November 27, 2019 (Updated )
We hear a lot about the first part of applying for a job. How do you make yourself stand out? What should your CV look like? But it’s always difficult to know what works when you haven’t seen it for yourself.
As part of our mission to demystify the media industry, we pulled in a few favours and asked some pals for CVs which helped get them to interview or snag their current gig.
As a hacked Jeremy Corbyn Twitter account would say, here we damn well go… Or, something like that.
Concise, Clear, & Evidenced
We love this CV from Fraser, who used it to bag his job as a reporter a FE Week, as it’s a great example of just how short an effective CV can be.
We’re all guilty of saying too much at times, but trust us, your CV really should just be one page of the most relevant stuff.
It has more links and specific examples than you can shake a stick at, and it’s particularly worth looking at how he’s phrased his experience at university.
No one cares that much about your politics, English, or history degree unless you’re actually going to be writing about those things, but they do care about experiences which directly relate to journalism.
It’s also pretty clear this CV has been tailored to the job he’s applying for – think of it like a cover letter. You’d never send a generic one of those, so why would you do the same for a CV?
Relevant Skills Which Really Add Value
Again, all you really need is one page, and this is the CV which snagged Camille a job at France 24. With just one page.
All too often it can be tempting to think the more detail the better, but the average recruiter has just six seconds to read your CV. Just six seconds.
They need to know your best work straight away and your key achievements.
Also, not that we want to keep pushing the same agenda (that’s a lie, we’re going to keep saying it again and again) but look how little space you give to your education.
No A Levels, no GCSEs. Just your highest level qualification, with minimal fuss – most of the time editors will see this as a tick box. It’s your experience which makes you really stand out.
Also note how specialised Camille’s skills are. If you’re going for a video job, I’d rather see your niche skills like which cameras you can use, as opposed to just listing video editing – and the same thing works for everything else too.
Don’t tell me you can use Microsoft Word (because, frankly, who can’t). Do tell me specialist programmes, skills, and languages you can speak.
Relevant Skills For Career Changers
One for those of us who are looking to do a slight pivot into journalism, take a look at how it’s done from Sabrina.
Sure, it’s probably a little bit longer than we’d recommend for most starter CVs, but when you’ve had a pretty decent career in an adjacent industry, it’s worth explaining how and why you’re the best qualified person for the role.
Want to know more about this kind of stuff? Take a look at some of our previous pieces supported by the Cision Jobs team on how to make your job applications stand out, a run through of what to change on your CV, places to get free training, and what you should actually be using LinkedIn for.
This CV was the one which landed her a gig at WIRED, and it’s interesting to see how she’s phrased her work experience in previous PR jobs.
It’s not how you’d probably write the CV if you were looking for another press officer job – instead she’s pulling out the relevant strands of experience from what she’s down before.
Again, the skills are niche and relevant, there are lots of links to examples of her work, and you can really get a feel for her specialisms.
The Design Gamble
Okay, straight up, we’re going to say right now that not everyone should try this. Design can very much go one of two ways – it can either really make a CV stand out from the pile, or it can look pretty damn bad and thrown together.
This said, we wanted to share a few examples of what can be done and the results it can have. The first CV on the left hand side is one I designed for a site called ParentZone.
I put the CV and cover letter in quite close to the deadline – and unbeknown to me they were already on the second round of interviews for the role. Thanks to the effort I put in on the CV though, they drafted me into the final stages.
I ultimately didn’t get the role, but I also don’t really know anything about children. So, fair enough really.
The other was a CV I put together for the team at Time Out, which today still remains one of my proudest achievements. I remember sitting in my flat with a ruler, laptop and old copy of Time Out to get the measurements picture perfect, much to the amusement of my flatmate.
Again, I didn’t quite cinch the role, but it did catapult me to the interview stages, with the team saying the effort and creativity was a big part in that.
This kind of thing really depends on the outlet you’re applying for. I doubt The Times would have been quite as impressed with approach, but for a cheeky, fun, and creative outlet like Time Out it can pay off.
The Final Words…
So, we’ll leave you with one more for now. This one landed Conor his job with JPI Media. He joined them as a digital journalist and now works across Edinburgh News and The Scotsman.
Not that we want to keep telling you the same things over and over (that’s a lie, we do), but note the strong focus on experience over education, the clear examples given, and how the most important sections are prioritised by giving them more space.
Got your CV in a good place now? Then it’s time to get applying. Head to our partners at Cision Jobs for the widest range of journalism jobs open right now.
No two CVs should ever be the same – every person will always have different experiences, and you should be tailoring each CV to the job in hand, but there are always a few simple rules that always hold true.
But, sometimes it’s easier to get that once you can see what works – and hopefully these do the trick.
This article was produced with the support of Cision Jobs, the leading journalism jobs board. Visit them here to find hundreds of journalism jobs live right now.