The right way to do a resume?

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to resumes.  Should it be kept to one page?  Is there any point to including any objective?  (No and no.  If you have two pages worth of experience and skills, put them out there!  And guess what? Your objective is to get a job!)

Reporter Lynn Walsh offered this advice in the RTDNA Communicator.  Though I don’t agree with it all, Lynn makes several great points.

Don’t bury the lead. Just like a news story, do not wait until the last sentence or bullet point to share the most significant accomplishment you have made in your career so far. Whether it is the order of the jobs you have had or the description you write to go along with one; lead with what is going to get you the job!

Chronological order may not always be the best. You were a copy editor at your last job, but you really want to be a reporter. You are applying for a reporting position and have four years of experience as a reporter. The copy editing position is your most recent job the reporting job was a year ago. Which comes first? Most people put jobs, positions, etc. in chronological order, I am not sure that is always best. Lead with what will show the news director or editor that you are most qualified for the job you are applying for. Now, there are times where this may not be the best idea–especially if it has been a long time since you have had the position, but if all of the jobs and positions are fairly recent, I think leading with experience is best.

Mailing address. My first question is: how often do you get mail? My second question is: who sends you mail? In the digital age an address may not even be needed, especially if you are sending a cover letter (which will have your address if properly addressed).  I also do not think there is any harm in having a mailing address on your resume, just make sure it is up to date and will be for a few months after you send the resume out to prospective employers.

Skills. If utilized correctly a skill section can be helpful. The key I believe is placement on the page and what you are listing. If you are applying for a journalism job and are not proficient in Microsoft Office any any of the individual programs you may have a bigger problem on your hands. Lead with what sets you apart from others in your field. Do you know HTML? Flash? Lead with those programs and leave MS Word and Excel for the end of the list.

List and use social media accounts. If you have a twitter account you use for journalistic purposes INCLUDE it on your resume and prominently. Do you have a website? It should be one of the first links a potential employer sees. I would leave Facebook and LinkedIn accounts off (due to their lengthy url’s) if the potential employer is viewing it on paper. If you are sending it electronically be sure to include it on the resume, linked to the words “Facebook” and “LinkedIn,” in your e-mail signature or in linked boxes or logos.

Do not hide awards. You wrote, produced and/or reported a great story and were recognized for it – make sure that is clearly visible on your resume. Do not hide it in a size eight font under five other bullets of the position description. Lead with it or use a terms like “award-wining producer” or “nationally-recognized investigative journalist.” You could also try making a separate category for awards or setting them apart in a box or to the side.

Do not lead with unrecognizable titles, confusing organizations, etc.
Names of news stations can be very complex and unrecognizable to someone who has never lived or worked where you have. While the station may be number one in Lincoln, Nebraska a news director on the east coast may have no idea what the call letters or catchy show name mean. Hand your resume to someone who does not know the news industry or someone that is from out of town–if they ask you what the organization or station is, change the name. Don’t use “Dayton’s News Source,” use the call letters or the station affiliation (at least on first reference.)

A few things to always do:

Cater your resume for the specific position. It is fine to have one generic resume, but you should never send the generic resume to a potential employer. Each resume should be specific to the job you are applying for: change the skills, rearrange the order of positions, etc.

Research who is going to receive your resume, where did they used to work, what seems to be their news style, etc. If a news director is more conservative, be more conservative on your resume and format. If they like to try new news styles and push the limits you may be OK to be a little non-traditional.

Always sell your skills and your experience. So what if it was just an internship; if you gained experience make sure that point is clear. You may have made copies of rundowns once a day-but what else did you do? Lead with what you learned and skills you became better using.


4 comments for “The right way to do a resume?

  1. November 21, 2010 at 2:45 am

    “Cater your resume for the specific position. ”
    I have to agree with you on this. I think it is very important to create different version of resume for each job that you are applying for. One good way to do it is to incorporate keywords found in the job posting into your resume. This will create a more targeted resume.

  2. Deb Wenger
    November 30, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Thanks for the piece of advice! I have heard that some companies run cover letters/resumes through a computer program to check for keywords as a way to do some weeding out.

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