Monday, September 2, 2013

How to Get a Journalism Job, Step one

Write an epic cover letter. 

Katherine Goldstein, an editor at Slate, lays out the do's and don'ts of getting to the top of the resume pile and scoring yourself an interview, if not a job.  Among the tips:

* Leave out the musings about your personal journeys, your spiritual awakening or your lifelong desire to "be a writer".
* Include specifics about what you know/love about the publication. 
* And: spoiler alert.  no one really cares what your GPA was, where you went to school, or what your senior thesis was all about.  Much more important is evidence of the journalism you have already done.

Here's a taste:
Explain how selecting you will benefit me. This is where candidates often get it totally backward. I frequently read lines like: “I am applying for this paid internship because I think working at Slate would be highly beneficial for me, and would do a lot to help my future job prospects for a career in media for after I graduate from college.” I know how working at Slate would strengthen your résumé. But I am looking to you, candidate X, to solve a problem for me. My problem is that I need good interns. Explain to me how choosing you will solve my problem. Here’s how one candidate convinced me that his skills were pertinent to the role I was hiring for: “From my editorial experience as managing editor of 34th Street Magazine here at Penn, to my experience in news and culture blogging at last summer, I've picked up the tools I need to perform as a Slatest intern with excellence.”
And one more thing:  keep it short.  bk

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