Have zero typos or grammatical errors. Just one could land you in the recycling bin.
Contact info at the top of the page should include a mailing address, email address and phone number.
Text is left justified.
Bold section heads.
Use clear fonts.
Check spelling and punctuation, follow AP italicizing guidelines for magazines, websites, etc., and check with the publication/site/organization for their own preference. Is it New York Times, New York Times, or The New York Times? What about when referring to the website for The New York Times?
Forgo an introductory paragraph or “Objective” listing unless you have very little relevant experience or a wide mix of experience. If you do include one be sure it is always specific to the position at hand.
Be one page.
The person hiring you is looking at loads of one page resumes and will lose interest if asked to read longer.
Remember that a resume is a form of writing you are doing for a potential journalism job. The employer wants to know you can write tightly and that you have some editing sense. Your resume will reflect this.
Exceptions are academic resumes or resumes where employers have asked for extensive contact information for references.
Be a living document.
Revisit your resume for each job/internship.
Add newly-published pieces and newly-acquired skills as they happen.
Usually lead with work and relevant experience.
List your last job first, first job last. Include month and year for start and stop dates.
Get clear on the strengths of your work background and your relevant experience and then further define it for each potential job or internship.
Freelance work counts.
So do non-journalism jobs in relevant fields (business, finance, law, PR, politics, environment, the arts).
Brag about your big stories (generated hits, created controversy).
List any award winners.
Blogs and websites that you’ve worked on can be included, whether or not they dealt with news.
When defining work and relevant experience go beyond title and duties and be descriptive. Get in information about the organization, as well as your beat or the different kinds of stories you covered. If you’ve covered a story with real impact or that stands out in some way, include it. “City desk writer for this Hong Kong newspaper,” is more memorable when it becomes “Covered breaking local news at the rate of three stories a day for Hong Kong’s biggest newspaper. Recent story on Donald Tsang’s use of government funds to feed his personal koi pond went viral and resulted in judicial investigation.”
Follow with education* and skills.
Education on a resume begins at university level. Name the university and the degree and date awarded (or expected). It is OK to list relevant awards/scholarship at the university level and any honors designations. You can briefly describe what you studied/are studying, i.e., courses in environmental reporting, media law, radio skills, video editing.
As a general rule, test scores and grades and class rankings are irrelevant in the work world. Certifications are only relevant if the job requires them. If you are going for a straight translation job, you can include scores.
*You can lead a resume that is void of journalism experience with education, followed by work experience. This is when HKU becomes your strongest asset.
Provide a skills section.
List languages and proficiency here. (This information can be worked in higher in the resume if applying for position requiring translation.)
List any and all editing programs for photo, design, sound, video, audio slideshows, web design.
List social media.
List CMS experience (content management systems for the web, including WordPress).
List sophisticated recording equipment.
List any knowledge of databases.
Do NOT list Microsoft Word or other word processing programs. Knowledge of Word is assumed.
The debate about references.
Some recruiters say they don’t care about seeing these right off the bat but if you have especially strong references, you should include them by name, affiliation, and contact information. If you are running out of space and they are strong, they can be added to a second page.
A note about awards.
If you have a string of awards that are related to journalism or the job in question, you’ll want to create a separate awards section for your resume. This can come before skills. Otherwise, just include a relevant award with the job or university where it was earned.
A note about time gaps.
You don’t want it to seem as if you took large periods of time off so it’s OK to include jobs that aren’t journalism related, or to have an entry that groups together various temporary jobs over a span of time. However, if you can delete an unrelated job without creating a gap (maybe you interned or got freelance gigs at the same time), then cut.
A note about other fields.
The work you’ve done in other fields can have its own section (you can divide your resume into “Work Experience” and “Other Experience”) but try to still spin it in your description so it’s relevant to journalism. Any writing or editing involved? Researching? Interacting with officials or interviewing folks?
A note about culture.
For U.S. jobs or jobs with U.S. companies, do not include headshots or mention your age, marital status, any children, or physical measurements. All of this information is considered potential for discrimination and will make employers uncomfortable.
Some companies would like to hear if you’ve done a good deal of traveling. This is especially appealing to U.S. news outlets.