Let’s face it: nobody is perfect, but that’s essentially how you need to come across when submitting a content writer resume. If your resume stands any chance of being a shortlist standout, perfection in the sense of flawless language use and typo-free text is still not good enough.
As a virtual audition that simultaneously shows and tells your best writing attributes, your content writer resume can open or close hiring doors faster than it might for candidates in other occupations. With the wow-factor bar set higher earlier on, it’s not unusual to feel pangs of performance anxiety when you are the topic of this content writing task.
Let us help you confidently seize the opportunity to express yourself and impress employers with a resume you wear well. Being an experienced or aspiring content writer gives you an edge in showcasing your knowledge, talents and accomplishments to best advantage. Everything else you need to launch your job quest can be found at resume.io, from comprehensive advice on how to write a job-winning resume to an online resume builder tool.
This guide will take you step-by-step through the process of putting it all together. Here is what we’ll cover:
- The occupation — what content writers do, how much they earn and what the future looks like
- What your document should look like based on real content writer marketing resume examples
- Bypassing the bot — tips to avoid ATS rejection
- Section-by-section advice for resume writing
- Eye-catching resume format and design hints to put your best foot forward
Content writer job role and market
The content writer job title is not a misnomer, nor is it very precise in making a distinction from other writing occupations. There was a time when “writer” covered the gamut. Written material in any shape or form comprised “content,” but there was no such thing as a “content writer” per se.
Not much about our world has been the same since the internet’s advent in the early 1990s, and that includes career options. Thus, content writing jobs were born into a work category that keeps needing the seams let out for continued growth.
By most definitions today, content writer jobs are for professionals who create written material for use online. Often in compliance with employer style guides and content requirements, their writing aims to enlighten, persuade, engage or interact with readers in a clear, actionable way. Strategic and analytical aptitude comes with the territory of gearing content to specific audiences to fulfill well-defined objectives.
Content writing jobs encompass virtually all industries, often in marketing or technical information roles. These professionals can produce all manner of digital content for employer organizations or freelance clients: articles, blogs, social media posts, web pages, SEO content, advertising and sales copy, e-newsletters and e-books, corporate communications, news releases, reports, e-commerce sites and more.
Many content writer job roles require you to be highly internet-proficient overall, and play a vital role in search engine optimization. They typically collaborate as part of a content team that includes marketing professionals, project managers and executive assistants .
Although there may be areas of crossover with other writing job titles, such as copywriter and technical writer, content writers are often expected to be more versatile in covering a wide range of subjects. Some of the most research-intensive jobs call for content writers who are well-rounded but able to cover specialized topics that may be totally unfamiliar when assigned.
Most content writers do much more than just write. Take it from Nick Kakolowski, whose illuminating article What is a Content Writer? walks readers through a typical workday with the content marketing agency Brafton.
For Kakolowski, every piece of content begins with strategy, informed by client collaboration and independent research. The goal never changes: Tell a story that’s engaging for the reader, valuable for the client and strategically designed to get noticed on the web.
How much do content writers earn?
According to payscale.com in February 2021, the average annual base salary for content writers in the U.S. is $46,657. The overall annual salary range is from $32,000 to $71,000. Job satisfaction among survey respondents was high, the average rating being 3.7 out of 5.
A bachelor’s degree is generally required for employment as a content writer. Graduation from English, journalism, communications or creative writing programs is typical, while degrees in science or other disciplines might be an asset for content writers in some industries.
February 2021 payscale.com survey data indicates what content writers can expect to earn at various career stages, from entry level positions to 20 years or more of experience.
|Career Experience||Average Annual Compensation|
|20 years or more||$61,025|
|10 to 19 years||$58,404|
|5 to 9 years||$53,859|
|1 to 4 years||$44,252|
|Less than 1 year||$38,102|
What is the job outlook for content writers?
According to quoracreative, job market growth for content writers is in the 8% to 10% range, year over year, until at least 2025.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 2% decline overall from 2019 to 2029 for the occupations lumped together in its catch-all “writers and authors” category. Job losses in the publishing sector for newspapers, books, periodicals and directories, as well as news media downsizing, will intensify the competition for writer and author jobs as a whole. Because of their online skills and experience, content writers will have an advantage.
How to write a content writer resume
You should focus on three important principles when making a good content writer resume:
- Custom-tailor your style of communication and tone to the employer
- Make sure the formatting, structure and visuals of your resume are up to par
- Optimize your content writer resume for ATS systems when submitting online
Everything you’ve learned and practiced on your journey to become a good writer will serve you well in crafting a content writer resume that does it all justice. What makes you especially good at writing actionable content is your secret weapon.
Convincing potential employers you have what it takes to do the job comes down to them knowing it when they see it. Your content writer resume is the most important gig you have at this stage of scoring the job you want. It’s about delivering substance and style in the same neat package.
Custom-tailoring your resume tone
Remember the golden rule of successful resumes: each one is custom-tailored to the employer. Content writer resume tone and communication style is no exception. It’s safe to assume you know more about content writing than the person reading your resume, which is where your communication gifts keep on giving. You are trained to always write for your audience in delivering content that is engaging, relevant, compelling and above all, purposeful. Answers to these questions inform your strategy: who am I writing this for, and why?
You are also well aware that it takes more than a way with words to be a good writer, and that the right words don’t always come naturally off the top. Editing is the Siamese twin tool that shapes and tweaks your writing to make it appealingly clean, crisp, clear, concise, efficient and focused. Less is more … even more so when writing a resume.
Ensuring the visual side of your resume is up to par
Resume creation poses a paradox of sorts. The wording is supposed to make you sound extraordinary enough to capture a recruiter’s attention. But visually, your resume should conform to standards for format, structure and length. The reasons are both practical and esthetic.
Essentially, a resume consists of listed information that can be readily spotted and easily read. Every component must stand out but not detract from anything else. Your name and contact information belongs in a striking header or sidebar. The other standard resume sections are the summary (or profile), employment history, education and skills.
With few exceptions, all of these sections should fit on a single page, with ample white space to offset the text density. A maximum word count of 250 will generally achieve that, as the attached example illustrates.
Otherwise, the variations on basic resume formatting and design principles are endless. Should you include a photo? What about asymmetrical layouts with graphic elements running down one of the margins? These kinds of style choices are up to you. It’s like dressing for success. There is no absolute right or wrong outfit, only the best look and fit for you. Browse through the expert-endorsed resume templates we offer in four design categories: simple, creative, professional and modern.
How to optimize your content writer resume for ATS
Even if you already have a stellar resume for a content writer position, you still need to optimize your keyword usage when dealing with ATS software. This is relevant when submitting your resume online, since the ATS will be the gatekeeper between you and actual human hiring managers.
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are a blessing or a curse, depending on how much you appreciate the importance of customizing your resume to fit each job you apply for. An adaptable resume document that can be readily tweaked for every new opportunity has always been a smart idea. Nowadays, it’s a necessity. If the extra effort does not pay off directly this time, the practice can only improve your next-time chances.
ATS is one of the robots that sci-fi nerds predicted 50 years ago would replace human resources assistants in the 21st century. Whether it was the receptionist who used to open and distribute the morning mail, or an executive assistant skimming through dozens of documents for sorting to “yes,” “no,” or “maybe” piles on the hiring manager’s desk, these labor-intensive screening processes for paper resumes have gradually been phased out by e-technology.
Of course, human eyes and cognition still come into play nowadays, but countless resumes for any given job post never make it that far. For most large organizations, ATS software is the online submission gatekeeper. Algorithms scan each resume for keywords — usually matching the advertised job description — and rank it against all others. Only the highest-ranking resumes pass through this digital filter for review by hiring staff. The rest are deftly eliminated.
Averting this cyber-oblivion fate is not as tricky or daunting as it seems. You can’t go wrong reviewing and revisiting the listed job requirements, and the more times you scrutinize the wording the better. Incorporate as many of the exact same nouns, verbs and modifiers in your resume text as possible, but in your own language and context. It has to sound natural and relevant to your qualifications. And it must be truthful. If WordPress expertise is called for in the job listing, but your knowledge is rudimentary, you should still mention this so the algorithm picks up the “WordPress” keyword.
Word cloud helpers are fast and fun.
If your eyes start glazing over from keyword fatigue after a few passes through the job description, summon word clouds to the rescue. Head over to a site like wordclouds.com or worditout.com, where you can paste in the job description text that finds you stuck. Instantly, a colorful graphic shape appears composed from the most commonly used words. The largest descriptors in the word cloud are the ones that belong in your resume. Who knew it could be so easy, fast and fun figuring out which resume keywords are a sure bet to beat the ATS?
Content writer CV summary example
Adopting the face, voice and personality of an employer or client is routine for many content writers. The resume summary — sometimes called profile — is where your own professional and personal essence shines through. Its usual placement right below the header lends off-the-top importance and directness to your connection with hiring managers.
Limited resume page space dictates a sparing word count in the summary without selling yourself short. Judgement calls determine how much to say here and exactly how to say it, concisely but convincingly. You have just two or three almost-complete sentences to hit the high notes. The good news: omitting “I” in each one is proper form. Clear, descriptive and dynamic language is your friend. Use active, results-oriented verbs: “persuaded” instead of “presented,” or “spearheaded” instead of “led.”
As a synopsis of information found elsewhere on your resume, the summary neither duplicates nor downplays the highlights from a “what I’ve done” perspective. “Who I am” must also come across in your compelling pitch for being the right hire, beyond abilities and accomplishments. Prospective employers care about the human traits that make you good at what you do. Here’s how you might convey it in a simple sentence: “Consistently met tight deadlines while delivering top-quality content.”
A pitch-perfect resume summary strikes a balance between overstating and understating your value proposition. Don’t be too modest but don’t cross any boastful lines. Share due credit for your successes in the context of team collaboration and cooperation. You can’t go wrong with assertive, confident and energetic. Arrogant and pretentious are show stoppers. Above all, be earnest and authentic.
Here’s an example of a content writer resume summary section:
Experienced Content Writer highly skilled in researching, writing, and publishing compelling content. Results-driven and adept in driving the production of meaningful and original content for various media platforms and clients.
Content writer employment history example
Organizing the work history section of your resume should be simple if you have consistent content writing experience, perhaps including your current job. The generally recommended chronological structure will work fine.
Job seekers who are new to the content writer workforce — perhaps being recent graduates or still in school — can check out the resume formats we suggest as chronological alternatives or hybrids.
Chronological means reverse dated order: your current/most recent job appears first and your earliest job comes last. If there are gaps in your employment history or intervals when you worked in unrelated occupations, always list relevant jobs first, again in reverse chronological order.
Each job entry starts with the employer name, location and when you worked there. Below that is a bullet point list of your contributions. Be specific and use dynamic action verbs in the simple past or present tense: for example, “created” instead of “responsible for creating” (or worse, “responsible for the creation of.”) Your language should showcase accomplishment rather than state responsibilities.
Speaking of accomplishments, focus on results and outcomes whenever possible. Was there an impact on web traffic or revenues? Were readers persuaded or influenced by a call to action? Content writers often have an advantage being able to quantify their successes. Any time you can substantiate your work achievements, your resume is richer for it.
According to monster.com, even experienced writers often need help with resumes. Relevant career advice includes this sample of accomplishment-focused work history highlights:
- Reached 120% of customer acquisition target, capturing 7,500 new subscribers in six months following development and launch of a niche-marketing campaign.
- Created brochures and supporting materials that contributed to maximum-capacity attendance at sales prospecting events for a leading technology solutions provider.
- Facilitated a medical-billing company's domination of the Northeast market with successful PR initiatives.
- Wrote press releases that secured media hits in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Business Week.
Generally, only relevant jobs — content writing — belong on your resume. An exception would be relevant knowledge or experience from a non-writing job when you are targeting a specific employer/industry niche. Maybe your sights are set on a gig writing blogs on gardening topics, By all means include the summer job you had at a greenhouse nursery.
Professional online writer and coach Elna Cain offers helpful resume advice geared to freelance content writers at elnacain.com.
Here’s an example of a content writer employment history section:
- Worked with internal and external partners to develop and execute content strategies.
- Performed well with project requirements and deadlines.
- Created well-researched and stimulating content.
- Worked collaboratively with team members to meet and exceed project goals.
Content writer resume education example
The education section of a content writer’s resume is usually straightforward. It’s where you list degrees earned from college programs you were enrolled in. Be sure to mention scholastic awards or other special achievements and honors.
Additional diplomas and certifications relevant to your training and professional development also belong on this list, along with internships. From on-the-job instruction to courses, workshops and webinars you’ve completed as a work requirement or on your own, don’t overlook anything that sets you apart.
The same goes for association memberships that widen windows to expand and elevate your knowledge and skills. Make a connection between these learning channels and your ability to keep pace in the ever-evolving digital content sector. Perhaps through such a professional association your work has earned peer recognition in an awards competition. By all means include this on your resume.
Unless there’s a particular reason, only relevant postsecondary education should appear on your resume. With college degrees generally being the accepted minimum hiring requirement for content writers, where you attended high school is unimportant. But if you lack a college degree or other relevant postsecondary education, then high school graduation is worth confirming on your resume.
In the same vein, university degrees in unrelated disciplines are best omitted. Again, there are exceptions for content writers in a field where employment and education overlap. Applicants for a content writing job in the wellness industry might have a sports medicine degree or personal fitness trainer diploma. A nutrition degree would be an asset for a food industry niche position.
Consider reversing the order of your employment history and education sections in these instances: you have little or no employment experience as a content writer, your educational background is particularly impressive or relevant to the job you are pursuing, or you are a freelance content writer starting out or branching out in a sideline career.
Here’s an example of a content writer education section:
Bachelor of English, Marist College, Poughkeepsie
September 2014 — May 2018
High School Diploma, Carmel High School, Carmel
September 2010 — May 2014
Content writer resume skills example
In sync with the summary and employment history section of your resume, the skills list shines an extra bright spotlight on what matters. The relative simplicity of formatting gives you flexibility in changing up your resume for each targeted job. It’s often an ideal opportunity to use keywords highlighting your most relevant qualifications. You might also illuminate strengths that don’t come across well in the work or education background.
Be sure to include a blend of hard skills and soft skills that help define you as a great fit for the job and the employer, including corporate culture.
According to Indeed.com, these are the top nine skills for content writers:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Time management
- Knowledge of social media
Hard skills relate to your competence in meeting job requirements, in a more hands-on sense. Content writers might be research champs with strategic finesse fine-tuning their language and tone to the audience and desired outcome. Technical skills-wise, their familiarity with software might encompass web data analytics, word processing, social media monitoring and content management.
According to payscale surveys, some of the most popular content writing skills and corresponding average salaries as follows.
Content Management* $48,839
Search Engine Optimization $41,014
Soft skills are what makes you tick in supporting or elevating your performance strengths. They tend to be interpersonal skills that make you an excellent communicator, working effectively with others in team or management roles. If your comfort zone is working autonomously — even in an office if not remotely from home — some employers might be reassured by the thought of minimal hand-holding. On the other hand, they need assurance that you are not a hermit. So convey that you take direction and accept feedback well. You are used to collaborating, coordinating and staying connected with everyone else involved in the workflow.
Here’s a sample of a content writer skills section:
- Communication Skills
- Effective Time Management
- Ability to Work Under
- Editing and Proofreading
- Creative Writing
Content writer resume formatting and design
As a content writer you don’t need reminding that resume formatting and visual always count on a professional-caliber document. You are used to ensuring your work will look as good as it reads, even if someone else takes care of the design and formatting.
What you have in common with all workforce hopefuls is the goal of a clean, reader-friendly resume layout. The same basic rules apply to margins, spacing, proportion and balance between text and white space in the formatting of a content writer resume. Chances are you have the know-how and flair to design a stylish resume that does justice to its content quality: eye-catching but gimmick-free, impeccably neat, balanced and polished. But unless you are keen to spend that much time and energy building your resume from scratch, there are easier ways.
Consider using one of our field-tested resume templates, where the most tedious aspects of design and formatting are done for you. You are sure to be equally satisfied with the end product, especially after adding your own stamp of originality.
One final step before you are ready to hit the “Send” key: download and save your resume as a PDF, which preserves all the formatting. This file format for your content writer resume will ensure the document displayed on the hiring manager’s computer looks exactly the same as it does on your own.
However, if you’re applying through an ATS system, make sure to double-check what file format it prefers and/or accepts. While preserving the visuals formatting of your content resume is vitally important, some online application systems only accept Word files. Better safe than sorry.
- By virtue of your expertise as a content writer, the bar is set high to create a top-flight resume, while you also have a greater advantage being up to the task.
- As the market demand for content writers remains strong, downsizing in the print publishing sector and news media will augment the pressure on digital writers to maintain their competitive edge.
- Research and strategic skills will serve you well when creating an adaptable resume tailored to the specific job qualifications and requirements of each prospective employer.
- Target your resume accordingly by incorporating keywords matched to the listed job description in the summary (profile), work history and skills sections while identifying your strengths as a candidate.
- Using the online resume maker and one of the resume examples at resume.io lets you focus on writing worthy resume content with eyes on the prize, still with room for your own creative stamp.