Do you have an inherent curiosity to find answers to social issues? Do you purposely seek the truth and bring unique stories to the world? Then becoming a journalist could prove thrilling for you.
A journalism career allows individuals to pursue their inner curiosity and write to inform the world about current affairs. Given the industry's competitive nature, creating a job-winning resume that will enable you to bag the right opportunities is essential.
Check out this resume-making guide curated exclusively for aspiring journalists! First, let’s take a look at the three main resume formats, one of which you’ll choose to write your journalist resume.
Looking for CV Template ideas? See our sample for Journalist CV Template
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Job Duties of a Journalist
Some of the primary responsibilities of a journalist include:
Verifying sources and fact-checking information before writing and publishing a story.
Attending events such as press conferences, summits, coalitions, and campaigns to gather information.
Traveling for research, such as visiting crime scenes or any other newsworthy events.
Collaborating with editors, fellow journalists, designers and photographers to tell a complete and factual story.
Adhering to legal and ethical responsibilities when informing current events.
Working closely with sources, such as witnesses or key persons to provide all sides of a story.
Keeping relevant records such as audio and video recordings, notes, photographs and documents for further reviewing.
Journalist Median Salary
As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for journalists, news analysts and reporters in the United States as of May 2020 is up to $49,300 per year.
Top Skills for Journalists
A career in journalism requires a wide array of skills developed with time and experience. Consistent effort and honing of these abilities will be necessary to excel in this profession.
These are some of the skills you will want to include in your resume when searching for a position as a journalist:
- Inquisitiveness In the digital era of misinformation, deception and propaganda, inquisitiveness, combined with quality fact-based reporting, helps journalists expose truths. As a professional, you must be ready to receive a wide array of information from many sources, but you must also have the initiative to seek your own answers beyond what information you are provided with initially.
- Fair but focused on the truth Real journalists are not biased. They take a broad approach to understanding the truth, often presenting different sides of an argument yet unbound by false equivalencies, otherwise known as “both sides-ism.” If the story reveals complex truths backed up by facts, the journalist must break down the information accurately and precisely while comparing it to other facts presented.
- Ability to analyze critically Critical analysis is essential to separate fact from fiction. A journalist must make sense of patterns and assumptions and maintain an open mind to interpret situations critically. They must also cross-reference the facts with the information they gather to report solely the truth.
- Exceptional presentation and writing Journalists must have outstanding presentation and writing skills to tell their stories, especially if they involve dense subjects which may sometimes be difficult to understand. Strong language skills with exceptional grammar and vocabulary proficiency help a journalist write and present stories effectively.
- Professional integrity Journalists should never compromise their professional integrity for money or fame. Professional integrity allows a journalist to remain uninfluenced and unbiased.
- Willingness to learn and improve continuously A journalist should aim for excellence by actively educating themself while also learning new things and improving existing skills. The desire to learn from mistakes and experience helps in dealing with challenges and evolving gracefully.
Educational Requirements for Journalists
DegreeTo work as a journalist, you need to pursue a bachelor's degree in that field or related ones such as mass communication, media studies, or English. Depending upon your area of interest, you can specialize in fields such as investigative or broadcast journalism.
Pursuing a degree in creative writing or literature can also help you achieve a career as a writer or editor in print, broadcast, and online journalism. Likewise, pursuing a two-year associate degree in journalism and mass communication could also open doors in media, advertising, radio, or television broadcasting sectors. Associate degrees in communications equip you with foundational skills needed for entry-level roles in news writing, publishing, broadcasting, social media and mass communication.
Given the intense competition in the industry, pursuing a master's degree in journalism helps you understand the journalism world in-depth and gradually advance your career. More importantly, it helps you create connections with people working inside the industry, which you will rely on to get a job. Those interested in working as journalists in technology, business, sociology, or economics should pursue specialization degrees in their respective fields. For example, the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business offers a graduate business and economic journalism program.
CertificationsAlthough certifications are not mandatory in journalism, most experienced journalists pursue short-term certificates to explore a specific field such as investigative reporting or business journalism to master a skill, or when the certification is a job prerequisite. For example, to expand their research and writing skills, you can opt for a certificate in feature writing, which is a more short form of reporting with a focus on art, social issues, events or other topics.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst also offers an online certificate in journalism that covers topics like advanced news writing, public relations, media law, ethics, and more. Meanwhile, University of California, Los Angeles offers writing and journalism certificates in creative writing, editing, publishing, and literary representation.
Journalist Resume-Writing Tips
Eye-tracking studies reveal that recruiters spend only 7.4 seconds reviewing a resume. It is, therefore, imperative to craft one that stands out to the person reading your resume. Here are some tips you can implement to increase your opportunities to get hired:
Create a great first impression and visual distinction. An effective resume helps distinguish your unique journalistic abilities by showcasing your creativity and design to create a lasting first impression. Good formatting will also validate your ability to collate and structure information. Here are other essential tips on formatting your resume:
Using formatting strategically ensures that your resume is easy to read for the employer.
- Use a simple template design with clearly defined sections and headers for immediate visual distinction.
- Leverage the F-pattern and E-pattern reading tendencies for maximum retention by using the correct layout.
- Use bold formatting to highlight job titles, key accomplishments, community memberships, nominations and honors.
- Place a concise description or mission statement that exhibits the most crucial information about your journalism career at the top of the first page.
- Ensure the template you choose is ATS (applicant tracking system) friendly as an increasing number of recruiters use ATS software to screen resumes.
- Write less. A journalist's resume should reflect their ability to make an impact with few words. Hence, instead of filling it with elevated vocabulary, use simple and to-the-point words. To stand out, don't use generic terms, avoid adjectives and unnecessary prepositions, and use declarative and straightforward sentences to list achievements accurately.
- Attest to your writing skills through your resume. The best way to indicate your written ability as a journalist is to build a well-crafted resume. Validate your writing skills by devoting time to proofread spelling or grammatical mistakes. Use strong verbs to illustrate your command of language.
What are the different specializations of journalism?
Journalism is a broad field that has numerous opportunities in diverse sectors. Some of the significant fields of journalism are broadcasting, investigative, business, crime, political, entertainment and enterprise journalism. Every journalism type is audience-centric and focuses on addressing issues by giving out information specific to that particular subject.
What is the future job market for journalists?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the journalists' job market is declining by 10.1%between 2016 and 2026. The decline in radio, newspaper and television advertisement revenue will negatively impact the job growth of occupations such as reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts. The decline is also due to diminishing newspaper readership.
Why is journalism a challenging career?
The print and broadcasting industry is subject to dynamic changes making it intensely competitive for journalists. Individuals today consume news more than ever through various media outlets and social media platforms. For journalists, this has raised challenges in keeping up with changing patterns, presenting authentic information, and gaining recognition. At the start of their career, many journalists struggle to establish a reputation and get their first break.