Resources

Resume Basics

Your resume is more than a list of places you’ve worked and your education. It’s the first step in persuading an employer to hire you. Here are some general guidelines:

  • The standard length for a resume is one page
  • Use clear and bold headings for each section
  • Use the same 11- or 12-point font size for the body of the resume
  • List the most relevant experience and quantify any achievements
  • Be selective when bolding, underlining or italicizing words (typically, you reserve these attention grabbing techniques for the names of companies or institutions)
  • Be consistent when it comes to formatting. If you start an item with the company name in bold then italicize the job title, do that throughout.
  • Include dates (month and year) in your experience section and follow the AP Stylebook if you are abbreviating.
  • When describing your work, begin each line with a strong action verb. Act as if you began the sentence with “I.” (For example, “Researched and fact-checked articles”)
  • If writing about a current job, use present tense action verbs (i.e., report on X). For previous jobs, use past tense (reported on X)

Resume Key Sections

Name & Contact Information Use your current/school address. Include your name, address, email, phone number and, if relevant, web page or Twitter handle. Your name should be the largest thing on the page; the second largest is your contact info.

Education Include (1) university and location, (2) graduation date or projected graduation date or dates of attendance, (3) double major or degree received, as well as any minors, specialization or focus, (4) honors, (5) overseas academic experience.

Experience Include a section on “Journalism Experience” or, if you’re new to journalism, use “Work Experience.” You can also break up your experience into separate sections: “Journalism Experience” and “Other Work Experience.” List jobs in reverse chronological order, giving priority to positions most relevant to journalism. List jobs as well as internships and freelance work with your correlating title (you can use the title “Contributor”), and the dates you were there. Be concise with each job description and highlight details that apply to the new job. Mention results and accomplishments.

Skills List any languages, computer, software, multimedia or technical skills

Interests If it fits or is relevant, include volunteer work, extracurricular activities or hobbies; these can be conversation-starters during an interview

Cover Letter Basics

[Include only if uploading letter or mailing it]
Address
News Organization
Street Address
City, State Zip Code

Date [Include only if uploading letter or mailing it]

Salutation
Dear Mr. or Dear Ms. X. (If you’re not certain who will be reading it, address the letter to “Dear Hiring Manager”)

Lead Paragraph
Your lead should be creative and descriptive. Give them a nugget about who you are and why you’re writing. (Example: Are you looking for a high-energy reporter who speaks Spanish, can multitask and thrives on telling compelling stories? That’s what I’d like to bring to X newspaper.)

Why You Paragraph
This is the heart of your letter. In three to six sentences, explain how your experiences have shaped you and made you qualified for the job. Talk about accomplishments or share an anecdote — do not simply rehash your resume — and if you are responding to a job post discuss how your specific skills relate to the job requirements. (For example, you can talk about your covering a breaking news story and how that showed your editor you thrive under pressure, or how your research skills led to an important story.)

Why Them Paragraph
Now that you’ve hooked them with your lead and told them about your experience and specific skill set, take a few sentences to describe your interest in the media company/outlet. Emphasize your knowledge about them (based on your research) talk about why their particular content or approach to journalism appeals to you.

Conclusion Paragraph
Keep this simple. Thank them for their time and consideration. You can also let them know you are available for an interview.

Closing
Use “Sincerely” or “Best.” On the second line type your full name and below, on separate lines, your email and your phone number.

Professional Organizations

American Copy Editors Society
American Jewish Press Association
American Society of Journalists and Authors
American Society of Magazine Editors
American Society of Media Photographers
American Society of Newspaper Editors
Asian American Journalists Association
Association of Alternative Newsweeklies
Association of Health Care Journalists
Association for Women in Sports Media
Association of Young Journalists
California Chicano News Media Association
Committee to Protect Journalists
Criminal Justice Journalists
Education Writers Association
Garden Writers Association of America
Inland Press Association
International Center for Journalists
International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association
International Radio & Television Society Foundation, Inc.
Investigative Reporters and Editors
Journalism and Women Symposium
Magazine Publishers of America
National Association of Black Journalists
National Association of Broadcasters
National Association of Hispanic Journalists
National Association of Science Writers
National Conference of Editorial Writers
National Federation of Press Women
National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association
National Press Club
National Press Photographers Association
National Writers Union
Native American Journalists Association
New England Science Writers
New York Association of Black Journalists
New York Women in Communications Inc.
Newspaper Association of America
Overseas Press Club of America
Radio-Television News Directors Association & Foundation
Religion Newswriters Foundation
Society of American Business Editors and Writers
Society of American Travel Writers
Society of Environmental Journalists
Society for News Design
Society of Professional Journalists
South Asian Journalists Association
Unity: Journalists of Color Inc.