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CV – show don’t tell

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When it comes to putting together your journalist CV forget everything you were taught in careers lessons at school/college. Your CV is there to show a prospective employer that you have the skills for the job, not to tell them you have the skills for the job.

1. Delete the personal statement.

Instead of leading with a paragraph of clichés, describing yourself as ‘dependable, conscientious and punctual with a positive ‘can do’ attitude’ (an excerpt from my old CV), start with your most recent employment, work experience placement or internship which clearly states the things you did in that role that mean you have the skills to excel in the job you are applying for (your CV should be tailored to each job application).

For example: imagine you are applying to be a writer for the web and you’ve just done a work experience placement for a website. The skills they might be looking for are; computer savvy, experience with WordPress and an understanding of social media. As a suggestion and assuming the next three points are true, you might list your position, employer, and the following:

– Uploading content to a WordPress based site

– Using social media to publicize content

– Sourcing and editing pictures using Photoshop

2. Keep it relevant.

All the employer needs to know at this stage is that you can do the job. They don’t care if you’ve climbed a mountain for charity or if you’re a prima ballerina in your spare time (unless these things directly relate to the job you are applying for). If they want to know about your hobbies it will come up in the interview stage; that’s the chance for them to get to know you.

3. Ditch the two page rule.

It was drummed into me at college that my CV HAD to be two pages long. One page is the new two. Microsoft Word has some really good tools that enable you to make the most of the space on the page; for mine I narrowed margins and inserted textboxes for my contact info and references.

3. Hyperlink to anything you can. If you say part of your job was to live blog for an event or make a video for a website, link your work to that part of your CV (everything is requested over email nowadays).

4. Design. You don’t have to have degree level design skills or expensive software to make your CV look attractive. Again, use Microsoft Word to add a bit of style and colour. Chose one colour theme, add a border and change the colour, font or boldness of text that needs to stand out, such as job titles or qualifications.

Take a look at mine for a simple example, it is by no means a perfect CV but it’s far better than my old one (and it got me a job interview!) –

P.S. The spray paint is so I don’t get any stalkers, I am not advising you to do this on your real one.

Rhian Jones journalist apprentice CV

– List two recent references (who have agreed to give you a reference) here from jobs that have similarities to the one you are applying for.

If you need any more help head over to WannabeHacks where you can upload your CV and get tips from fellow wannabe journos on how to improve it.


About Rhian Jones

I am a freelance music business journalist based in London. My career began when I saw an apprenticeship with freelance education journalist Janet Murray advertised in the Guardian. I applied, and after a gruelling two-day Alan Sugar style assessment, got the job, quit university and relocated to London to pursue my dream of a career in the media. The apprenticeship ended on a high when I secured my first journalism job at Music Week. I spent my week days writing news stories, interviewing and learning all about the fast paced nature of putting together a weekly magazine, all while gaining invaluable insight into the inner workings of the music business. After three years and a few promotions, I left my position as news editor to go freelance in 2015. Alongside two regular gigs as London correspondent for US trade rag Hits, and contributing editor for Music Business Worldwide, I've written for publications including Company, Grazia, The Sunday Telegraph, the Guardian, The Independent, Music Ally, Billboard, The Journalist and Music Teacher.

2 responses »

  1. Wow, this is a really brilliant article. I love your CV layout and will be taking note of your advice. Thank you very much 🙂


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