T’is the season to intern. And apply for jobs. And apply for Wannabe Hacks. Whatever you’re doing, success will rely, in part, on a good CV, and recently I’ve been getting more and more emails from readers asking for advice. As such, here are some of my tips, designed to help you avoid common pitfalls – take them with a pinch of salt. I’m only a student, not the HR department at a major publisher.
1) 1 page is really all you need
I can’t stress this enough. Cutting the crap says you know how to edit, and as a young journalist, there’s really not that much outstanding stuff you can have done that needs to be shouted about. Be concise and punchy; your CV needs to be a good, memorable skim read for the person you’re giving it to.
This means you need to be brutal with your fluff, and smart with your layout. Things that can often be cut are your GCSEs, your “interests” (try lumping relevant items into your “skills” section), and any extra personal info such as nationality.
2) A clear mission statement
Your mission statement is your intro to your CV. It should be one or two sentences long, and state who you are and what you’re hoping to achieve with this CV. That means tailoring it for each time it’s used, for example, “Enthusiastic, bilingual travel writer, seeking work experience at a b2b publisher”.
3) Focus on specific actions
Under your relevant experience, avoid talking about what the role was in a basic sense, as in, ”Staff Reporter: writing stories, doing interviews etc.” Everyone knows what a Staff Reporter role entails, and they don’t need to you spell it out. Try to focus on specifics and metrics wherever possible, and use strong action verbs to talk about your roles in bullet-point form: “Online Intern: – Improved the publication’s use of social media, doubling traffic to the site.”
4) Don’t repeat yourself (too much)
This can be tricky, if you’ve got lots of experience in the same line of work, but as with any writing you want to avoid forcing the same point on someone. Certainly, talk about your experience as a journalist, but do it by talking about different areas, such as interviews you got, the stories you broke, and the things you’re proud of. Don’t just list writer for each role, it’s boring.
5) Proof it. No, proof it properly
Print it out and get out the red pen. I mean it. Every single CV I’ve had emailed to me for a workshop has had a spelling or formatting error in, and these are CVs that have often just been sent off for job applications too. It has to be perfect, and you need a meticulous eye. Don’t be shy about asking someone to proof it either; a fresh set of eyes will often pick out something glaringly obvious that you’ve missed. I’ll do it, if you like – email@example.com!
Please add your own tips in the comments, and pick out my inevitable spelling/grammar error within this article.
Image courtesy of CharlotWest.
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look