How to apply for journalism jobs is something we were all supposed to learn in journalism school.
I know I sure did: you write stories, keep copies of newspapers in which your articles appeared and you clip them out and mail those with a resume to places you’d like to work. Well, even though hardly a media organization has an opening now (rather the opposite, with lots of layoffs) it’s always a good time to re-think how we apply for jobs.
I’ve prepared this quick tutorial for all the journalism students who’ve asked me how they should apply for jobs and collect clips. No, I’m not applying for another job — I’ve just gotten my online resume act together so I can share it as an example of what could be done.
The main idea here is that when any of us apply for a job in journalism we will likely be asked how we are ready to get the organization rolling into the 21st century. And, that involves online. Print or broadcast, eaast or west coast, all media organizations have realized in the last few years that no, the Internet is not just a fad and that we should learn our place in it.
Here’s my idea for the new place resumes and clips have in the journalism future:
Figure out what you want. Send messages to people you trust and respect online, via e-mail or by phone. Talk with them about what you want and be sure to listen to their advice on what you should look for, when you should look for it and what you should learn next. Be sure to ask them about your strengths and weaknesses. The main key is to listen.
Prepare your resume and clips. My best idea is that any 21st century candidate should have an online and paper resume/clip book. Here’s a link to my site. The site can be anything from one page of quick information about you with links to your past articles, to a more layered approach like my site. Here’s some ideas on how to make it happen:
- Sign up for LinkedIn.com — it’s a social networking site that focuses on your resume, recommendations and people you know. Update your print resume, then have it double and triple-checked for style, spelling and grammar and then put your resume on LinkedIn. Add people you know and ask people you trust to write reccomendations about you. Be sure to add a photo (a good quality, color photo of you) or else you’ll look kinda lame. A good idea is to have a friend who’s into photography, or a fellow journalist, take the photo. Try to have the photo look as professional as possible.
- Sign up for WordPress.com, a free blogging site. Ask a friend, teach yourself or read tutorials online about how to use the site. Add links under the blogroll section to your social networking sites (editors know you have them, so you better just send them straight to your pages), add a link to your LinkedIn resume, add your resume information as a “page” and then add stories or videos or content you’ve produced as blog posts. Then, pick from one of the many themes and customize your site with photos you’ve taken. As an aside, I made my site with my Mac computer using iWeb. I’d suggest generally using WordPress.com — because it’s free and works from any computer on which you have the Internet.
- Have trusted family, friends and colleagues look at the site and offer feedback. Check, double check and triple check style and spelling.
Look for jobs online. A great site to get started is journalismjobs.com. Also, check the sites of any local media organizations for other links to jobs or job databases. Also, keep in contact with friends at other media organizations so that you can find out early on when jobs are open.
Research that job online. Read the organization’s Web site, learn about its community, see what the current or past reporters did who had the now open position and see what experience applicants should have for that job.
Apply in the real and virtual worlds. Of course, be sure to follow any application instructions provided in the job listing. But, my idea is that you should send an e-mail to the hiring person or editor that contains a brief cover letter-like introduction about you and why you want the job. Include in that e-mail a link to your online resume and say that a paper-version of your resume and clips is in the mail.
There it is, my little guide to applying for jobs in the 21st century. Let me know if you have questions or suggestions in comments.