If you’re serious about pursuing a career in journalism, you’ll need more than an impressive resume to stand out in a sea of ambitious applicants. Opportunities in the editorial industry are more coveted and competitive than ever so you need to do everything you can to capture an employer’s attention. If you want to land that interview, you need to give them an idea of who you are, what you can do and what makes you different from the other applicants. Creating an online portfolio is the perfect way to highlight your creative talents and personality—it’s like your secret weapon for success!
What is an online portfolio? It’s essentially a personal website that showcases your work. When you apply for a writing job, including the link to your portfolio page in your resume and cover letter is a great way to increase your chances of getting noticed. We wanted to give you a little insider advice for building a killer portfolio, so we decided to go straight to the source. Faze Editor-In-Chief Lorraine Zander has seen her share of portfolios—including those of potential interns, editors, journalists, photographers and more. We sat down with Lorraine to find out exactly what makes or breaks an impressive online application.
The ability to adapt quickly and creatively is essential to a successful career in journalism. If you want your portfolio to stand out, showing variation and versatility in your writing is key. In fact, it’s one of the first things Lorraine looks for in a portfolio. “I expect to find mixed types of articles. With aspiring journalists, it’s beneficial for them to show that they can write about a variety of topics.” The ability to craft a well written article, no matter what the subject matter, is what makes you an asset to the editor. Lorraine explains, “One article in the portfolio could be on business, one could cover entertainment or sports. They should all be well written, well thought through and the content should read as if it were written by a specialist in that field.”
If you are applying for a specific position (say, a fashion reporter or entertainment blogger), Lorraine still recommends including a variety of articles in the portfolio, but suggests streamlining the subject matter so that it’s relevant to the position. “If someone who is interested in writing about music comes to Faze, then I expect to see a portfolio that is filled with a variety of extremely specific articles within that category. That could include articles on festivals, concerts, musicians, entertainment news or go even more genre-specific and cover hip hop artists, for example.”
That’s not to say you need any music moguls on speed dial to land your dream job. Even if you don’t have any published articles under your belt, you can still build a great portfolio. Lorraine’s top tip? “My advice would be to create a piece that looks like it was published, or professional enough that it could be published. Create a heading, a sub-heading, find a photograph online and present it in your portfolio as if it were ready to be read by the public. It should be thoroughly researched, accurate and well-edited.” So whether your article was written for a school project, personal blog or published in a newspaper, Lorraine assures us, it’s the content that counts. “If an article that wasn’t published is well written, it is an equally strong addition to your portfolio. An editor is looking for a writer that can create work that is ready to publish, so if the work they are seeing in the portfolio is impressive, that’s what stands out.”
Speaking of standing out, you definitely don’t want your portfolio to attract attention for the wrong reasons. Now that we know what editors like to find in a portfolio, we’ll fill you in on one thing they don’t: Careless copy editing! “A big problem for me is when I look at an online portfolio and find errors,” Lorraine tells us. “At this point, the work should be flawless. Meaning: You’ve already had someone else copy edit, you’ve had other people read it, you’ve talked to other people about adding headlines and taglines—you’re presenting perfect, fully completed work.” Luckily, there are a number of websites out there that make it easy to build an online portfolio (check out this page for some great suggestions), so you’ll be able to focus on creating fabulous, error-free articles to post on your page!
Will you be building your own online portfolio?