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as you all realize the term 'Writer' is very broad and general. So my quick question is: I'm trying to help my young aspiring writer friend find a job in PA, but the term writer is really general. What kind of jobs can a writer apply to, really? There are jobs in journalism, sure, but even that is too broad.

I mean, even in a job application adding 'Writer' seems too broad for a recruiting agency to take seriously.

What do you all think?

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Does he have any formal education like a Major in English or similar? –  iwillreadbooks Apr 28 '11 at 8:33
    
Yes, he does. Journalism from Temple University. This is his LinkedIn account if you were interested. linkedin.com/in/jeffbcraven –  Orca May 16 '11 at 4:35
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4 Answers

It makes sense to find a job that involves things you enjoy. Your friend should play up their ability to write in a specific style. While some people are good at prose, others may be good at PR, ad copy, summarizing, etc. Even if it's not the kind of writing they want to do, they should figure out what kind of writing they're good at and push that heavily in applications.

For example, the ability to translate complex and jargon-filled topics into plain, easy-to-understand English is very important in technical fields. Science writers are essentially journalists who make science available to the masses, and they have to be able to take very complex topics and boil them down into something simple. If your friend has a passion for that, then that may be an avenue worth pursuing.

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For those who want to work with writing there are plenty of job opportunities out there.

If they'd like to work with fiction, there are tons of jobs you can get. You can go the standard author job and write books for a living. Or you can work in editing, as a literary agent, or any number of publishing jobs.

If they'd like to work in the corporate world, big businesses are always looking for writers. These are the people that write company wide memos, come up with slogans, do company newsletters, etc.

There are thousands of magazines a person can work for writing articles. They could write on any subject that interests them - birds, hiking, fishing, cars, sports, etc. Magazines are always looking for writers and editors.

You can also work in the technology field. Companies are looking for people to write manuals, FAQ pages, About Us pages, and a bunch more.

The point is, if your friend wants to work with writing for a living, there are plenty of job opportunities out there, you just have to find one you like and go for it.

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I work in IT and we often need skilled writers to help with documentation and promotional material. Pretty much every company I worked for has had at least one Technical Writer and most more than one.

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My short answer - your friend can find any sort of job s/he is interested in and qualified for.

Your friend can work at a coffee shop or a law firm, be a ditch digger or a surgeon, and still be a writer. S/he might not write for a living, and at first that seems unfortunate, but the further I go with my own writing, the more convinced I am that writing works best for me as an avocation; I suspect this may be true for others, as well.

There are millions of people out there who want to write, and a significant number of those people are talented and intelligent enough to do it very well. Most of the employers with jobs in which writing is a major component are fully aware of this glut of talent -- so they don't pay a lot, and the jobs are not easy to get. There's freelancing, which works for some people, but it sounds like your friend is looking for something more stable?

If your friend is at the stage where s/he is defining their skill set as generally as 'writer', I'm guessing it's not a very developed/educated set of skills, and that means that there are a lot of people further up the queue toward the few jobs there are.

So, yeah, this may sound a bit bleak, but as I said, I'm coming to believe that for all but a very few, writing is better as a hobby. I spend my day at work in a job I enjoy but don't love, and I come home BURNING to write. I use the emotions and experiences that I had through my day in the world, and that I've gathered from a lifetime of working a variety of non-writing jobs, and I pour all of that into my stories and characters.

I'm sure others can give you more specific recommendations, but these are my thoughts based on what I read in your question.

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