Photo: Kathryn Decker
A couple of weeks ago I attended Ruth Thaler-Carter’s Communication Central conference in Baltimore and participated in the “Editing Summit” panel. I had been asked to speak about what my company looks for when hiring a copyeditor. Afterward, I was dismayed when a young woman approached and said, “You talked about what you didn’t want in a freelancer. Could you say something about what you do look for?”
I couldn’t blame her. Although I had started off by mentioning all the things we look for, it’s true that most of my remarks consisted of advice on how to avoid having your résumé chucked in the reject pile. The list of positives, on the other hand, was very short—perhaps I should have repeated it at the end. So for her benefit and yours, I’ll list again the most important things an applicant can offer if she wants to impress us. I would guess that they are the same elsewhere.
—Experience. From freelancers, we want to see a list of scholarly books the candidate has edited and the contact information of assigning editors.
—Skills. The cover letter and résumé should be error-free, and they should be written in Chicago style.
—Honesty. If you don’t know Chicago style, your application materials will betray you, guaranteed. Forget the clever wordplay. Write in a straightforward way, as you would to an author you are editing.
And if you’re curious about that long list of application turnoffs, you can read about it here.