Beating the Competition - Setting Yourself Apart as a Journalist

Friday, September 2, 2011

Regardless of whether a person is currently working hard at obtaining their Journalism degree or has recently graduated from college with a Journalism degree, there are many things that can be done to prepare for the competitive job market. As a new journalist, the resume has to be impressive in order to compete with veteran journalists, as well as the floods of aspiring journalists every Spring. The bright side: there is a lot you can be doing now that will benefit you in the future.

One of these is blogging. By creating and maintaining a blog, with at least two blog posts a week, it will show prospective employers that you have the ability to write and produce articles on a regular basis. In the writing world, the words "Writer's Block" may be an acceptable excuse, but deadlines have to be met in the journalism world. And unless you plan on being only an editorial journalist, blogs consisting of pure opinion are probably not the putting your best foot forward.

Another is networking with professionals. Put of all of your available resources to good use, whether that means digitally or the old-fashioned way. An article on 10000 Words suggests using any business cards you have collected so far from guest lecturers or professionals. By contacting these people, you may be able to get some post-graduation advice and could even stand to make a beneficial connection.

Potential job leads can come from these professionals. This also includes your professors. Even if they can't direct you on where to land your first big job, they might be willing to be used as a reference.

The third thing you can do is to establish yourself everywhere online. People everywhere are connected to the internet. The best way to get yourself, and those blogs mentioned above, noticed is to have a strong online presence. Simply having a Twitter account and a Facebook account does not qualify. Revamp your existing profiles to make them more professional. Network with others in the journalism profession, as well as other related fields where you could potentially beneficial contacts.

Use these accounts. Among a large list of 30 things that a Journalism Grad should do are posting 100 pictures to Flickr and maintaining a Delicious account with at least 50 links you find interesting. Using these sources often, and keeping them current, will keep your name out there for prospective employers to find.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice comes from the words of a professional, who was speaking at an International Symposium on Online Journalism.

school is just the beginning of learning. At the core is good writing and reporting, regardless of the medium. But to stand out from the crowd, journalism graduates should follow their passions, develop an area of specialization and master that area.
It seems logical that a journalist should follow their passions. If your heart is in your writing, it will be reflected by the quality that is produced. And those are the articles that you'll want prospective employers to see, because those are the ones that might lead to hearing, "You're hired!"

Photo courtesy of deanmeyersnet's Flickr via Creative Commons.


Megan Evans September 4, 2011 at 5:21 PM  

I think these are great ideas! Most of us already have active accounts for much of the social media, but this post gave helpful ideas on ways to better utilize them. There are some I was not familiar with, however, that just may soon be added to my to-do list. Journalism is a saturated field, but many are right now, so any ways to get ahead of the competition are extremely helpful. Is this a career for me? Still not sure, but I don't think it will hurt anything to start putting some of these practices into play.

Lyndsy Darland September 5, 2011 at 6:17 PM  

I don't even think this just has to be in the scope of journalism. The field of journalism is not a field I plan on being a part of due to the sheer pace of it all. However. this is useful in two realities; the aspiring journalist & the average person who needs to leverage the modern.
I write stories, and it never occurred to me to utilize a blog for exposure. A tool I feel people (like myself) are uncertain of, and feel that we "don't need it."
Why not? Fear? Uncertainty? Lack of training?
I am turning to the motto: if you need a platform for an idea/concept or a location to share your information a blog is a great resource.

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