You’ll need to create a resume before you start applying for jobs.
- The trick is to produce an easy-to-read, one-page document that provides your contact information, details on your past employment and journalism experience, awards and special skills. Most employers will spend only a few seconds reading it. You want to leave a good impression by being accurate, concise and direct.
- We encourage you to also post your resume online using a blogging tool, such as WordPress or Blogger (although you might not want to list your home address or phone number on this Web version). However, don’t send a print-out of your online version by mail or fax. It won’t look as professional as one created on paper. Create a separate word or rich text version for mailing.
- It’s OK to design a resume using a graphics program, but make sure you also have a plain-vanilla version that can be easily e-mailed to an employer, using Microsoft Word (which offers a number of resume templates), rich text or PDF, for instance. (It won’t matter how pretty your resume looks if the employer cannot open the file.)
- A journalism resume must be a single page.
- Avoid using “I” or other personal pronouns.
- Break up your resume with small subheads for each major category under your name and contact info. Subheads might include: Education, Journalism Experience, Other Work Experience, Awards and Honors, Memberships, Specialized Skills.
- Do include what degree you are seeking and when you expect to graduate in the Education area; include your GPA if it is a 3.5 or better. Do spell the name of our college and university correctly. (One out of every 20 resumes I see misspell Philip Merrill.)
- List activities and jobs in reverse chronological order within each of these categories.
- Use 12-point type for the body of your resume – don’t reduce the type. If an employer has to squint or strain, she may not bother to read it. Use a bit larger font for your name and subheads, and bold them. Stay away from hard-to-read fonts. Choose only one or two font styles for the whole page and be consistent. All subheads should be in the same font style; all body type should be in the same font style. If your achievements don’t fit onto one page, write more concisely.
- Use white space efficiently. Use bullets and indentations sparingly.
- Objective sentences are unnecessary on resumes when applying for journalism jobs. You will discuss your objectives in your cover letter.
- Use past tense to describe past experiences. Use present tense for the activities that are ongoing at the time you are sending your resume.
- Be specific and be honest! Don’t claim to be a staff writer for a campus publication if you only attended one meeting. Also, don’t say you are “currently” working for a publication or news station if you are taking a semester break.
- Taylor your job objective for a cover letter. Don’t put something generic on your resume.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread. Typos or grammatical errors will cost you jobs.
More on the resume categories:
Contact information: Be sure your name is bold and in larger type than the rest. Use the address where you will most likely be receiving mail (rather than having it forwarded to you,) the phone with the most reliable message system and the e-mail address you check most often. For instance:
1111 Turtle Lane, College Park, Md. 20742
Home: 301-555-1122; Cell: 240-111-6666
If you are serious about looking for a job, be sure your voice mail and e-mail address reflect your intentions. (In other words, remove the musical intro on your voice mail and avoid cutesy or suggestive e-mails addresses.) Once you’ve sent your resume, be sure to regularly check your e-mail as well as your phone for messages.
Education: List your university, the degree you are seeking and the anticipated date of graduation. You may also list a great GPA – 3.5 or better. If you have a citation from an academic honors program such as Gemstone or College Park Scholars or have studied abroad for a semester or two, you should list that here, as well.
University of Maryland, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, College Park, Md. Double major in journalism and political science. GPA: 3.8. B.A. anticipated in May 2011.
Journalism Experience: List what you did, where you did it and when. Also include a line that tells the employer the size and type of publication, the Web site usage or the market of the broadcast station. To make the text stand out, use italics and bolding sparingly. For example:
Statehouse reporter, Capital News Service, Annapolis, Md. – September to December 2010.
Covered the Maryland General Assembly as part of a university-run wire service with more than 74 clients. Focused on clean and alternative energy.
News editor, The Diamondback, College Park, Md. – January to May 2010.
Served as chief news editor for university’s independent daily student newspaper with circulation of 17,000. Oversaw a staff of 10 reporters.
Other Work Experience: Here’s where your list summer jobs, on-campus or part-time positions and other volunteer activities. Don’t hesitate to put that waitress or sales clerk position down – it shows you can juggle work and school and understand the value of a job. Any mentoring and tutoring experiences should go here, too.
Specialized Skills: A good category to include, but only if you’ve got some. Don’t put Microsoft Word. That’s not specialized. But if you are familiar with a particular broadcast editing system such as Avid, or have proficiency with Web editing tools such as Dreamweaver or WordPress, photo editing tools such as Photoshop, audio editing tools such as Adobe Audition or Audacity, video editing tools such as Final Cut, interactive Web tools such as Flash; or have studied computer-assisted reporting with Ira Chinoy; or speak Spanish or another language fluently, put it down! The rule of thumb is – if it makes you stand out from the other candidates, it’s worth including on your resume.
References: Place a list of references on a separate sheet, with all your contact information from your resume at the top. These sheets should MATCH your resume; same font styles and sizes.
Who should be a reference? Previous/current employers, professors, adults who know you well and can speak to your character. Never include other students. Make sure you have asked your references if they mind getting a call from a potential employer — and if the can say good things about you. If using a professor, use those who taught classes in which you earned an A or B.
Include each reference’s name, title, company, work phone number and e-mail address at a minimum. If you can, also include work addresses for each.
Include three to five references on your sheet, unless specifically told otherwise.
Letters of reference are nice but they aren’t necessary, unless specifically requested by the employer.
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