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7 steps to clinching your first copywriting role

3 min, 44 sec read
15:00 PM | 8 April 2016
by Natalie King
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The creative industry is competitive. But it’s competitive for a reason – being paid to use your imagination is the dream, right?

So it’s tough. But if you can bag yourself that elusive, first job, you should (theoretically) be able to work your way up from there.

Read on for seven ideas on how the average, budding-but-wet-behind-the-ears wordsmith can score their first copywriting role…

1. Write

I once tweeted a successful copywriter this.

This was their response.

If you’re a writer, you’ve got to be writing. Start up your own blog on advertising, marketing, or another area of interest. Try to get yourself published on other platforms too – there are loads of blogs and websites that take submissions from guest contributors.

Get your voice out there, show off your style, create ammo for your portfolio, and demonstrate a passion for writing.

2. Invest in yourself

If you…

  1. Don’t have any formal copywriting qualifications (an English degree doesn’t count)
  2. Have the time
  3. Have the money

. . . invest in yourself, and your career by doing a short course in copywriting.

At the start of my job hunt, I was lucky enough to have a bit of money to put towards a one-day copywriting course with University of the Arts London (UAL). It sharpened up my skills, looked good on my CV, and continues to inform my copywriting to this day.

There are great courses out there ranging from a few hours in length, to weeks and months. If you can, get yourself on one of them. Check out UAL, The Guardian, and the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) for relevant courses.

3. Dip your toe in the world of marketing

Not long after graduating, I did a one-month PR internship as a way to get some generic marketing / agency experience under my belt. I knew PR wasn’t for me from the get-go – but I pursued the internship as a way to show some interest in marketing, and to get a marketing-related role on my CV.

Think of ways you can get marketing / agency experience – even if it doesn’t directly involve copywriting.

4. Be creative with your CV

Don’t send employers something straight out of your Microsoft Word CV templates folder.

You’re applying for a creative role, so be creative.

As a copywriter, you may not have the graphic design skills to create a visually stunning CV – but that’s no excuse to be boring. How can you play around with language / layout in a word document to make yourself stand out? Come up with an interesting way of telling your story and selling yourself.

Alternatively, do you have any friends with a flair for graphic design? Offer to buy them a drink in exchange for hooking you up with a sweet-looking CV.

5. Work your network

It’s regularly peddled that most job hires come through networking. Do you know anyone that’s (even vaguely) in the industry, and that could set you up with that all-important introduction, work experience, or a job altogether?

6. Get the rest right

Be sure to get the generic job search stuff right.

Are you looking in the right places for copywriting jobs (e.g. Twitter, Guardian Jobs, BrandRepublic, The Drum, LinkedIn)? Do you have email alerts set up for the kind of role you're looking for? Have you made sure your social media footprint isn’t putting employers off? Do you have completed profiles on LinkedIn and FutureRising etc?

7. Don’t give up hope

This article really encouraged me when I was looking for my first copywriting job. It kicks off with the important message that:

"Breaking into copywriting is tricky, but it’s not as hard as it’s made out to be."

If you’re a good writer, with the right approach, and a little bit of graft, you can and will get a copywriting job. It may take a little while – but it’ll come, and it’ll be worth it when you’re being paid to do something you enjoy.

Parting shot: Once you do land a job, be ready to earn your stripes…

Don’t worry if your first copywriting job isn’t the creatively thrilling, or titillating role you ultimately hope for. This is okay – remember it’s a stepping-stone, not a destination.

Use your first copywriting role to:

  1. Prove your existing ability
  2. Learn new skills
  3. Give employers a reason to trust you with greater, or different responsibilities in your next role

Good luck!

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