What a hiring editor looks for (or, what’s your URL?)

Yet another sign of how out-of-touch some journalism teachers and professors are: Do aspiring young journalists need hardcopy of their clips today? (Do they even need clips at all?) Maybe the old-style packet of a printed résumé and photocopied clips is outmoded.

Meranda Watling has been the education reporter at the Journal & Courier, in Lafayette, Indiana, for three months (almost four). It’s her first job out of college. She wrote:

I learned this relatively early in my job search from an editor who was impressed with my resume, mostly by my demonstrated new-media experience. But she raised one extremely valid point about my package. In her words, “Why is this carbon-based?” Good question. Why was I, of all people, applying on paper?!

As soon as she said it, I knew she was right. It was the catalyst I needed to organize my professional work online. The next week, I registered a domain, started my blog, uploaded my resume and posted my clips online in one central location.

Don’t think you don’t need clips at all — I hear from enough editors at U.S. newspapers that there are still two things they need to see before you even get a phone call, and those are: (1) news story clips, at least from the student newspaper; and (2) an internship.

Increasingly, however, they want to see your URL.

So let’s have a quick chat about what you should have on your professional Web site.

  1. A résumé — designed well for the Web page it’s on (example). Don’t forget to feature all of your internships prominently on your résumé!
  2. A link to a PDF of your résumé for anyone who might need to print it (such as the human resources office). See the example at No. 1 above.
  3. Links to your clips: Try a list of linked headlines, each one followed by the title of the publication AND the date of publication. If all clips come from one publication, then you can put that in the heading. Here’s a good example (although it’s lacking dates).
  4. Examples of your audio, photo, video, and/or design work — like this or this.
  5. A brief, well-written bio that summarizes your individuality. I suggest a 150-word limit. Here’s a good one at a lean 99 words.
  6. And finally, of course, a home page that makes all the relevant bits easy to find (and that does not link to any embarrassing photos of you). Like this or this or this. Don’t forget to include functional contact information.

So, get cracking. You can buy hosting and a domain name at any number of sites, such as Dreamhost or Bluehost (read comparisons here and here). A Wikipedia article explains Web hosting pretty well.

Be sure to proofread as well as spellcheck every single word on your Web site very, very carefully.

Addenda (April 21): All the links in items 1-6 go to sites by graduates (or almost graduates) of the journalism program at the University of Florida (naturally). Also, I’ve used Dreamhost for about six years; I host all my Web sites there, and I love the service.

For speakers of British (not American) English: A résumé is a CV. Clips are cuttings. (Thanks, Andrew.)

But wait, there’s more! Lucas Grindley, content manager for HeraldTribune.com, left a comment on this post telling you what you should NOT include! “The Herald-Tribune is the third-largest newspaper in the New York Times Co. and the largest newspaper in the New York Times Regional Media Group” (source). So listen up.

Technorati tags: | | |

8 Comments on “What a hiring editor looks for (or, what’s your URL?)

  1. Thanks for that Mindy, was really useful. I’ve been thinking about setting one up, and after applying for the latest in a line of jobs I shall do it (when I’ve finished my damn exams). Although, over here in the UK you’d be surprised just how many online journalism jobs are still done the old school way. Re: http://www.journalism.co.uk/jobs/3360

    I enclosed a page with my application form of all my URLs, and I phoned up to ask what content management system they use and no one had a clue!

  2. Thanks for your take on this Mindy!

    I recently refined my online portfolio at dennylester.com and I think for the most part I’m in line with your post.

    This is a great blog and a refreshing read.



  3. Wow, they will mail you an “application pack”? Sounds like a place with a lot of red tape and bureaucracy!

    I’m not too surprised about the content management system. Some newspapers still have one peasant in chains in the basement, copying and pasting the text from the print edition.

  4. Hey, Denny, I know your prof Keith Graham! Tell him I said hi — he will probably do a double-take and you can have a good laugh.

    Nice-looking portfolio, by the way.

  5. Mindy – Fortunately it wasn’t too long an application form. Let’s hope if I get an interview I don’t turn up and find the peasant in the basement! It’s quite a senior position I’ve ended up applying for, just have to try and dazzle them in the interview.

    Denny – That’s a really good looking site, really simple and clear.

  6. Glad to see instructions for folks on how to create an online resume.

    As someone who sees a lot of these online resumes, it’s also a good idea to mention some things NOT to include. Too many people combine resume sites with personal material.

    1) Don’t have a personal blog on your site if it’s not related to the field in which you’re applying. Potential employers shouldn’t be reading about your weekends out.

    2) No personal or “funny” pictures. If you want to be taken seriously, then get rid of the wacky photos. Get rid of photos from your ski trip. Only include photos that you’d actually mail as part of a clip pack. Ideally, any photo on a resume site was actually printed or posted somewhere else.

    3) Slideshows and multimedia taken during your vacation, or of a family event, aren’t clips.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.