Dear Writing Job Applicants,

It’s a tough job market for writers. Low supply of writing jobs + high demand for them = uber-competitive job market. That means I have the pick of the litter when hiring content marketing talent.

Fast forward past dozens of applications, and I’m majorly bummed I can’t tell each candidate what they’re doing wrong. It’s kind of like watching a horror movie when you beg the characters not to wander into the creepy mansion the serial killer likes to hang out in.

In honor of ending a fatal flaw, call this blog my rebellion. It’s time to get woke.


Secret 1: Pay Attention to the Details

I’m a writer, so you’d be remiss to think I didn’t put time and effort into writing job descriptions. Every word I use is purposeful. Don’t be fooled — this is a test. The people who are brave enough to push past online templates and use the breadcrumbs I leave behind are the ones who pass.

Secret 2: Your Cover Letter Must Slay

Forget the resume. As a content marketer, I care way more about your cover letter.

Don’t blow your one chance to stand out. “My name is X and I’m applying for Y” is where a content manager’s soul goes to die. You can do better. Your cover letter should be an adequate stand-in for meeting you in person and show off your voice.

Throw in some of the following and you’ll earn brownie points:

  • Personalization – Take your best guess at who the hiring manager is and address them directly. Use a gem of information from their bio to pique their interest. For example, if you’re a Virginia Tech graduate applying to join our Paid Media team, you would address your letter to Moira Miller and proclaim a duo of Hokies would make for an unstoppable Paid Media machine.
  • Sass – Recently, a Knucklepuck applicant opened their cover letter pointing out a typo in our job posting. I immediately knew I wanted to interview them. Every hiring manager worth their salt should want to hire someone who will make their team better. Use your cover letter to offer some ideas on how the company can improve and how you can contribute. If you do it right, sassy shouldn’t be synonymous with disrespectful.
  • Humor – Who says applying to jobs has to be boring? Major props to anyone who can make me laugh out loud as I read their application.
  • Creativity – This is your shot to impress me, so pull out all the stops. The typical candidate might submit a cover letter with their photo. The creative candidate would submit a cover letter with their Bitmoji because they noticed Knucklepuck uses Bitmojis on our staff pages.

Secret 3: Submit Relevant Clips

When I ask for writing samples, what I’m really asking for is relevant writing samples. I need to know you can do the job I’m hiring you to do.

If you don’t have any relevant clips in your online portfolio, that may be a clue you’re applying for the wrong job.

If your clips aren’t relevant but this is your dream job, it’s time to cancel your Saturday plans and get writing; your ideas are good regardless of whether they’ve been published. Pick a favorite brand like Apple, J. Crew or even Knucklepuck and write some copy. I recommend a blog, a social media post and a quip of ad copy.

Secret 4: Use Numbers

Numbers. Analytics. Data. How do I hate thee?

It’s ironic that numbers are the crux of successful content marketing. We’re words people, not numbers people. But let’s face the truth — content marketing is about growing your client’s online business, and there’s no better way to prove your work is effective than using numbers.

Consider adding some numbers to your application that show how powerful your words are, like:

  • Organic traffic to a piece you wrote
  • Referral traffic from a social media post you wrote
  • Number of social media followers or newsletter subscribers before and after you joined a project
  • Cost per conversion before and after you began writing ad copy

Secret 5: Take the Temperature

Our CEO, Brett, once told me he wished more candidates would ask how they did at the end of an interview. It shows bravery and gives the candidate immediate feedback.

This can go one of two ways:

  1. You take some harsh feedback with grace and use it to improve your hiring materials. Now you can avoid wondering why you didn’t get this job and use our feedback to land the next one.
  2. You earn cool points with the hiring manager, learn you’re a top candidate for the job and move on to the next step.