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If You Are Applying for an Online Writing Job at /Film, or Anywhere Else…

Testing Oldcamera app: my brooding friend Matt
Photo taken by me

Due to the volume of comments we get at /Film, we recently posted an open call for comment moderators at the site. In the past 24 hours, we’ve already received dozens of e-mails for the job, more than I had anticipated and certainly more than we can possibly use (there is only one position available).

I’ve read my share of /Film applications and I’ve noticed some patterns emerging. Thus, I thought I’d put together a few pieces of advice for people that apply to these types of jobs. It’s basic stuff that most people (should) probably already know, but this is a personal blog after all. More stuff will probably be added to this list later, potentially in another post.

Although I am writing this list, I struggle with these types of issues all the time. But I strive for professionalism in my writing, and I like it when other people do too. I also want to note that despite the existence of this list, we receive a ton of high-quality applicants. It’s always difficult to decide who to choose in these circumstances, but people that make the following mistakes are easier to eliminate from consideration.

1) Do not apologize for the crappiness of the writing you are sending me – “Sorry, this isn’t my best writing, but…” “I wrote this piece while I was on the toilet this morning, so…” “This writing was done while under duress and at gunpoint, and…” If it’s not your best writing, why are you sending it to me? Do you not want me to see your best writing? Do you not have any access to good writing that you have done? Do you not have any good writing? Lowering my expectations will not lead me to conclude “Yes, THIS IS WHO WE WANT!” after I read what you’ve sent me.

2) Try to make sure there are no spelling or grammar errors in your e-mail or in your writing samples – This is pretty obvious, but try to make sure your e-mails and writing samples are spell-corrected and checked for proper grammar. Reading your e-mail will probably be my first interaction with you, ever. If you can’t put proper care into this single communication, how likely will you be to be put care into the daily grind of writing for a high-traffic blog?

3) Do not include NOTHING in your e-mail – If I ask for writing samples, or links to your favorite pieces, or anything, you should try to include what I ask for in your application or at least something analogous to it.

Working “next to” someone, even in the virtual world, can be a pretty intense experience. It would be great to try to get a sense of what your style is, who you are, etc. Even a poorly-maintained blog does more to help fill in these gaps than nothing. If I have nothing to go on except for a few paragraphs in your e-mail, you probably will not hear from me again.

4) Be respectful – You are applying for a job, which is to say, you are asking someone to consider making you a part of their organization. Being curt, intimating that you think you are “better than this,” and making demands will probably not leave a good impression.

5) If you have been a heinous jerk to my co-workers, members of the /Film community, and/or to me on multiple occasions in the comments sections, via e-mail, in person, in public, or anywhere else, you are most likely not going to get the job – Self-explanatory (and, perhaps, motivation to not be a heinous jerk as a general matter).