- Always include a cover letter. Many managers won’t look at your resume or application without a cover letter.
- Don’t bury the lead! Tell the manager IMMEDIATELY what job you’re applying for and why they should hire you.
- Be concise. The manager is judging you by your writing ability regardless of what job you’re applying for. Keep it short.
- A single typo may cost you the job so proofread like 20 times, step away and proofread again after a few days. Then do it again.
- Format your cover letter properly. One page only. Most cover letters should follow traditional formats, but you may want to be creative depending on where you’re applying. Ex: applying for BuzzFeed? Write a listicle and SEO headline to match their branding.
- The hiring manager isn’t looking to help someone who needs a job. It’s your responsibility to tell the person reading your cover letter why they need you. They don’t care about what you want. Their job is to make money. How will you make them money?
- They also probably don’t care about your childhood because they’re running a business, not a daycare. Don’t tell them what you’ve dreamed of becoming ever since you were a kid. It’s cliche and off putting.
- Never write “I believe.” Are you the best or not? They don’t care if you believe you’re a great fit. Are you the best… or not? If your cover letter doesn’t exude confidence, start over and do it right or you’re wasting your time.
- Add references at the bottom. Include their name, title and contact information.
- Proofread again.
- Don’t be overly formal, you’ll sound young and inexperienced. Don’t call people “Mr.” or “Ms.”
- No one wants to read your essays or your thesis. Unless you’re applying to work at a college, work examples means content that will help the manager see what type of worker you will be. You won’t write a thesis at your news job so leave that out and focus on relevant examples like websites, articles, videos and infographics.
- Follow every single application instruction precisely. This is a test. It’s usually pass or fail.
- I never had a news/TV boss who cared about my GPA or the classes I took. They want links to videos, articles, Twitter followers, number of tweets, analytics, anything that will make them money. Quantify your skills.
Here are two different example cover letters. This one is generic:
This one is for a specific job:
March 12, 2019
University of South Florida
Zimmerman School of Advertising & Mass Communications
4202 E. Fowler Ave.
Tampa, FL 33620
Dear Search Committee,
I am writing to apply for the Instructor I position at the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications. I could not be more grateful for my time as a visiting instructor and adjunct professor at the University of South Florida. I would love to become a permanent member of this team so I can continue to invest in USF the way USF invested in me. USF propelled me into a career where I climbed higher than I thought possible. I want to give my students the skills and determination to do the same.
While earning my bachelor’s degree in broadcast news, USF gave me a platform to air my stories in one of the country’s biggest TV markets. This gave me a tremendous head start. It allowed me to pursue my dream of working in San Diego, America’s 28th largest TV market. I started working at the ABC affiliate, KGTV, as an assignment editor. I published stories on 10News.com and was promoted to write and line produce live TV newscasts.
My executive producer was so impressed with my work ethic and enthusiasm that he offered me a life changing opportunity when he became the news director at the San Diego Union-Tribune, then known as U-T San Diego. I was his first hire. He and I built a TV station from the ground up. He originally hired me as an executive producer but quickly promoted me to be the assistant news director. I hired 80 people and oversaw a $5.5 million budget. I developed and launched 13 news, entertainment and sports programs. I collaborated on a redesign of the website to launch a livestreaming player. During my tenure, U-T TV won nine regional Emmy Awards.
Throughout this incredible experience, I realized that one of my favorite parts was teaching more than a hundred print journalists how to tell stories using new tools and techniques. I helped hard working storytellers keep their jobs because they could now report for web and social media using their cell phones. Mobile journalism was just beginning to emerge. In the six years since, technology has advanced at a tremendous rate, and so has my passion for innovating our industry.
This passion drove me back to USF so I could get my master’s degree in digital journalism and design. While earning my degree at USFSP, I became a producer at Tampa’s NBC affiliate. Because of my experience creating programming, I was responsible for developing and launching five newscasts for WFLA and WTTA.
I now use my strong ties to local media outlets to give back to my students. Several times a year, I host events with the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists and help my students get internships, scholarships and jobs. I collaborate with Hillsborough County to publish student stories on HTV and online. My Advanced Reporting class works with Tampa’s NPR affiliate to produce award-winning shows. My students help create and promote the Florida Focus brief that airs on WEDU.
As a visiting instructor, I have been charged with reworking our digital media curriculum by innovating several journalism courses. I am in the process of building a new digital network for the university where students, staff and faculty can publish and discover multimedia content. My meetings across campus have led to exciting collaborations that benefit our students.
In addition to teaching video, writing, web design, social media, broadcast news and reporting, I pride myself on showing students the future of media. I take my students to virtual reality studios so they can experience the power of immersive 360 storytelling. We collaborate on social media and augmented reality projects with the Innovative Education Department and the Honors College. I also partner with some of the biggest innovators in journalism like Yusuf Omar who won the world’s first ever Snapchat award for helping rape survivors spread awareness while maintaining anonymity and authenticity.
The teaching website I built on WordPress is JeanetteAbrahamsen.com. You can also see examples of my work on my YouTube channel www.youtube.com/user/AbrahamsenJeanette. I am so proud to be part of a massive transformation happening at USF right now. I greatly appreciate your time and consideration.
- One page only (a CV can be longer if you’re applying for an academic or health job, for ex).
- Put your name, phone number, email address, website URL, Twitter handle and YouTube channel at the top of the page.
- Reverse chronological order (most recent stuff goes on top).
- Use keywords the manager put in the job listing. Most employers don’t actually read all resumes submitted for a job opening. Some managers will only look at the top 10 percent that scored highest on keyword automation. This is why a Word doc is so important. Some software won’t properly identify keywords in a PDF.
- Tailor each one of your resumes to fit the job you’re applying to.
- You can make a pretty resume for the interview, but for the application, submit a traditional Word doc so you ensure the computer software properly scans it.
- Don’t be wordy. Don’t use complete sentences. Use bullet points. If you use periods at the end of your sentences, make sure it’s consistent.
- Don’t waste your space with an objective.
- Proofread again.
- Keep it short.
- Your skills section should be a list of the equipment and software you can use like WordPress, Adobe Premiere Pro, etc. Don’t add things like Word because that’s like writing that you know how to turn on a computer. If you list it, make sure you actually know it. Think you can speak Spanish because you got a B in seventh grade? Your boss might make you do a report in Spanish on live TV, so think twice before adding it to your skills.
Here’s an example:
Here’s what my resume looked like when I was a senior at USF getting my undergrad degree:
Depending on the job you’re applying for, managers may ask for your reel. These are the most common types of reels:
- Reporter/Anchor reel
- Producer reel
- Videographer/editor reel
A reporter reel should start with the very best (most creative/active) stand-ups. Stand-ups should be about 5-10 seconds each, edited quickly back to back for about a minute or two. If you have anchor desk videos, you can add a few seconds of those, just make sure the best are first. If you have lots of stand-ups and lots of anchor desk video, you can also cut a separate reel for each. After the stand-ups, you should add your very best pkg (the entire pkg). Then add your second favorite pkg after that so the hiring manager can scroll through video from one URL.
A producer reel is a short montage of your best shows like a bunch of little trailers back to back. Some managers don’t want to watch producer reels. They’re more likely to ask for several A-blocks so they can judge stacking, pacing, story choice, flow, writing, etc.
Here’s an example of my old entertainment reel:
A few years back I stopped making producer reels. Instead, I submit a YouTube playlist for my newscasts like this:
That way I can tailor the playlist to the specific job. Looking to hire me to work at the Food Network?
How about a health show?
Need a promo producer? I’m your gal:
Or, are you just looking for a producer to drive ratings with teases and good opens?
Another less traditional option is an “about me” video that starts like a reel like this:
While we’re here, let’s check out how I customize my YouTube channel to increase my chances of getting a good job: https://www.youtube.com/user/AbrahamsenJeanette