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Resume and Interviewing Tips

Resume-Interview-WorkshopA few pointers

  • Keep the resume to one page. Tailor it to the job you’re applying for. If necessary, pare some entries to make room for the fleshing out of other entries.
  • Write your resume for a journalist who would supervise the job you want, not for a human resources director
  • Don’t oversell yourself or otherwise create a false picture.
  • No “summary” statement at the top.
  • Don’t leave any unexplained gaps (explain the gap in the accompanying cover letter).
  • Edit and proofread (have another set of eyes check your work).

Content (From Top to Bottom)

  • CONTACT INFORMATION: Put your name, current phone numbers, home address and e-mail address at the top of the page; include Twitter handle and/or your website where you showcase your work.
  • “OBJECTIVE”: Should you include one? That depends. But for the most part, no (too vague). Use your cover letter instead
  • EDUCATION: Put this section next only if you have no prior journalism experience.
  • EXPERIENCE: Include what you’ve published while in J-School. List your jobs in reverse chronological order within each section. Title first; then the name of the employer (publication, website, broadcast outlet or company); city and state; and the dates you worked (month and year). List your beats and mention any prize-winning or cover stories. Avoid the dreaded “Responsibilities included…” Give the frequency and description of the publication.
  • SKILLS: Include knowledge of multimedia hardware and software, as well as of content management systems and web design. Foreign-language skills go in this section.
  • HONORS AND AWARDS: List journalism-related honors and other awards related to the job you seek. Nothing from high school.
  • PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS: If you belong to any journalism-related organizations, put them here.
  • INTERESTS: Include this category only if your activities are noteworthy and relate to the job or internship you’re seeking.
  • REFERENCES: Don’t put “References available upon request” at the end of your resume.

Format

  • Keep your resume to one page.
  • Use white or off-white 8½-by-11-inch paper.
  • Choose a font that’s easy to read, even at a small size. (Not too small. Keep it between 10 and 12 pt.)
  • Don’t justify the margins. Use a ragged right margin, which is easier on the eye.
  • Don’t clutter the page with borders or little icons.
  • Set off key information — job titles, organization names and section headings — with boldface, italics or all capital letters.
  • For consistency, follow AP Style rules.

Interviews

  • Do Your Homework: Learn everything you can about the company.
  • Arrive at least 10 minutes early. If the interview is an unfamiliar location, scope it out ahead of time and don’t get lost and arrive late.
  • Dress professionally — it shows respect for the organization.
  • Greet the interviewer with a firm, palm-to-palm handshake that is neither limp nor crushing.
  • Come Prepared! Pack extra copies of your resume, reference list and clips or demo reel, as well as a pad and pen to take notes.
  • Come with a ready-made “elevator pitch” that tells the interviewer in 30-60 seconds who you are and why you are the perfect person for the job.
  • Be Yourself: The best interview is a conversation — not an interrogation.
  • Know the answers before the questions are asked.
  • Be ready to talk about yourself.
  • Be ready to answer why you want to work for this media outlet.
  • Be ready to answer why they should hire you.
  • Be ready to answer where you’d like to be in your career in five, 10 or 20 years.
  • Be ready to answer to talk about a story you covered that went well (or badly).
  • Be ready to answer to talk about how you would cover a story in the news if worked for that media outlet.
  • Have an answer to: what did you learn from any mistakes you’ve made?
  • Have an answer to: how well do you handle deadline pressure?
  • Have a list ready of the publications do you read and the news you watch or listen too.
  • Have a sense of whether you’d be willing to move.
  • The one question you should not ask in an initial interview: How much does this job pay? Always let the employer bring up salary first.

Follow Up

  • As the interview winds down, repeat your strong interest in the position and ask what the next step is. Shake hands and thank the recruiter.
  • The minute you get home, e-mail the interviewer a brief thank-you note.

Primary source: CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

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