Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tips for Media/Journalism resumes

I ran across an interesting post on IT resumes that had some interesting ideas that would also be applicable to those entering the media/journalism job markets.
  The basic piece of advice I give is to remember that a resume is a promo/teaser for you, and your ability to do the job you're applying for.  About the worst think you can do is to flood the job market with a standard bland resume - you need to emphasize the skills and experience you have that the prospective employer is looking for.  Almost as bad is to try to make yours look flashy in order to stand out, but with that same generic bland overview.
  If you're looking for a job where you'd be producing content (news, photos, videos, websites), have examples of your best work available - but don't clog their physical mailbox with it.  Create an online portfolio someplace, and add hyperlinks or even screen captures to the resume.  Also consider sending the resume via email attachment, if that's an option, where the embedded links take them to your portfolio.
  Think about using social media as a place to emphasize your skills - LinkedIn has some powerful resume templates, and is considered to be the more professional of social media sites.  Facebook's timeline feature may be helpful as well.  (Although you might want to make sure your account is employer-friendly).  A lot of companies are using Twitter and other social networks for recruiting (89% in 2011), and media and news organizations are added Twitter and social networking skills to their wish lists. If you don't have accounts, consider getting some started.
  On Twitter, there's some interest in "twesumes", reducing the resume to 140 characters or less.  Even if you don't use it, the exercise in paring a resume to 140 characters is a good exercise in focusing on what you can offer a specific prospective employer.
  If the job wants someone with web or graphics skills, consider using those skills in creating a resume - by creating a resume in the form of an infographic, a profession-oriented personal website (not the pics from Spring Vacation) that can also serve as a portfolio, an online slide show, video resume (with examples of your work).  Think innovatively, on how you can illustrate your skills in cutting edge applications, such as coming up with an Instagram resume (doesn't just list your abilities, but illustrates how well you can apply them).
  Personnel directors stress knowing about a firm's background and tailoring your resume accordingly.  "The first thing is to really understand your audience," advises one, "even if you do not know the exact person it's going to, it's helpful to understand the company."  The people hiring "like candidates [to] cite examples of their work, either through hyperlinks or screenshots ... If you've built or created a site or application, a company will want to see your work. Sometimes that's just as important as the resume itself."
  However, there's a fine line between standing out and looking silly - so make sure that what you present looks good and provides the information needed.  While the focus for many media/news entry level jobs is on skills, remember that you're also promoting yourself, and your ability to learn and grow beyond that first job.  If you have a professional history (even if it's as a volunteer or intern), provide it.  When appropriate, use it to show professional growth.  Make the application personal, by customizing the resume to the job, if possible, and if not, by using the cover letter to stress how your background fits their needs.
  Humor's fine, if you have the skills and experience to back it up (and that the details of those skills and experience also comes through). Aesthetics are also important; a post on Mashable notes that "resumes that visually feel like they will take a long time to read usually get put aside."  This is particularly true when a lot of that content is not relevant to the job at hand.
   Now just throwing a graphic on a resume or using humor to grab attention and stand out won't necessarily set your resume apart in a good way. "There has to be some thought behind the message you want to send. When incorporating design elements, remember to keep on task and consider the reader’s first impression."
  In sum, tailor your application (cover letter and resume) to the job and organization, and where appropriate, let the resume and online portfolio demonstrate your skills and abilities - particularly those they are looking for.
  And make sure to proof things before sending them out.  Errors can be deadly in this context.

Sources - 9 Tips: Make Your IT Resume Stand OutInformation Week
9 Dynamic Digital Resumes That Stand Out From the Crowd,


  1. Prof. Bates - thank you for the insight. I've used some of what you mentioned in my interviews last week, and I was hired on the spot. I tailored my resume specifically for the open position.
    I did run into some trouble, though. I'm going into media sales, but my major is Journalism and Electronic Media. I met with a sales manager who told me that my resume would probably not have been one that he would have picked out immediately. How do you suggest we get past the assumption that all JEM majors want to be journalists?

    -Ashley Logeman

  2. I agree with Ashley. I am also a journalism major who is also going into a different field. I am going into television (not news) writing and production. Do you have any suggestions for how to highlight your college career if you aren't wanting to be a reporter? What aspects would you suggest highlighting for the future? Production experience with television news and radio?

  3. These are some great tips and I am glad you shared some insight, I have been struggling lately trying to perfect my resume and these tips have really helped make it better. Hopefully these changes bring about a great job, soon. Thanks again for sharing!

  4. The issue of shifting fields, or in many cases, sub-fields within a general official major, is not that uncommon. Here's some ways to handle it -
    Use the cover letter to address the change, emphasizing how things learned in one area are helpful in the (different) job field. You can also indicate, in listing education, an area of emphasis along with the official degree//major info.
    In addition, this is one situation where adding a career goal to the resume, and putting it in a prominent spot can be helpful.
    I'm sure others have ideas and tips to share.

  5. The thing about resumes is that you have to make them be a reflection of who you are as a person and what you've done that makes you a worthy candidate for the job. Be personable. Include a joke or two. make sure the employer knows exactly what they're getting by hiring you.