Recent graduates, don’t fret. You will eventually land the job you have dreamed of. There will likely be a few twists and turns along the way. The career path nowadays, and particularly in journalism, is anything but linear. Below are tips from Chapter 8, Mobile and Social Media in Your Career.
Finding Job and Internship Leads
Start now to plan your career path. In college, explore the job listings and descriptions in the journalism field. Decide what your postcollege career goals are, and use the job descriptions as guides to the skills and qualifications you’ll need.
Part of that plan should be at least one internship in a newsroom. The earlier you set foot in a newsroom, the better. Internships give you a taste of newsroom culture and the different journalism positions, as well as connections to industry professionals. Internship experiences can help you decide the type of newsroom where you’d ideally like to work and the position you can see yourself in. And those internships often lead to jobs!
- News outlets’ websites. Search the job postings section on the websites of news outlets.
- Media company websites. Make a list of media companies that own news outlets, and then check the career/employment section of their websites. Each media company’s site typically has a listing of open positions for the company’s news operations in different markets.
- General internet search. Using a search engine is a good starting point. Look for job websites, such as Indeed.com, that aggregate search results from all over the web. Advanced search functionality will help to pinpoint what you’re looking for.
- Professional organizations. The websites of professional journalism organizations have job boards. These groups include the Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Access to some of these job boards is restricted to members only.
- Social networking sites. Follow the Twitter accounts of media companies. Many have separate Twitter accounts dedicated to job postings for their news outlets. In addition, there are Twitter accounts, such as @MEOjobs, that share openings from across the media industry. Consider creating a Twitter list for job and internship leads. Also, search for LinkedIn Company Pages of news outlets where you’d love to work and the companies that own them. Company Pages have a section for job and internship openings. Click “Follow Company” to get regular updates, including job postings, in your LinkedIn news feed. When on a company’s LinkedIn page, you can see if you’re connected to current or former employees there. Another great feature of LinkedIn is the Find Alumni section, which allows you to search for alumni of your school and narrow down the results by location, type of industry, and company where they work. You could, for instance, use this feature to find and make a connection with an alumnus who is employed at a news outlet where you’d like to work. Finally, don’t forget about LinkedIn’s robust Jobs section where you can search for employment opportunities.
- Faculty. Your journalism instructors are an important, yet sometimes overlooked, resource in job and internship hunts. Many faculty members have been working journalists and still maintain strong ties with the industry. Touch base with your faculty advisor and other professors as you map out your career plans. As mentors, they can provide guidance on everything from your resume to contacts in newsrooms where you’d like to intern or work.
- Career centers. Become familiar with the staff and services at your school’s career center. Career center counselors provide guidance in your internship and job hunt and facilitate networking with alumni and prospective employers. Campus career centers maintain a database of internship and job opportunities, often provided to them by alumni interested in hiring someone from their alma mater. Once you graduate and progress through your career, don’t forget about your school’s career center. These offices also assist alumni with career development and job opportunities.
- Networking. As you grow your network of contacts, those people should become an important part of your professional development. Maintain relationships with those whom you’ve met at internships and through other networking opportunities. As you look for career opportunities, reach out to them. But don’t simply rely on them when you’re in need of a job. Check in with them periodically to build and maintain a relationship. For example, ask them to review your portfolio of work once a year. Most journalists will be more than willing to lend a hand. They’ve been in your spot before and are happy to provide mentorship. Remember, despite all the technology at our fingertips, there’s no replacement for one-on-one conversations. Schedule a phone chat or meet in person periodically.
Journalism Fellowships: Most major news outlets have fellowship programs to recruit and train the very best journalists. Open to recent graduates, the fellowships are highly competitive and can lead to permanent employment with the company at the end of the program. The Hearst Journalism Fellowship, for example, consists of two 12-month rotations at Hearst’s top metro papers and websites. The fellowship focuses on digital innovation, multiplatform storytelling, andcreating experiences that let audiences get involved with reporting. This list of fellowships, though a bit dated, is a solid starting point: Media and Journalism Fellowships.
Keep your resume to one page. Don’t oversell, get to the point, and make sure the layout is easy to follow. Your resume should be an accurate reflection of your education, experiences, and skills up to this point in your career. Proofread. It’s unlikely you’ll be taken seriously if your resume has spelling and grammatical errors. Remember, this is journalism after all. Get feedback from mentors and have your school’s career service office review your resume.
You’ll want to bring paper copies of your resume to job interviews. But, the electronic version is more important nowadays. Make your resume accessible online. The best way to do this is by embedding your resume on your website, rather than attaching a file. Displaying it within a webpage is more visually appealing. To embed a document on most websites, you first must upload your resume to a site that allows you to host documents, such as Slideshare.net. Then, copy the embed code to your website. The other option is to copy and paste the text from a word document directly into a page on your website. Keep in mind, sometimes this doesn’t look the most appealing.
- Heading with name, address, phone number, e-mail address, link to your website, and Twitter handle. To avoid clutter, it’s not recommended you include all social media profiles. For resumes posted publicly, remove your home address.
- Relevant experience, including paid positions, internships, and student media roles. Don’t forget to include the dates of each position and several bullet points about your responsibilities. If you contributed to a journalism project, such as a multimedia website, as part of a course, list that as well. Explain in a bullet point which class it was part of.
- Education section with school name, title of major and minor degrees, years of attendance, and any honors received.
- Skills section should include knowledge you have of multimedia hardware (photo, audio, and video equipment) and software (editing programs such as Adobe Premiere). This is also where you want to highlight your savvy with mobile and social media. There’s no need to list every social networking platform. Instead, list broader skills that employers are in need of, for example, social media optimization and social media analytics. Knowledge of foreign languages should also go in this section.
- Other sections to include, if applicable to you: honors and awards, community service, and memberships in professional organizations, such as your school’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
- Keywords from a job description are important to include in a resume, because sometimes a staff member from an outlet’s human resources department is the first to review resumes. Staff scan for keywords when choosing resumes that make it to the next round.
- Do not include “references available upon request.” Of course, you’ll need to pass along the names and contact information of references. Instead, list three references on a second page that includes the same heading you used for your resume. First, ask those people if it’s alright to list them. As a courtesy, keep them updated when you actually land an interview. That way they know to expect a call or e-mail from a newsroom.
Your cover letter is an opportunity to write a narrative about your interest in the position and your background, and how these align with the position you’re applying for. The cover letter is not intended to repeat what’s in your resume, but rather to expand on it. Keep the cover letter to one page. The cover letter also gives hiring managers a sense of your writing abilities and style.
- Do not start the letter with “To Whom It May Concern.” Find out the name of the hiring manager, and address the letter to him or her.
- In the opening paragraph, explain where you are now and why you’re applying for the position.
- If you have a connection with the outlet—for example, if you interned there or an alumnus who works there told you about the position—put that early in the letter.
- Tailor the letter. Hiring managers should get a sense of your passion for the industry and what excites you about the outlet and the position.
- Highlight your digital skills. Tell about how you used mobile devices and social media during the reporting process for one or two stories you’ve covered.
- Just as you would with a story you’re writing, edit and proofread.