Resumes for Broadcast Journalists

August 17, 2011

I know what you’re thinking. When it comes to Broadcast News, it’s not about the resume. It’s all about the demo reel (formerly known as tape.) But with a tight job market, the resume can showcase what your tape can’t.Namely, what else makes you head and shoulders above all those other Broadcast Journalists vying for the same job? Have you any won awards or brought up the ratings? Will you pass a background check with ease? It’s no longer safe to assume.Get to the PointBroadcast Journalism is all about brevity and easy to understand language. Your resume needs to be the same way. It’s no longer about the boring job descriptions and fluffy $3 words. It’s needs to be narrowly focused, and highlight specific accomplishments: such as how you helped your former station increase ratings, earn industry awards, and raise awareness in the community. In other words, what did you do to make a difference?

In TV News, there is a short list questions to ask yourself before writing your resume.

1. What was the name of your station (slogan and call letters), network affiliation, city of license, area served, your job title and the years you worked there.
2. What was the market size (at that time?)
3. Did the station win any awards while you were there?
4. How did the station do in the ratings?
5. Did you handle any network live shots for CNN, Fox, NewsPath, NewsOne or NBC Newschannel on major stories of national interest?
6. Did you uncover any exclusive stories?
7. Did you help other members of the team with editing, writing, cabling, lighting, white balances, etc?
8. Did you develop any key sources and contacts?
9. Are you a member of any professional associations?
10. Do you do any volunteer work?

What else do you do?

Do you maintain pricey gear? Drive a station vehicle? Are you required to be on call 24/7 or on rotating weekends, holidays, and late nights? Do you volunteer your time as an emcee at charitable events? Do you have to present a professional image on on camera? Do you avoide legal trouble and high profile drama? Are you in touch with your audience on Facebook and continuously promote the station and your stories?

What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

Think about the worst fears of a station manager, and then address them in your resume. For example, if the job requires you to drive a company vehicle, it doesn’t hurt to brag about your clean MVR. You have no idea if a previous employee wrecked a news car, or was fired because of a DUI. Ease the hiring director’s mind from the start. These things matters. Otherwise they wouldn’t be asking for a copy of your MVR during the hiring process.

Don’t discount newsroom software and editing suites

Having a handle on the latest technology gives you an edge, (you won’t require much training) so include your computer proficiency. Name your newsroom software program and how fast you type (if it’s a stellar speed.) These are essential skills for any broadcast journalist. While spelling won’t matter as much in your industry; speed, accuracy, and a sense of urgency are required, even if it’s not mentioned in the job description.

Less is More

If you have a background that fills up four pages, you’ll need to find a way to pare it down. Most news directors will not read past two pages and with broadcast journalism, good writing counts! It’s important to remember, a resume is a summary, not your entire work history, so only include the best and most relevant information.

Be persistent

I’m amazed at the number of reporters who don’t follow up with a news director after sending a resume and tape. Do your sources call you back immediately when you are in pursuit of a story, or do they avoid your calls? Dogged persistent is a required trait of a good reporter. Show you’ve got what it takes to track down reluctant news makers. And inaccessible news directors.

Don’t plagiarize

Finally, resist the urge to copy a resume that you found in a book or on the internet. Copying phrases and sentences word for word is no different than plagiarizing a story.

While job security is a thing of the past, one of the best ways to manage your career is to document your job-related success starting with the 10 questions listed above.

About Susan Geary

Susan Geary is a certified resume writer and employment radio talk show host with experience as a former TV news producer and manager. She’s owned and operated 1st Rate Résumés® since 2000, and is active is several resume writing associations. Contact her through her website at

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