Tips for the graduating journalism student

For many graduating journalism seniors, now is the time to perfect resumes and cover letters. Personally, I’ve been on the hunt for possible jobs and internships since January, and I’ve had a few nibbles.

But, along the way I kept changing and updating my resume and tailoring it and my cover letters to each different job or internship I applied for. And while I’m no expert on the matter, I’ve done plenty of research in order to make myself seem like a great candidate.

  1. Make yourself “Google-able.” Let’s face it, employers are going to Google you, and instead of completely hiding all of your social media, it’s time to start thinking about what’s good about social media. If you have good content on your Twitter or Facebook, it’s going to pay off when future employers see that you know how to conduct yourself online and use social media to promote news and engage with an audience. If you keep any blogs (such the ones for PRNJ 493E), employers can see blog, commenting and writing experience.
  2. Design your resume. For those who have experience using design software it is simple – use it. Employers will want to see that you’re creative and savvy enough to put together a professional document that not only represents your accomplishments, but demonstrates your skills. When designing, try to stick to one page unless you’re going for a CV type resume. Don’t go overboard, but keep it simple, clean and make sure it will catch your readers eye and keep it. Don’t center the text because that’s now how it is meant to be read.
  3. Get an online portfolio. This is very simple to set up. I suggest making a blog with WordPress, Blogger or Weebly. Pick a professional theme and make it as simple as possible. Include perhaps a Twitter timeline to show off media savvy skills and tweet news content you are publishing. This is also a good place to upload a PDF of your resume, a generic cover letter (maybe) and your clips or links to published work. If you have designed before, upload PDFs of them or include links to where they can be found.
  4. AP Style.  If you have “proficient with AP style” anywhere on your resume, then you need to prove it. This is easy and if you’re an editor in any capacity you’re going to care about this anyway. But, double check the stylebook just to be safe.

Greg Linch, a journalist at the Washington Post, combines his personal blog with his resume/portfolio site. And while his list is a bit old, it’s a good reference for how to promote yourself as a journalist. JournoTerrorist also has some rules to avoid when making a resume. They also have an interesting takes on what you should and shouldn’t do as a college journalist.


  1. These are some great tips! After designing a resume and setting up an online portfolio, I would ask professors, or other professionals in whatever field you’d like to go into to check out your work and critique. It’s likely they’ll know what employers for that kind of work are looking for and they can make sure you include things that will boost your resume and avoid things that will be a detriment to your marketability. WVU students can call the Career Services Center at 304-293-2221 to schedule an individual appointment with a Career Counselor to review their resume, or they can bring their resume and request a critique. More information for help with resume writing can be found at the Career services Center webstie

  2. Good tips here, Erin! I would also suggest following/friending your ideal dream jobs on Twitter or Facebook, especially if you’re looking into a job that might involve social media. Not only will this give you updates (and potentially leads on jobs) at places you’d love to work, but it’ll also give you a leg up on the competition. Not that this will make you stand out too far from the competition, but it makes the employer say “Hm, this person is genuinely interested in the job.”

    I know this from experience. When I was doing some hiring for one of my other jobs, my boss said to go through the applications, see who has friended/liked/followed us, keep those applications, throw out the others who haven’t. And that was one easy way to narrow down our decision. I know that might seem a little jarring, but if your job involves social media, you better be sure you’re already on the ball.

  3. These are some great tips and as a broadcast student I cant emphasize the importance of keeping your online portfolio up to date. Where tapes used to be how we applied for jobs now you can email any prospective employer every video story and project you’ve been involved in. Keeping this up to date is so important and has helped several of my already graduated friends in the application process.
    Candace’s tip is helpful too; while I follow companies I’m interested in I never thought it would make that large of an impact. I’ll be going through my twitter this afternoon and making sure I’ve got everywhere I want to apply to covered!

  4. Good call on getting the job hunting process started in January. The head start is important, and it will definitely give you an edge. I agree with Candace that following potential employers on Twitter is a great idea. Starting interacting with them ASAP. Networking is the key to getting your foot in the door, so be creative. Interview your potential employers for articles. Write about their work on your blog and give them a notification that their content interests you.

    Everyone is doing resumes and cover letters. You need to do everything you can to separate yourself.

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