings to help her reader navigate the specific sections quickly and she might expand her use of bullet points to make the critical information more digestible. If she uses wide margins, effective line spacing, a readable font that is easy on the eye, and a simple colour way that matches her business brand, she will end up with a beautifully presented and professional CV.
Benefits of a CV
I hope you've found these ideas useful and that the frameworks provided offer you a way of thinking about how to structure the critical information you do have available, even if you've only just entered the editorial freelancing market.
*Kevin Daum, 'Give the Perfect Elevator Pitch', Inc.com, accessed July 2013
Louise Harnby is a professional proofreader and copyeditor. She curates The Proofreader's Parlour and is the author of several books on business planning and marketing for editors and proofreaders.
Visit her business website at Louise Harnby | Proofreader, say hello on Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, or connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.
This morning I was chatting online with my pal and colleague Kate Haigh about marketing issues (she's a fellow freelancer who puts a lot of value on the time she invests in both the "thinking" and "doing" elements of promoting her editorial business, Kateproof). Our conversation reminded me, once more, of another lesson I learned during my days as a marketing manager in the publishing industry: putting yourself in your customer's shoes.
For the proofreader or editor this means asking yourself:
You might use different marketing activities to target different client types, and different hooks and pitches to make yourself interesting to those client types. It’s worth checking that the message matches the customer's expectations at each opportunity.
Tweaking and targeting each and every time the opportunity arises
Kate talked specifically about how we do this customer-shoe wearing when we're creating CVs, though the concept is applicable to any marketing activity.
I’ve lost count of the CVs/résumés I’ve generated over the years, because each time I’m asked by a client to send one as part of my quotation, I like to tailor it specifically to that invitation to quote. My website currently includes a couple of slightly different options – one focuses on the work I’ve done for academic publishers, the other for trade publishers. The former includes a truncated portfolio of social science projects that I’ve proofread, whereas the latter includes a list of fiction and commercial non-fiction projects. Both of them emphasize the information that I believe publishers want to know.
However, I don’t use either of those when a non-publisher client contacts me directly and asks me to send them a CV. Instead, I create a new one. Here are just a few examples of things I might tweak for my newly created CV, in this case for an independent writer:
From the tone you use to the USPs (unique selling points) you highlight, the terminology you employ, the genres/subjects/experience you list, the kinds of testimonial you include, and the promises you make – ensuring they match what the customer needs and understands is the key to good communication and successful marketing. And if that means having multiple CVs, business cards, and promo brochures, so be it. If it means different pitches for different directory listings, so be it. If it means additional work to ensure you're using the right message to the right person at the right time, so be it.
On the subject of CVs, if you're a new entrant to the field and are worried about how you might create an attractive editorial résumé even though you're relatively inexperienced, I'll be addressing this on the Parlour in the next few weeks.
Stephen Cashmore, the SfEP's training director, has kindly agreed to tell Parlour readers a little more about the exciting developments in online/distance learning editorial training being offered by the Society ...
Louise has invited me, as training director of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, to explain what the thinking is behind making our training courses available online, and what lies a bit further down the road.
The "why" is simple enough: there’s a strong demand for distance learning courses that are accessible online. The SfEP office regularly receives enquiries from people outside the UK, asking when we’re going to deliver training online so that they can benefit from it. For that matter, we regularly get enquiries from would-be students in the UK, asking exactly the same question. Why? Because they can’t afford the time away from their desk, or they have family commitments, or they can’t afford the travel (and sometimes accommodation), or the dates of the classroom-based course are inconvenient. This demand for online courses was also highlighted in the last annual membership survey.
As our publicity material says, the benefits of learning material being available online include:
This is not to say that there’s no place for classroom-based courses. They have their own unique advantages in their networking opportunities and the fact that you can put your hand up and immediately ask awkward questions of the living, breathing tutor in front of you.
In short, training is demand-led. We are making our courses available online because there is a demand for it, and we will continue to deliver classroom-based courses for as long as there is a demand for them.
What next? Our flagship course, Proofreading 1: Introduction, is already available online. The plan is to put four more courses online this year:
We are planning to make Copy-editing Progress available online before the Society’s conference in Exeter. (Are you going to the conference, by the way? If you are not, well, I would encourage you to check out what’s on offer via the SfEP website.) The other three courses should be online before the end of 2013.
Once these entry-level courses are in place, my aim is to target the "specialist" market and provide half a dozen online-only courses on specific topics, although these are only a glint in my eye at the moment. Budget constraints mean that I can target only one of these courses during 2013/14: the others will, I hope, be developed early in 2014/15.
So there’s a lot happening. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and keep an eye open on our website for future announcements on the progress of SfEP’s delivery of online training.
Training Director, SfEP
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