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How to get a first job in journalism or pr doug bell - denver news train - april 11-12, 2019


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How to get a journalism job Finding jobs and internships in a journalism landscape that has seen staff and resource cuts is increasingly challenging for college students. Join Doug Bell, who developed a Metro State University course titled, How to Get a
Media Job, for a turbocharged session that will cover networking, writing effective resumes and cover letters, and assembling an online portfolio. His presentation is a concentrated summary of a class taught by an editor who also was an industry hiring manager for 35 years. – Doug Bell

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How to get a first job in journalism or pr doug bell - denver news train - april 11-12, 2019

  1. 1. Page 1 of 3 How to get a first job in journalism or PR Doug Bell | Networking and why its crucial • A leg up: Traditional job searches are time-consuming, discouraging and ultimately offer a VERY low percentage of success. There are ways to dramatically enhance your chances, and networking is chief among them. • An unvarnished definition: Networking is a continual, tenacious, 24/7 campaign to use every person, situation and waking moment to further your job search. • Who’s on first? Friends, teachers, guest speakers, fellow churchgoers, family members, barbers, hairstylists, hockey players and any other warm body with a beating heart can provide a potential networking opportunity. • Not-so-mad methods: Networking is all about your interest in industry professionals and their jobs. Take a local editor or PIO to coffee. Ask to be a guest at an afternoon news meeting. Ask to shadow a reporter or producer on a typical workday. But DO NOT ask for a job during your first three contacts with any member of your network; remember, it’s about them, not you. • Groups, conventions, lubrication: Target-rich networking environments include conventions and professional organizations (SPJ, Press Club, Colorado Press Association, PRSA, NPPA); conferences and seminars; bars and restaurants; and anywhere that journalists or PR pros hang out. • The generational divide: Today, more than at any other time, the cultural gap between the young (many of you) and the old (me, dinosaurs) is enormous, especially when it comes to social interaction and interaction via technology. Certain behaviors that are routinely accepted among the young (you — job seekers) might be offensive to the old (me — hiring managers). One mistake, and you are dead in the water. • The stench of failure: Your attitude and outlook must remain as sweet and promising as a sunny spring morning at all times. Searching for a job is difficult, discouraging and often painfully disappointing. But if you let dark clouds gather above you, it will be impossible. Cover letters • Paragraph one: Show you are dedicated to and passionate about your craft, and say you'd like to bring that commitment to the employer. Anecdotes are a good way to do this. Don't be afraid to reveal personal (but not inappropriate) information. SIX SENTENCES MAX! • Paragraph two: Talk about how your skills and experience fit what the employer is looking for. Don't hesitate to repeat language in the position
  2. 2. Page 2 of 3 posting. Talk about specific accomplishments and mention items that appear on your résumé. Be as quantitative as possible in talking about your abilities, accomplishments, etc. • Paragraph three: Try to set the stage for a phone or face-to-face contact. Suggest a meeting time. Say that you will follow up with a phone call. Find a way to suggest that next contact. Résumés General guidelines: • Language selection is critical. Use active, expressive verb phrases: “effectively communicates,” “repeatedly achieves,” “consistently outperforms.” • Show, don’t tell. Bad: “An effective leader.” Good: “Led a team of three reporters in producing an award-winning, six-part series on local fallout from the opioid epidemic.” Quantify accomplishments whenever possible! • Be specific and give examples. “As editor of my college daily, made print deadlines for six consecutive issues while streamlining the editing/page design process.” • Embellish but don’t fib. You will be caught. The sections, in order: • Skills: Be specific and descriptive. Include software skills. Use bullets and short, descriptive phrases. Example: “• Write fact-filled breaking-news stories under the tightest of web deadlines; revamp stories with additional reporting and background for the next print deadline.” • Experience: List it in a way that shows the skills you gained in each job. Chronological order is not a must; put your most relevant and most impressive experience first. • Education: Keep it simple; include any honors or scholarships. Give anticipated date of graduation. • Personal: Try to include information that shows you are a well-rounded person, responsible, with many interests and talents. Clips and work samples • Five to six clips, on uniformly sized sheets of paper. • Tailor the clips to the job you are applying for. • PR folks should include brochures, event fliers, news releases, URLs for maintained websites — any example of your work that might be relevant to the job you are applying for. • If you are applying for a copy-editing/design job, enclose five headline samples, accompanying each with a one-paragraph summary of the story. Also enclose the raw version of one story on which you’ve done substantial editing. Include at least five full-page layouts.
  3. 3. Page 3 of 3 • Offer to take an editing, reporting or style test, or to do a tryout. In a best- case scenario, offer to do real-world work on the spot to showcase your skills. • Photographers should prepare a portfolio that represents all types of pics: sports action, environmental portraits, breaking news, feature shots, enterprise, stand-alones, etc. Also demonstrate that you can shoot in low light, both indoors and outdoors. Follow-up • Not more than two weeks after you have sent your portfolio, call and ask if it has been received. Inquire politely — not aggressively — about the possibility of a meeting. • If the person seems talkative, steer the conversation gently toward substantive issues and use the opportunity to show you are knowledgeable about the publication or workplace. • Be persistent. If the person gives you the brush-off, ask when you should next call, or what your next step might be. The interview • Remember the three P’s: Be prompt (at least 15 minutes early), be polite and present yourself well. • Practice beforehand. Make sure the person you role-play with keeps track of gaffes (too many “uhs,” “likes,” etc.; physical ticks; running off at the mouth/meandering responses). • Make frequent, but not constant, eye contact. • Interview the interviewer. Seize every opportunity to steer the conversation to specific examples of your strengths. Talk about concrete examples of your diligence, skills and abilities. (“During my recent internship, my knowledge of InDesign and PowerPoint enabled me to help train several of the company’s full-time staffers …) • Have your “agenda” prepared in advance, and keep steering the conversation to the five or six points you want to make (your top skills or strengths). • Always bring extra copies of your résumé.