1) A Strong Reel
If you’re looking for an on-air job in TV, radio or even digital news platforms, your reel is your greatest asset. It shows a hiring manager you can report, write, shoot, track, edit – all the skills you’ll need every day in the newsroom. Your first step in job hunting is to produce a reel – and yes, you can use work from student media, or even stories you shoot on your own just for your reel.
Exactly how a reel should be formatted is an ongoing debate, and news directors will always have personal preferences. But there are three keys to creating a good reel, no matter the exact format you choose:
- First impressions are crucial. You have just seconds to impress a news director enough they’ll keep watching, so put your best work up front.
- The content is what matters most. Appearance and delivery are important, but news directors know those things are easy to improve with experience. Your content – story choices and reporting – are how you demonstrate you have the fundamental skills needed for the job.
- The purpose of a demo reel is to get you an interview. Your reel is your introduction. It’s how a hiring manager decides they want to know more about you. Think of it as the first step in getting to know a newsroom, not the only step.
2) An Attractive Resume
Like reels, resumes are an endless subject of debate over the perfect length, the right layout and what level of creativity helps or hurts. But no hard-and-fast rule about format will make your resume a hit or a flop.
Again, it’s more about content. Your resume should be like a brochure showing how you can help a newsroom reach its goals. It should share what you have accomplished, not just what your typical to do list looked like. And it should show a hiring manager your personality, not just your professional laundry list.
3) Your network
If being a journalist is all about your network of sources, being a journalist on the hunt for a job is all about your professional network. When you’re just starting out, it can be hard to build genuine connections with industry leaders.
Networking is not about finding people who could hire you and asking for a job. It’s about developing as a professional. Think about people in the field you admire and what you’d like to learn from them. Reach out with specific questions. If your first goal is to learn and grow, people you meet will recognize your passion and be more likely to help when you do ask about job leads.
4) The Interview
Once you’ve landed an interview with a hiring manager at a station you’re excited about, approach it like you would a story. Do your research! Learn about the newsroom, its needs and its news philosophy. Show how that aligns with your own professional experience and goals.
You should also be able to tell your own story. Remember, you’re looking for a job as a storyteller. Practice telling your story like you would a character in a feature piece. What would make a news director invested in you and your passion?
5) Finding the Right Fit
It’s possible to have a stellar reel, outstanding resume, strong network and successful interview – and end up in a miserable job.
A successful application process is not just one that ends in an offer. It’s one that ends with an offer you’re excited about with a newsroom where you can excel and grow. In your application process, remember that it’s not just about how you impress a hiring manager. The match must work both ways. A newsroom where you’re applying should impress you too.