Copywriting jobs - image of a a frustrated writer looking for a job

Copywriting jobs: 3 ways to separate the class from the crass

Posted by Jack Joslin Picture of Jack Joslin on 4 January 2024
Marketing copywriter specialising in writing about technology, marketing, branding, strategy and thought leadership for Articulate Marketing.
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Open browser. Type ‘copywriting jobs’. Scroll, scroll, scroll.

Opportunities, opportunities everywhere. So many writing roles to choose from, no matter your experience level or specialism. Look closer, though, and the red flags start flying. From AI-generated spam – and even scams – to aggressively vague job descriptions, it’s not easy being an employment-seeking scribe these days.

Which openings are worth your attention? Which jobs should you not even bother to send a generic cover letter?

Here’s our best advice for all those writers searching for their dream job.

1. Seek out…

Clear boundaries

Employers, like most people, want to get the best bang for their buck, but there’s a limit to what it’s reasonable to expect from their prospective hires.

As a copywriter, your primary tasks should chiefly involve — surprise, surprise — writing copy.

A trustworthy company will know exactly what they need from you and be able to lay out those expectations. If they can’t? Be careful. You’re exposing yourself to ‘work creep’ and could quickly end up doing two jobs for the price of one.

If anything in the job description is unclear… ask. If this employer is worth your time, they’ll jump at the chance to clarify what they’re after.

A fair (and fun) interview process

Job interviews can be enjoyable. Seriously. There’s no law saying otherwise.

The secret is to dispense with the pre-engineered responses and present your authentic self. If you’re stronger writing in some formats over others, list them. If you have special requirements or areas in which you hope to improve, be upfront about those.

Once you’ve spotted a job role that might suit you, scope out their website. Their tone of voice and personality – or lack thereof – will shine through. Next, see if they’ve got a formalised interview process. For example, this is the process we go through when hiring. Will you get a chance to ask questions and chat on equal pegging? Or will you have to jump through endless hoops before they’ll deign to read your CV?

If and when they invite you for an interview, remember: a great employer will appreciate who you are for who you are.

Good vibes

Yes, it matters.

Trust your gut. Nerves are expected when job seeking, but does the place just feel… off somehow? Does your stomach sink at the idea of clocking in every Monday?

Unpack those thoughts. They might be standard jitters or something more profound. Intuition tells us a lot more than we give it credit for.

On average, a person will cumulatively spend over 13 years of their life at work. It’s a reasonable ask to spend that time in a friendly and welcoming environment that celebrates employee well-being, inclusion, diversity, and equality. And if the vibes are verified by a third party, all the better…

2. Steer clear of…

Endless. Dull. Jargon.

Many businesses mistake complexity for cleverness, which bleeds into their job ads. Compare job requirements that read like this:

‘Drive excellence and facilitate greater efficiency and progressive transformation.’

To ones that spell it out in clear, conversational language:

‘Writing high-quality long-form copy for web and promotional materials, aligned to client goals and voice.’

The latter gives you a clear picture of your day-to-day. The former serves up meaningless word salad without indicating what you will actually be doing.

Doing free work

Most employers will ask to see your portfolio if you’re applying for a copywriter role. Some might even set you a task.

These test runs are a great way for businesses and applicants to gauge whether they might be a good fit for each other.

However, be wary of job posters who expect vast swathes of text at short notice. You’re not on the payroll yet. A company that values its staff will allow a few days to deliver the assignment. In short, they’ll respect your time.

A few hundred words in a few days is a reasonable request. A few thousand words in a few hours is not (and a sure sign of a content farm!).

‘You’ll receive fantastic exposure.’

Drop by your local shop and ask if they accept exposure as payment. See how that pans out.

Here is a simple checklist to follow if the job poster is offering you exposure instead of payment:

🔲 Say no.

Thus concludes the checklist.

3. Know your value. Know you’re valuable.

Going through the rigmarole of job applications and interviews can be draining and, at its worst, dehumanising.

Always remember that you are an asset.

Rejections come and go. Don’t take them personally. Job-seeking is a marathon, not a sprint. Maybe they’re promoting internally, but they needed to advertise the role regardless. Perhaps you just didn’t ‘click’ with the interviewer.

If you spot an opening at the workplace of your dreams, go for it. Get excited. Convey your enthusiasm.

What’s the worst that can happen? Put your best foot forward and click ‘apply’.

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