How to Get a Job as a Proofreader with No Experience

Unlike many other jobs, it’s possible to get a job as a proofreader with no previous experience. But there are some steps you can take that will help get your career off to a strong start:

  1. Identify your key skills.
  2. Volunteer to gain experience.
  3. Plan and prepare for your new career.

Read on to discover these steps in detail.

1. Learn the Right Skills

While you don’t need any editing experience or qualifications to start working as a proofreader, there are some essential skills necessary for the job.

Perhaps the most important one is a strong grasp of the English language, especially grammar, spelling, and punctuation. And being able to spot the odd typo isn’t enough. You’ll need to understand the rules and idiosyncrasies of the language so you can identify errors, from tiny formatting inconsistencies to incorrect subject–verb agreement.

Luckily, if you feel like you might be lacking in these skills, there are always ways to improve! These include:

In addition to polishing your language skills, you’ll find it easier to get a job as a proofreader if you can demonstrate:

  • A keen eye for detail.
  • A familiarity with word processors, such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs.
  • General IT skills.
  • Good time management and an ability to meet deadlines.
  • The ability to focus for long periods of time.
  • Knowledge of the editing process.
  • Good communication skills and experience working with customers or clients.

You’ll likely already possess some of these skills from previous jobs, education, and general life experience. And if you’d like to improve in any of these areas, there are many options for continuing professional development

2. Gain Experience Through Volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to gain experience in proofreading—it builds your skills, demonstrates your abilities, and gives you an idea of whether you’d like to become a full-time proofreader.

There are several ways you can offer your proofreading services as a volunteer:

  • Proofread for friends and family. Most people in your life will have business documents, creative writing, or other pieces of writing that need proofreading at some point. Offering your skills informally to friends and family will allow you to work on a variety of documents, without the stress a more formal job might bring.
  • Take on extra proofreading tasks at work. Your current job might provide you with opportunities to proofread. Offer to check over documents for colleagues or ask if you can get involved with other proofreading work within your company.
  • Proofread for charities and non-profit organizations. Most organizations that rely on volunteers will be happy to hear from someone offering their services, including proofreaders. Reach out to local charities with a cold email, or research larger organizations to see if they’re looking for people to check their written communications. This type of volunteering may even result in a long-term opportunity, which will provide you with plenty of experience and feedback!
  • Look for other opportunities online. There are always individuals, groups, and projects looking for volunteer proofreaders online. Distributed Proofreaders, for example, is a project that recruits volunteers to proofread public domain books so they can be converted into ebooks, while Bookshare seeks volunteers to proofread accessible books.

Of course, you should be careful not to overwhelm yourself with volunteer work. It’s important not to undervalue your skills, and while proofreading for free will help you gain experience, doing too much of it might cause you to burn out

3. Get Things Organized

Now that you’ve identified your proofreading skills and started gaining some experience, it’s time to start planning for your future career:

  • Know where to find work. To get a job as a proofreader, you first need to know where to look. Freelance sites like Upwork and Fiverr offer a huge range of opportunities and clients, though you’ll have to deal with lots of competition. Alternatively, you can look for a position with a proofreading agency. These will usually ask you to complete a series of short tests to prove your skills. 
  • Update your resume. All that volunteer experience won’t do you any good if you don’t mention it on your resume. And if you’re still lacking experience, a skills-based resume is a great way to demonstrate why you’d be a good candidate for a proofreading job. You can learn more about creating a resume as a new proofreader in this blog post.
  • Plan your career goals. SMART goals are the key to any business, whether you intend to do some proofreading work on the side or launch a full-time career as a proofreader. Decide how much time you want to spend proofreading and identify short and long-term goals. These will help you navigate your new career and act as a source of motivation!
  • Budget appropriately. With your career goals set, you can make sure your finances are in order. Think about how much money you can afford to spend on training, equipment, and a home office. If you plan on setting up your own freelance business, keep things like taxes and website hosting in mind, too.

Becoming A Proofreader

If you’re planning to work as a proofreader, make sure your skills are practiced and polished with our Becoming A Proofreader course. Comprehensive training, tutor support, and guaranteed work make it the perfect first step to a proofreading career. Still not convinced? Try it out for free.

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