During a job search, how you present yourself to potential employers is incredibly important. With digital tools, you also have a whole other world of networking opportunities — so make sure you take advantage of it! Here are some tips for making the best of social media and your online presence when looking for your next journalism position.
The basics: Update your profiles across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Make sure they reflect your skills and interests. Use the same name or acronym across the services so people recognize you. Using the same picture also helps.
You don’t have a blog yet? Get on it! (No, seriously. Do it right now). Starting a blog is incredibly easy, and you will learn a ton. I’m partial to WordPress, but other platforms like Blogger or Tumblr will work well, too.
Find a subject you’re interested in and start writing. Actually, give it some thought first to make sure you find something you’re truly passionate about. Set a goal to post x times a week and stick to it. A month-old post at the top of your site will not leave a good impression.
Having a blog helps you focus on what you want to say about yourself. Filling in your “About” page is an exercise in self-reflection: What am I really all about? What do I want people to know? (Hint: you want to let them know that they can hire you — don’t be afraid to say you’re looking for a job — and why they should).
Ben Balter recently offered some tips on using WordPress to build your personal brand. Link your blog to your social media profiles to make it a one-stop shop. You can also use Flavors to create a central hub of all your profiles. For inspiration, see Kat Downs, who I worked with on a project, or Adam Westbrook, who also wrote a guide for using Flavors to get you started.
Create a digital resume
Now that you’re blogging, it’s time to add some additional pages to your site to let people know about your skills. Admittedly, not all of us can be as awesome as Heather Billings, who made her site a graphic, interactive resume. But at the very least, your site should have a “resume” page with an online and a downloadable version of your resume.
Why both? The online version should include links to your work and the organizations you’ve worked at, and could include details that didn’t make the print version. Again, we turn to Heather, as well as Greg Linch and Anthony DeBarros, for examples.
Actually, hyperlinks aren’t limited to the web version, but I’d recommend using them more sparingly on your print copy (someone might actually print it and then have lots of blue text on the page).
For this download copy, make sure you name the file smartly, e.g. Name_Resume, when you upload it because this name will show up on peoples’ desktop or download folder. Also remember to redact any information, such as address or phone number, that you might not want on the Internet.
Patrick Thornton has additional helpful tips on designing and building your digital resume.
Additional tip: Remember that your website is part of your online resume. As I said above, a blog that’s never updated doesn’t look good. If that’s not your thing, opt for a simple website without the blogging aspect. I highly recommend blogging, though, because it is another way to enter the conversation with other journalists and to keep working on your skills. And if you blog about your area of journalistic expertise, it’s one more way to show a potential employer how awesome you are.
Join your alumni group on LinkedIn, as well as other groups that fit your interests. For starters, I’m a German-born digital journalist based in D.C. — lots of areas I can connect with others. Use sites like meetup.com to find meetings in your area that interest you, and take your networking offline to meet people IRL. The broader your network, the better.
Participate in journalism-centric Twitter chats
It’s networking on Twitter! Join one of the Twitter chats for journalists, like #wjchat, #spjchat, #pubmedia or #journchat. (Not enough hastags? Check out this spreadsheet of weekly Twitter chats.) The chats are usually on the same day of the week and often cover a specific topic. Introduce yourself, ask questions, participate. You’ll learn a lot both about Twitter and about who’s working on what and for whom, what peoples’ interests and expertise are.
Additional tip: Add the chat hashtag search to your Tweetdeck or search the hashtag on the Twitter site every now and then. When people post job alerts interesting to one chat group they often include the hashtag, so make sure you don’t miss those!
Follow journalists who work for organizations you’re interested in
By participating in journalists’ Twitter chats, you will find many people who work for news organizations. Follow them, especially the ones who work somewhere you also want to work. See who they’re talking to, and expand your network. This also keeps you up to date on what the organizations you’re interested in are doing.
You can organize the journalists you follow in a list like I did. Being connected to these people will help you hear about job opportunities before others do.
I actually found out about my new job via Twitter, where Jeff Sonderman posted a tweet late one day that TBD was looking for a web producer. See? It works!
Haven’t had enough? I highly recommend two posts by Alexis Grant, a journo friend of mine who writes career advice for U.S. News and World Report:
13 tips for job hunters – because I’ve been there (she agrees with me that “blog is the new resume”!) and
How to use social media to look for a job
Check out Tracy Boyer’s advice for potential bloggers,Don’t just ‘do it’, before you get started.
If you have additional tips, leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear them!