Do you have a nose for a good story? If you want to break into the media sector, writing an engaging journalist CV is the first step. This competitive and fast-paced field is forever changing. So, it’s your job to show recruiters that you have what it takes to keep up.
Whether you work in print, digital, or broadcast, you have to share your skills and expertise on a simple one-page document. Getting your foot in the door can be tough. However, bustling in with a well-written and perfectly designed CV is a clever place to start.
Here at Resume.io, we’ve got you covered with writing guides, dozens of CV examples, and a CV builder. You’ve got everything you need to accelerate your job search. Within this writing guide — along with the corresponding CV example — we will cover:
- What journalists do and why it matters
- How to write a journalist CV (including a copyable CV sample)
- The best layout for your journalism CV
- Help on each section of your CV (summary, work history, education, skills)
- Expert-backed design hints and tips.
What does a journalist do?
Before we take a look at how to write your CV, let’s delve into what journalists do. Put simply, these esteemed professionals find and share news stories with the world. There are different types of journalists — ranging from broadcast journalists to feature writers.
Your day-to-day tasks will depend largely on the type of journalism you do. For example, if you are a broadcast journalist, you may find yourself recording audio, video, and editing stories. On the other hand, if you’re a print or online journalist, you will be sniffing out stories, writing them, and even editing them. Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s talk about money! Before you embark on your career in journalism, you need to know how much you will get paid. Your salary will depend on your skill level, your experience, and where you are based in the country.
According to Payscale, the average wage for a journalist in the United Kingdom is £25,699. As you gain more experience, your bank balance will reflect that. You can expect to make up to £42,000 when you have reached the highest ranks in the role.
The world of digital and print media is varied. Your ‘beat’ determines what topics you cover. For example, if you are a news journalist at a daily paper, you will be chasing down current stories fast. On the other hand, music journalists will mainly write reviews, interviews, and features. Crime journalists may cover long-form investigative pieces.
Alternatively, if you go into TV broadcast journalism, you may find that your role varies depending on your particular position. You might be in front of the camera delivering the news, writing the scripts behind the scenes, or even editing footage after the fact. Needless to say, it takes a massively varied skill-set to be able to excel in this career.
Regardless of the type of journalism you wish to pursue, you need to know how to get your CV looking spick and span. It takes a certain finesse to showcase your talents and many experiences on a one-page CV. Luckily, we have all the advice you need to get it right.
How to write a journalist CV
You already know what makes a good story — now is the time to tell yours. The first step in writing your journalist CV is knowing what to include. Much like a successful news piece has a headline, a hook, and the body, you need a solid structure. Here’s what to include:
- The CV header
- The CV summary (aka profile or personal statement)
- The employment history section
- The CV skills section
- The education section
When you’re writing your journalist CV you have to do research. Before you apply to a certain media outlet, familiarise yourself with the type of stories they cover. Many well-known publications are owned and managed by larger parent companies, such as Hearst and Dotdash. You should have no problem getting the information you need. Investigate the company and use any details you have to inform your journalism CV.
You should also optimise your CV for the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). The software — which is used by many businesses — ranks incoming CVs by how well they fit the job specification. By using certain keywords or phrases from the job description, you can effortlessly increase your overall chances of gaining that all-important interview.
Choosing the best CV format for a journalist
In most cases, the best format will be the reverse chronological approach. Start with your most recent experience and education, and then work your way back in time. As you can see from our CV sample, this option is easy to structure and looks crisp and clean too.
Hiring managers spend between six and seven seconds looking at each CV that lands on their desk. That doesn’t give you a long time to make the right impression. By using the reverse chronological CV format, you make sure they can see your latest achievements immediately. Armed with that information, they can quickly decide if you’re a good fit.
Need some inspiration? Check out our guide to CV formats to learn more information.
CV summary example: hooking your audience
What’s your hook? When crafting a news piece, you need an intriguing fact to get the audience on board. Your CV is no different. In just three to four lines, your CV summary gives recruiters a flavour of who you are and what you bring to the table. Make it count.
You can afford to flex your creative muscles for a minute. Hiring managers will expect you to have a way with words, especially if you are a writer. For that reason, you can afford to add a splash of personality to your CV summary. Showcase your broad vocabulary here.
The word count matters. You don’t have the space to write that novel you’ve always dreamed of. You should keep things short and sweet. Cover your Unique Selling Point (USP), awards or certificates, and any experience that sets you apart from the crowd.
Experienced Journalist with a Masters Degree in Journalism from the University of Glasgow. Specialising in investigative journalism and political reporting.
Employment history sample: telling your story
Experience gets you everywhere. Within your employment section, highlight any experience you have in the field. You can start out with the basics: the company name, your position, and the dates of your employment. When you’ve done all of the above, get into the real meat of the story — tell a recruiter why your experience matters.
There’s no room for fluffy filler here. You can use a bullet point approach beneath the employment headers. Keep things concise by omitting any ‘I,’ ‘I have,’ or ‘I am’ phrases. Instead, you need to get right to the point. For example, rather than saying ‘I am an experienced journalist,’ cut to the chase and simply write ‘Experienced journalist’.
Wherever possible, pick out pieces of information that will interest a recruiter and quantify them. If you’re working in the digital sphere, you may use your readership to do this. For instance, you could highlight that your feature was shared 10,000 times on social media.
Journalist, Politico Paper, Glasgow
Apr 2018 - Present
- Oversee political reporting, investigative journalism, and the audio documentary production efforts for the Politico Paper.
- Develop and maintain crucial links with news sources.
- Evaluate and follow up on news leads and events.
- Travel to the site of events to deliver live reports.
- Arrange interviews and write riveting stories using pertinent information.
- Report headline news covering county and state legislature updates.
- Cover county and state politics as well as crime and accidents.
- Provide primary coverage for governmental entities.
- Write scripts, record audio tracks, and report live five days per week.
- On track to increasing our readership by 60%, as has been the case for the last four years.
Political Reporter, Glasgow Knows News, Glasgow
Mar 2014 - Mar 2018
- Researched stories and wrote articles uncovering important information.
- Operated as a news team leader under the manager's supervision.
- Developed and fostered nationwide contacts.
- Reported all news and feature stories on our live social media platforms.
- Delivered accurate and original content.
- Continually met monthly digital traffic goals.
- Researched the competition to ensure our content was consistently superior.
CV skills example: selling your talents
Modern-day journalists need a varied skill-set — showcase your talents on your CV. This is also an excellent opportunity to pepper your application with appropriate keywords. You can refer back to the job description and cherry-pick some words that stand out there.
To make it in the media sector, you need a mixture of both hard and soft skills. Hard skills may include court reporting, shorthand, and a knowledge of media law. Soft skills are complementary talents, such as excellent communication skills and being a team player.
- Investigative Reporting
- Creative Writing
- Effective Time Management
- Content Writing
- Public Speaking
Journalism CV education example
As we have covered, you can use a reverse chronological approach for your education section. You may have a degree in journalism, an NCTJ accredited course, or a related qualification. In any case, start with your most recent qualification and work backwards.
Start out with the school or institute, the qualification, and the dates you completed it. Next, you can add some detail. Bullet-point standout modules, projects, or achievements you gained while studying. Keep in mind that many trainee journalists will have the same educational background as you. Pick out any nuggets that make you a stellar candidate.
Battle of the media platforms!
The world of media is rapidly changing. Over the last decade, we have seen a decline in print journalism alongside the soaring popularity of online publications.
According to a recent Ofcom report, TV is the most used news platform in the United Kingdom — watched by 79 percent of adults — closely followed by the internet at 64 percent. Conversely, only 44 percent of Brits said that they still read newspapers.
University of Glasgow, Master of Arts in Journalism, Glasgow
Sep 2010 - May 2014
CV layout and design: first impressions
Looks aren’t everything but they do matter. When you’re creating your journalist CV, it’s important that you pitch the design perfectly. Here are some of the top tips to keep in mind.
- Use a simple CV layout and make use of white space where possible
- Pick one or two fonts to use throughout the document
- Make sure that the writing is legible and keep to a 10pt size
- Overcomplicate the design or use a super colourful CV template
- Try to cram too much information onto the one-page document
- Add in too many creative flairs such as graphs or infographics
It’s all too easy to make silly design mistakes that could cost you an interview. Take all of the hassle out of this process by using a professionally-designed CV template. Using one of the field-tested designs means that you will have the competitive edge.
Key takeaways for a journalist CV
- As a journalist, you may work in the print, digital, or broadcast sector. In any case, having an excellent journalism CV is a must.
- It’s important to do some research before you start applying for jobs. The better you know the company or media outlet, the higher your chances of getting hired.
- You can increase your chances of success by using keywords to beat the ATS.
- Using a tried and tested CV template will save you time, effort, and energy.