The dos and don’ts of freelance editor resumes

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June 28, 2021
5 minute read

A single piece of paper can land you thousands of dollars in freelance editing contracts. That paper? Your resume. Despite not being a traditional “job,” resumes are critical for a lot of freelance editing gigs. They explain your expertise and are a perfect complement to your freelance editing portfolio, helping round out your story as an editor. But if you add too much, or the wrong things, your resume will get ignored. Here’s what to include in an effective resume and what to avoid as you go along.

What to include in a freelance editor resume

The main point of a freelance editor resume is to explain what kind of work you do and demonstrate your editing expertise. The second point is to use the resume as a standalone example of your tone, style, and professionalism.

With that in mind, here’s what you should include:

A professional summary: Show off your writing skills! This not only gives prospective clients insight into you as a person, but also shows that you are comfortable producing net-new content (which is sometimes necessary in editing).

Highlight project and time management skills: Editors are often hired with a time crunch attached, so good time management will help you close more deals.

Talk about your favorite editing projects: Give color and context on why you enjoyed the project. Was it the topic? Writer? Structure? Let prospective clients know what drives you.

Explain what kind of editing you do (with examples): Are you a proofreader? Story editor? Strategic editor connecting one piece of content to a company’s overall content plan? A subject matter expert? State what you do, then demonstrate it with an example either in the resume or linking to your editor portfolio.

These key things will make sure your resume is comprehensive and set up for success. Plus, it introduces you as a person, which is essential in the freelancing world because it’s a human-to-human business.

Issues to avoid in a freelance editor resume

Just as you include the right things to stand out, adding the wrong things will get you promptly ignored. Here’s what to pay attention to and make sure you never have in your resume.

Typos and grammatical mistakes: You won’t close many editing gigs if your resume has typos or grammatical mistakes in it.

Repetitive phrases: Explain what you did, not just that you “edited” 15 different things. Talk about the story, the goal, the writer, etc.

Inconsistent tone: Unless you’re demonstrating your editorial range, don’t use inconsistent tonality throughout your resume - keep it authentic to your actual voice and style.

Information overload: Too many words, examples, or explanations will get you ignored. Send just enough to prove your point and entice a prospective client to want to learn more.

These issues are all near-instant disqualification for a freelance editing gig, so make sure you’re vigilant about them.

Freelance editor resume examples for inspiration

Wondering what a freelance editor resume should look like? Here are three examples for inspiration from Job Hero, LiveCareer, and VelvetJobs.

Download this resume template from JobHero.

Download this resume template from LiveCareer.

Download this resume template from VelvetJobs.

Improving your freelance editor resume

Worried that a template isn’t enough for you? Don’t stress—there are a lot of ways to improve your resume.

First: Make sure you’ve edited for all the things you must-include (from section one of this article).

Second: Check that you have not put in anything that might get you disqualified or ignored (from section two of this article).

Third: You can get additional help by taking online courses for freelance editors or by hiring a resume coach to help you. This will cost some money, but could be worth it to help you build a resume that will help you connect with high-quality prospective clients.

A resume is just the beginning

Resumes can be helpful when applying to freelance editing gigs, but it’s only the first step. After that, you have to run a successful sales call, scope the project, and manage the backend administration like invoicing to ensure the project goes smoothly. While that’s a lot of work, it also comes with some good news: you don’t have to stress over the resume. Just focus on including the right things and avoiding the big issues. Then your job is to find and apply to editing jobs that might be a fit for you, but if you don’t get one gig there is always another one out there.