You’ve done the hard work of finding your beat and perfecting your byline. Now it’s time to write a journalist resume that doesn’t bury the lede.
Recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds looking at a resume before moving on to the next one. How can you make yours stand out among the hundreds of other journalists?
A poorly written resume is the quickest way to get passed over by publications. Journalism is all about telling a story, and you want to show recruiters that you can hook readers, even with your resume.
After reading this guide, you’ll know how to tailor your resume to the job you want and show recruiters that you have the writing skills for a feature story.
Our in-depth guide will show you
- How to create a journalist resume that shows your storytelling ability
- What industry skills to highlight and how to present your soft skills
- How to tailor your resume to match a specific job description
- How to format the sections of your resume whether you are a seasoned journalist or new to the field.
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How to write a great journalist resume
When publications look for a new journalist, they want someone who can work a beat, develop sources, and break stories. Most of all they want someone who can write, and write well.
Grit and drive won’t get you very far if your writing doesn’t hold up.
Do you need to have an award-winning feature under your belt?
But you do need to show publications that your writing skills are good enough to publish.
Journalistic writing is different from academic writing. Your writing needs to hook readers and keep them entertained as well as informed.
Don’t rely on your BA in Journalism alone to get you the job. Plenty of people complete journalism programs and are still terrible writers.
That last one may seem like a no-brainer, but an astounding number of grammatical errors make their way into final resume drafts. Good writing is the crux of journalism. You don’t want to make careless mistakes before you even make it to an interview.
Check, double-check, and then have someone else check your resume for errors.
In addition to writing, don’t lose focus on these resume sections.
How to write a great journalist resume header
Every section of your resume is an opportunity to show recruiters that you can tell a captivating story. Your resume header is no different.
What to include:
- Full name
- Current title
- Email and phone number
- Live link to portfolio
- Live link to website/LinkedIn
Let’s look at the examples below.
2 journalist resume header examples
Link to a portfolio is crucial in a header. Publications will want to see quality clips from their prospective journalists.
Full address is not necessary unless you are applying to cover a local beat. For most journalism jobs, city and state are sufficient.
In this header, the portfolio link is prominently featured.
For digital resumes in a media-driven industry, clickable links are a must. Recruiters don’t want to waste time with broken links or typing complicated URLs.
This example also shows a more specific job title that can be tailored for the role you are applying for.
Now that you know how to format your header, let’s dive into your summary.
How to write a journalist summary that will hook recruiters
Writing a strong summary is your best opportunity to showcase your writing skills on your resume.
If it doesn’t hook the reader in the first sentence, it will be overlooked. Just like any breaking story, don’t bury the lede!
A good journalist summary succinctly captures
- Years of experience
- Top skills tailored to fit job description
- Major professional accomplishments.
It is also important to avoid buzzwords and overused sayings. Stating that you have “a nose for the truth” or your “finger on the pulse” won’t do you any favors.
It also doesn’t really mean anything.
Avoid hyperbole and be very specific and concise. Give concrete examples that showcase your skills. Don’t expect recruiters to take your word for it.
2 journalism resume summary examples
Let’s take a look at what can be improved in the example above.
- Instead of “experienced journalist” try “journalist with 8 years of experience.”
- Instead of “excellent photography skills” try “shot the cover image for XYZ publication October 2019”
- There is no natural flow between sentences. It reads more like a bulleted list.
- Remove “I” language. Don’t write in first-person narrative.
Let’s look at what works in the example above.
- Experience is clear and presented immediately.
- ”Implemented new social media strategy and increased engagement by 47%” is intentionally tailored to fit one of the duties and responsibilities listed on an actual journalist job description, “Strategically engages in social media.”
- Sentence flow is original and tells a story.
Now that you’ve written a strong journalism career summary for your stellar resume, let’s move on to the experience section.
How to tell a good story with your journalist work experience
You might be sick of hearing this by now, but the experience section is yet another opportunity to illustrate your storytelling ability.
Include 3-5 of your most relevant job titles. Beneath each title, include 3-4 bullets that highlight your achievements in that role.
Use action verbs and real numbers that show off your unique accomplishments. Don’t make the mistake of including a generic job description.
Recruiters know that journalists “cover local stories and current events” but they don’t know that you “held exclusive interviews with healthcare workers treating the country’s first known case of Covid-19.”
Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Journalist resume experience examples
Terms like “hard worker” and “results-driven” are overused buzzwords and have no actionable meaning.
Fortunately, we have a guide for action verbs that you can use instead.
The example above also shows missed opportunities to showcase specific skills and instead uses generic terminology.
The idea that journalists need to be able to “do it all” is becoming outdated. Publications want to know that you can do the job they’re hiring you for.
If you’re applying for a journalist position at a public service radio station, highlight your interview and sound-editing skills. If you’re applying for a job as a photojournalist, focus on your production and copywriting skills.
Clearly demonstrate your ability to use audio/photo/video software like in the example below.
The example above clearly communicates that the candidate
- is familiar with specific software and technical skills
- is capable of completing multiple projects in a high-pressure environment
- has made notable accomplishments
- has experience with a particular beat.
Entry-level journalist resume example
Now that your experience section has been expertly written, let’s move on to skills.
What skills to include on a journalist resume
Hard skills and soft skills both hold importance in the world of journalism. A field reporter with incredible production skills won’t last long if they have terrible communication.
If you have experience in many different areas of journalism, choose those that are most aligned with the job you’re applying for.
Recruiters use ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) to filter out applicants with job-specific keywords. Don’t waste precious space with irrelevant competencies.
If you have data skills, be sure to add them. There is a growing demand for journalists with data/coding skills. Not only can you find a good story, but you can analyze it too.
Here is a list of technical skills commonly found on actual journalist resumes.
How to describe soft skills on your journalist resume
Soft skills are sometimes dismissed as being less important on a resume than hard skills, but that is not the case for journalism.
However, they do require a bit more explanation.
A good strategy is to choose the ones most relevant to the job you’re applying for and back them up with an example.
This is a list of qualifications from an actual job listing for a Multimedia Journalist position:
- Must have the ability to organize and manage multiple projects in a high-pressure environment.
- Excellent interpersonal, verbal, and written communication skills. Able to relate well with diverse populations and age groups.
- Ability to find and communicate solutions.
Let’s take a look at how to tailor your skill section for this job.
Soft skills in the above example appear on the candidate’s resume as strengths. They have taken keywords directly from the job description and backed them up with examples.
Below are a few more soft skills you might want to add to your journalist resume.
How to format the education section on your journalist resume
The way your education appears on your resume depends on how many years of experience you have in journalism.
If you are a recent graduate and still cutting your teeth in the industry, you may want to include a few accomplishments and experiences during your time in school.
If you’re an experienced journalist looking for a senior position, just your school and degree are sufficient.
Let’s look at this education section for an entry-level journalist position.
The candidate above doesn’t have a lot of work experience, but they have developed important skills while in school.
They have demonstrated SEO (search engine optimization) knowledge, long-term commitment, and feature-worthy writing.
Now let’s look at the education section for someone who has spent more than ten years in journalism.
This person has extensive industry experience so there is no need to list education accolades from a decade ago.
Including certificates on your journalist resume
The need for a certification section on resumes is very industry specific. Journalism isn’t one where certificates are in high demand.
If you do have certificates that are relevant to the job you’re applying for, you should include them.
For example, if you are applying for a position as a sports journalist and have a certificate in sports management.
A certificate in journalism can also be helpful for those making a career change. If your formal education and career are in a different industry, a certificate in journalism will make a difference to recruiters.
Other sections to include in your journalist resume
Depending on the job you’re applying for, you may want to include other sections to your journalist resume.
Applying to be an international news correspondent? Add a section for languages. Worked on a ground-breaking reporting project in the past? Add a section for projects.
Daily life for a journalist varies greatly from person to person due to the dynamic nature of the job. One way to stand out to recruiters is by showing them a “Day in My Life” graphic, which can be created in our Resume Builder.
This adds creativity to your resume and gives you an opportunity to share a bit of your personality.
Here are a few more resume sections and how to include them:
Key takeaways for writing a great journalist resume
- Create a header with a clear link to your portfolio.
- Show your strong writing skills with a good summary.
- Tell a good story with your work experience.
- Be specific with your skills and accomplishments.
- Tailor each section to the job you’re applying for.