By Lauren Saxe
Ah, yes. The million-dollar question: What do I need to put on my resume to get the job? These editors have been around the block and they’re here to help with some starting points.
You started at your student or local publication. Whether it’s a town newspaper or student-run magazine, racking up clips throughout your college years, at your university and internships, is a must. Honing in on relevant, specific examples from those experiences makes for a great talking point in interviews.
“Honestly, what I got asked about the most throughout the interview process was the campus news sites I headed,” says Alexandra Svokos, Senior News Editor at Elite Daily.
“They both have funny names and are far from stand-up, admin-supported campus newspapers, so it was a lot of explaining about their background and what was involved in keeping them running. Working on those sites was a ton of legitimate media experience, so it was helpful to be able to focus on them and show off all the work that went into them, to prove my mettle in media.”
You have lots of different internships. Sometimes one national title or well-known brand name gets your foot in the door, but there’s also something to be said for having a handful of smaller, diverse publications.
“Before entering the job market, I had three editorial internships: one at a tech publisher, one at a local lifestyle publisher, and one at a B2B publisher,” says Jeff Cattel, Snapchat Discover Channel Manager at SELF.
“I didn’t intentionally try to nab internships at such diverse publishers, but that diversity helped me a lot in the job search process. I was able to talk about working in a number of different environments and showcase my willingness to dive headfirst into a new and unfamiliar coverage area.”
You got a good education. Scoring internships at smaller publications can also hook you up with an amazing set of clips. But if your portfolio isn’t chock full of writing samples, try focusing on other strong points on your resume.
“I had gotten my Masters in Professional Writing from USC, and even though I didn’t really have many clips, my bosses were impressed with the school and the program,” says Marielle Wakim, Arts and Culture Editor at Los Angeles magazine.
Although her impressive education caught the eyes of her future employers, Wakim insists that her success at the magazine is due to the work she put in from day one at her internship, making her a shoe-in to eventually be hired on full time.
“Honestly, it was what happened after I got a foot in the door that got me hired; I was the first one at the office, the last one to leave, and I made myself available to the editors for any assignment at any time. After my internship was over, they created a new position just for me so that they could bring me on full time.”
You can write. Big-name publications and connections can be a great foundation, but your clips are what will really shine through from a publication big or small.
“To be perfectly frank, I think resumes matter insofar as they get your foot in the door — if someone recognizes your byline, your previous place of employment, etc., you’re more likely to score an interview, but it doesn’t really help beyond that stage,” says EJ Dickson, Deputy Digital Editor at Men’s Health.
“When I interview people now as a manager, I like having the resume in front of me as a guide for the conversation (‘Oh so you worked there? Did you know that person?’), but at the end of the day if your clips are good, if your edit test is strong, and if I think you’re a good fit for the role we are hiring for, that’s more important to me than where you worked in 2014 or whatever.”
You show off your skills. But that doesn’t mean the editor doesn’t believe in spicing up your resume and having a little bit of fun with it. She showed off some personality with one of her special skills listed – a stellar Macy Gray impersonation. Although sometimes it got her the job and others it didn’t, it made her stand out. She proved she wasn’t afraid to step outside of the box, and at the end of the day, that’s the best thing you can do as you settle into your career.