While each panel member had different points of focus, the result of the discussion was a great checklist that journalists looking for a new job (or a first job) should find valuable. So here is a handy list of points made by myself or my colleagues on the panel.
1. An objective statement is a plus, but just a phrase, please. Bill made a great point, that sometimes resumes end up in a pile, only to be revisited later when the hiring manager may have forgotten what job you were applying for. A simple phrase as an objective statement up top, such as “Business beat reporter” can immediately spark the ir memory. The flip side: A long rambling objective statement can turn off the reader before they’ve even gotten to your experience.
2. Don’t bury the lede, put your news experience up top. Career counselors may tell you that your education should be listed above your work experience, but in the case of a journalism job, hiring editors want to see your news experience first since in this profession especially it’s the on-the-job training that shapes journalists most. List your education under your experience.
3. Of course reporters interview sources and meet tight deadlines. Avoid listing the obvious when you are describing your work history. Focus on achievements, special projects and awards.
4. At this point, Microsoft Office is not a skill you need to list. It’s expected that you know how to create docs, spreadsheets and presentations. Listing Google Office could be helpful since its collaborative, could-based elements are a bit more vanguard and are being implemented by businesses.
5. Social media is more than a skill. Your Twitter and Facebook pages are how you interact with the world publicly online. Listing your URLs near your contact info makes it clear that you see the value.
6. Obviously, no typos. Enough said.
7. Write everywhere you can. This is especially true if you’re just starting out. Having been the editor of your campus newspaper is a great thing, but the minute you enter the “real world” realm of journalism all of your new experience immediately trumps what you did on campus. Lead with your internships, freelance gigs, entry-level news jobs and if you need clips be tireless in your quest to build them up.
8. If you’re Webby, show me. If you want to work for a digital medium, make sure you can show the hiring manager how you fit in with the other Web-heads out there. That means going beyond an active Facebook and Twitter feed. Do you blog? Run a Tumblr, have a YouTube page? You don’t need to participate in every single platform, but at least know about them and how you think they fit into the realm of journalism.
9. For broadcast applicants, your video says it all. Allison explained how important video clips are for scoring a broadcast job. The energy and clarity in how you deliver news on camera needs to be polished.
10. But when it comes down to it, passion seals the deal. Interestingly all three of us on the panel described how often we knew after only talking to a job applicant for five minutes that we’d give them the job. That’s because their passion always came through, because they spoke with excitement about past assignments or lit up when they discussed the myriad ideas they had for the position. Journalism is in a tough spot. Print media is fading as readers move online while Web news companies are still adjusting their business plans to be able to fund news organizations without the hefty print ad money. It takes passion to push this industry into its next chapter, and those who are doing the hiring know that.