It may be tough to get real world work experience while you’re still in school, especially in the journalism field, but that doesn’t mean your resume can’t stand out without it. Your future employer is aware of the limited opportunities for professional experience, so it is likely that they will be focusing on different things about your resume to see if you’re the best candidate. Here are six ways to perfect your journalism resume, without focusing all your energy on getting paid-writing jobs:
1. Quality Matters
Yes, the quality of your experience is important, but I’m talking about the quality of your resume here. Andrew Hindes, President of The In-House Writer of Los Angeles copywriting firm and former journalist, advises that your resume and cover letter are “impeccably copyedited.” This means making sure there are no spelling or grammar errors, or at least not so many that your resume becomes hard to read. Although this may seem like such an obvious thing, many people just don’t realize the importance of copyediting. By having a flawlessly written resume and cover letter Hindes says you’re proving that you can write a basic piece. If there are any major mistakes, the person reading your resume will almost immediately throw it in the “no” pile.
2. Accompany Your Resume with Clips
While your resume can tell future employers what you have done, you also want to show them what you can do. “The most important thing from my perspective and other editors is the ability to write,” says Hindes. “Your clips are your #1 calling card.” Whether it is a published piece of work, a blog post, or even an essay you’re really proud of, include something that shows you can write a longer formed piece of writing. Submitting completed pieces will help whoever is considering your application see the skills you have mentioned in your cover letter in action.
3. Include Your Social Media Accounts
This one can be tricky, especially if you haven’t been careful with what you have posted online. Your social media accounts, while personal, can be used to judge you professional. Take time to review your feed make sure that your posts and shares won’t rub a potential employer off in the wrong way. Once you’re comfortable submitting the links to some of your social media accounts include them in your resume! By doing so your future employer can see who you are in everyday life and get to know you personally instead of just what is on the page. Caitlin Abber, Senior Editor of WomensHealthMag.com, says that your activity on social medias shows whether or not you can use your journalistic instincts. “You should be active on social media and developing your voice today,” Abber advises. “If a young journalist isn’t doing this, they are skipping an essential lesson on the future of journalism.”
4. Be Involved in Extracurricular Writing
Again, an obvious one, but essential in the journalism world. You want to show that you have experience in a journalistic setting and can actually write a journalistic piece. Both Abber and Hindes advise to join your school newspaper and start writing. By establishing your presence with a by-line you show that you’re a capable and published journalist.
5. Intern, Intern, Intern!
While joining your school newspaper can be a really easy way to get a taste of the journalistic lifestyle, another more professional option is interning. You may not get huge opportunities as an intern, but by showing that you can work in a professional setting and have experience in a publication you add another layer to your resume. It may be hard to get a professional internship at first, especially if you’re in high school or early university, but keep looking! Don’t go looking for the obvious placements; instead try finding some smaller publications or start-ups that don’t require you to be in third-year. The next time you’re flipping through a book or a magazine take a moment to collect the company’s contact information.
This one is not a deal breaker on resumes, but it could eventually help you out in the long-run. Hindes suggests finding your specialization in writing, whether it be entertainment, technical, food, etc, and go with it. While it may seem like it could lessen your chances at getting any journalism job, it will eventually help when you’re applying for your dream job in which the qualifications call for your specific specialty.