February 2018 Panel discussion: Finding Work

Panel discussion, Thursday, 22 Feb 2018

by Danielle Vecchio

Panel FindingWork

(L-R) Moderator Margie Beilharz with panellists Lorna Hendry, Lu Sexton and Sandra Duncanson. Photo credit: Nicole Mathers

Whether they’re freelance or employed in-house, new to the industry or firmly established, it’s absolutely clear that editors are keen to find work. With more than fifty in attendance, this year’s first event was a smashing success.

The buzz in the room was infectious; guests gathered and mingled, eager to discover the secret to finding work. Rather than the usual sit-down dinner at CQ Functions, we were treated to finger food and drinks in a more casual format, followed by a panel discussion in a theatre-style setting. 

Moderated by our own Margie Beilharz, the panel consisted of three of our members: Lorna Hendry, Lu Sexton and Sandra Duncanson. All have extensive knowledge and experience in editing and publishing, having forged their way through the industry, and, with pens and laptops at the ready, guests were excited to learn what they had to say.

There’s work waiting for us in the big, wide world; opportunities exist everywhere. But if you want to find work, you must start looking. So, how and where do you find it?

  • Build a network
    By far the most important thing to do. Keep up contacts, attend events and seminars, mention you are an editor in your dealings. Lu has calculated that over half of her work comes from networking, including 33% from subcontracts generated through networking.
  • Market yourself
    At every opportunity, put yourself out there. Attend events and conferences, start a blog, make a Facebook page, join groups and participate. Create a profile on LinkedIn and start promoting yourself.
  • Build an online ‘footprint’
    Have a website, especially if you don’t already have contacts. People are becoming more reliant on websites and many are reluctant to hire someone new who doesn’t have one. A social media presence is also beneficial.
  • Build experience
    Spread your wings and gain as much experience as possible, including volunteering, to help build your CV. Along with networking, this also helps with contacts and testimonials. Ensure, however, that you are not selling your soul; freelance sites such as Fiverr and Airtasker are often time wasters and tend to pay peanuts. You are not a monkey.
  • Build knowledge
    Keep abreast of developments in your industry. Read, research and attend seminars, conferences and workshops. Use the internet to its full advantage. See who is doing what. Be an expert in your field and lead the way.
  • Build a reputation
    Always be professional and be honest with employers about what you can do. As Sandra emphasises, “Every interaction is important in leaving an impression.” Always keep the communication lines open. NEVER miss a deadline. That’s why is called a DEAD-line.
  • Capitalise on your previous experience
    Emphasising both life and career experience will put you on the top of the list for employers seeking those specific skills. Differentiate yourself from other editors. Let people know your skills and passions. As an employer, Deborah Patterson (Brotherhood of St Lawrence editor) adds, she would be looking for something that is relevant to her organisation, e.g., an interest in or knowledge of social policy, or familiarity with editing Excel graphs or statistical analysis
  • Seek opportunities
    For those who are also writers, consider communications jobs. There is a myriad of opportunities in this field. Find the ones that call out to your strengths, tailor your application to the specific requirements of the position and go for it!
  • Add yourself to a registry
    Lu gains 22% of her work from her listings in two registries. Eligible Editors Victoria members should make use of the IPEd Editors Directory if they haven’t already done so, and seek out others, such as IndieMosh.
  • Become an accredited editor
    All panellists agreed in unison that the exam is beneficial. For Lorna, this was a confidence boost as she had previously been a designer and didn’t have a lot of editing experience. It also led to corporate work.

If you’re starting out or if work has come to a halt, do not panic! Work may not come in regularly, and there may be times when there is no work at all. Rest assured, it will come, but you must be willing to put in the hard yards and let people know what you can do. If you make yourself and your strengths known, jobs will come to you.

Danielle Vecchio