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Calling all hiring editors: What do you look for in a resume?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by StephenBailey, Oct 8, 2012.

  1. StephenBailey

    StephenBailey New Member

    Hey all, I realize there have been a couple posts regarding this, but I wanted to ask a few specific questions as I'm in the process of editing my resume.

    - Does experience have to be listed chronologically? I can never seem to figure out what I want to put first. Should a good freelance gig at a major daily go ahead of a regular position at a weekly?
    - Should freelance work by listed separately?
    - Should recommendations by included, or should you wait for them to be requested?
    - What background info should be listed for each publication (i.e. location, distribution, etc.)?
    - What is worth including under 'skills?' I currently have specific capabilities (i.e. AP style) and applications (i.e. HTML), but are 'deadline writing' and 'feature writing' worth including? Or is it better to let those skills, or lack thereof, show in your cover letter and clips?

    Other than that, any general things you look for or tips would be greatly appreciated. Non-hiring editors are obviously welcome to respond too ;)
     
  2. I'll never tell

    I'll never tell Active Member

    I may be different than a lot of people, but I look at the clips first. I don't really care where folks went to school or where they did their internship ... it's can you tell a story.

    that being said.
    1. I like for them to be.
    2. Never really seen it this way, but that probably not a horrible idea. Don't list them all, though. Just the ones your proud of.
    3. Never wait for me to request anything. Just list them. It's not a whole lot of extra effort on your part. I don't know who started the whole leaving them out thing, but it sucks. I've always wondered if folks do that just so they can gauge whether or not somebody's interested.
    4. I like circulation size. It helps me to tell if folks are working their way up the ladder or if they're just making lateral moves.
    5. I think you only put the above average stuff on "skills." Especially don't put "ap style" ... I may be wrong, but if you don't know AP style, it'll show in your clips. Do you shoot video? What program do you use to edit? Most of the time, too, if i get around to that and notice that that person is a recent college graduate, I pretty much assume they know Twitter. And honestly, who can't be taught Twitter in 4 minutes?

    Do this when you sending your next batch off: Think for 48 hours about what makes you different and makes you better than the next guy. Find a way to point that stuff out to me.
     
  3. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty New Member

    - Does experience have to be listed chronologically? I can never seem to figure out what I want to put first. Should a good freelance gig at a major daily go ahead of a regular position at a weekly? -- always chronologically.
    - Should freelance work by listed separately? -- always chronologically with your full-time gig coming first.
    - Should recommendations by included, or should you wait for them to be requested? -- always give three references.
    - What background info should be listed for each publication (i.e. location, distribution, etc.)? -- name of rag, city, state, circ. if you wish.
    - What is worth including under 'skills?' I currently have specific capabilities (i.e. AP style) and applications (i.e. HTML), but are 'deadline writing' and 'feature writing' worth including? Or is it better to let those skills, or lack thereof, show in your cover letter and clips? -- we all write in ap style with deadlines. go along the line of something like this: i covered 22 high schools, 4 colleges and three professional teams. i wrote features, columns, game stories and enterprise pieces while designing section fronts and inside pages. (and then fill in with some more shit that you do around the office.)

    Other than that, any general things you look for or tips would be greatly appreciated. Non-hiring editors are obviously welcome to respond to -- you really don't have to tell the people you put down as references that you're putting them down as references right now if it's going to put you into a bind. nobody is going to call your references until you get at least one phone interview. but once you do get that phone interview, you best be asking some folks if it's OK if you use them as a reference ... yeah, kind of a dicey prop., but if you're as young as i think you are, you just might have to roll those dice because you probably don't have all those many references. and you probably don't want to piss them off by letting them know you're looking.

    there's my two cents.
     
  4. EisenbergA

    EisenbergA New Member

    Hi, I've done a good bit of hiring in Features, but also in Sports over the past few years, so hopefully I can help:

    Does experience have to be listed chronologically? I can never seem to figure out what I want to put first. Should a good freelance gig at a major daily go ahead of a regular position at a weekly?

    In my opinion, experience should always be listed chronologically. You want a hiring editor to easily be able to scan your experience and see your progression. I would not separate out different types of positions. It's all work experience and I think I speak for most hiring editors when I see the easiest way to make sense of it is to see it in chronological order.

    - Should freelance work by listed separately?

    I would not separate freelance work from regular work. I would include freelance jobs chronologically along with all other work experience.

    - Should recommendations by included, or should you wait for them to be requested?

    I would include as much as you can with your resume and cover letter. Keep in mind that, especially these days, hiring editors are getting literally hundreds of applications for each position, and they have to sort through these on top of their normal daily responsibilities. That means there's really not a lot of time to follow up with every applicant asking for more documentation. Submit as much as you can at first and it will make life a lot easier for the hiring editor. Doing this will also help your application stand out over less complete application packages.

    - What background info should be listed for each publication (i.e. location, distribution, etc.)?

    Location is definitely important, and what's also important is to convey the size of the publication, which you can do in a few different ways. If any of your work is from a major daily or weekly that has a legitimate national footprint, simply listing the name and location is enough, as the editor will recognize the name and fill in the blanks. Outside of that, I'd suggest listing circulation size, and if possible, some kind of descriptor about the publication that gives just a little more insight, like whether it was a rural, urban, suburban or community publication. That helps give the editor a better idea of the tone of the publication, in addition to the size.

    - What is worth including under 'skills?' I currently have specific capabilities (i.e. AP style) and applications (i.e. HTML), but are 'deadline writing' and 'feature writing' worth including? Or is it better to let those skills, or lack thereof, show in your cover letter and clips?

    Under skills, you should really focus on the skills that set you apart from other candidates, as well as focus on the skills that you think the hiring organization puts the most value in. I would not put skills like "deadline writing" as that's not really an "above and beyond" skill, but rather a basic responsibility of a reporter. In thinking about what organizations value today, I'd really focus on highlighting any digital skills you have, and make sure you are specific, since skill levels can vary and you want to be clear about what you can offer. Instead of just listing HTML, for example, list either basic HTML or advanced HTML. Basic HTML tells an editor you can add some basic tags, which may or may not be that useful depending on whether they use an automated content management system that does that work for you, but advanced HTML tells an editor you might be able to pitch in on various online projects, which could be much more useful.
     
  5. - What is worth including under 'skills?' I currently have specific capabilities (i.e. AP style) and applications (i.e. HTML), but are 'deadline writing' and 'feature writing' worth including? Or is it better to let those skills, or lack thereof, show in your cover letter and clips?

    I think most people are going to have similar answers for the other questions, so I'll focus on this one. Agreed that there are some basic skills that you should have if you are in this profession. Handling deadline pressure, knowing AP style, programs you are familiar with using, etc. I still think you need to include this information but it's not really what I look for in this question. It puts me at ease to see it, though. For me, I want to know what you have done, and I don't want to see a grocery list of accomplishments.

    For instance, I like to see that you worked on a website redesign, but it's even better if you include what impact it had on increased web traffic. You revamped you web football coverage, which led to a 150% increase on traffic to your site from a year ago that same time. You spearheaded a revamped football tab with new features? Great. Some of the added features led to increased ad sales from a year ago? Much better. You participated in social media surge with other reporters? It's necessary to know. But show me a progression in your number of followers since you started to where you are now? That gives me something to chew on.

    Really, all of this is important. Because as others have said, we want to know what makes you stand out in a large group. But you show us what impact you had in those areas . . . to me, that really helps you to stand out and show you are prepared for your next opportunity.
     
  6. StephenBailey

    StephenBailey New Member

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Just to give you a little perspective, I am a student journalist with a couple part-time gigs and a fairly regular freelance publication.

    This tidbit is particularly helpful. Thanks!

    Also, just to be clear, I have 'Skills' section separate from 'Experience.' So I do list my coverages and responsibilities for each publication there.

    I currently have my 'Skills' section split into two, like this:
    Proficient: XXXXXXXXX
    Knowledgable: XXXXXXXXX

    Is it worth just making one list? I only have a couple programs under 'Knowledgeable.'

    As far as coding goes, I'm comfortable putting down advanced HTML. As far as CSS goes, though, what qualifies as advanced? I can go into the coding of a website and edit pretty successfully. I've never taken a class, but run a Wordpress-backed site that's run with CSS coding. I did not build the site, but have a pretty good understanding of how the back- and front-ends relate.

    As a younger writer, I haven't really made many quantifiable impacts on projects like that. I did include some specifics regarding my work at my college paper though.
     
  7. CarlSpackler

    CarlSpackler Member

    Which circulation size should be listed? The one when you started, or the one that is 5,000 less now but is no fault of your own?
     
  8. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    What I'm looking for in a resume, and I think every hiring manager has this in common: A reason to say "no."

    Give me an easy reason to say no, and I can go onto the next resume in the stack.
     

  9. Don't put it in. It makes you seem like a small-timer right off the bat, even though you may be a great journalist.
     
  10. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    Donning my Captain Obvious cape (as Mrs. E likes to call it)
    In addition to all of the above advice, there are two other pieces of advice for your resume (or any resume for that matter):
    - Don't spell anything wrong.
    - Don't have any grammatical errors or punctuation errors

    If you have errors like that in your resume it simply shows the hiring editor that you don't care about the quality of your work.
     
  11. Should you use AP style for cover letter/resume?
     
  12. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    My copy-editor wife corrects my *spoken* grammar for AP style (it's not "Native American," it's "American Indian," dangit), so it's pretty well ingrained into me. I don't think I know how to write any other way.
     
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