I have at least three fairly different resumes stored in my Google Documents, ready to e-mail to editors, mentors, advisers or welfare agents.
For Philadelphia’s newest admitted freelance journalist, it’s a must because I am never quite certain exactly how I am branding myself and for what sort of work I might be pursuing.
How many resumes do you have? Are you ready to bust them out the moment someone of even the vaguest professional merit comes within sniffing distance?
Now some question whether paper resumes, or even their digital cousins, are still relevant, as I have about business cards for journalists, but if you aren’t ready to shake that tradition just yet, it behooves you to be able to fit yourself in multiple professional roles – preferably ones you might actually like and certainly ones you can defend with a mental resume.
Here are details on my three resume versions.
- Freelance journalist: Even for a freelancer, a resume, planted online like mine here, is a necessity. Screw your one-sentence “Objective” in this industry, unless you’re applying for a permanent gig and that sentence is directly tailored to the position. For journalism, bump that education to the bottom (sorry, your GPA doesn’t matter here), and instead lead with professional experience. I think it’s worth having a list of experiences because the more of those you have the better writer you just might be. Give a nod to travel, unrelated internships or unpaid work in unrelated fields that might lead you to have some perspective when writing. While the argument against resumes is that it gives employers a reason to shoot you down, instead, many editors ask of me a resume and a clips, as a stall and a low barrier. With two links, I pass the stall and cross the barrier:
- Government and research: I graduated Temple University with a political science degree, so, I am supposed to have some form of knowledge there. Here I lead with my education, pretty GPA and Latin phrasing. Instead of phrasing a newspaper internship by the section for which I wrote, I describe it more generally as work with an urban daily newspaper. I drop some of my blogging experience, and instead include the work I’ve done with the Committee of Seventy.
- Nonprofit: Now, in my experience, there are two broad types of nonprofits. Corporate nonprofits, like Seventy, the country’s oldest political oversight group with offices in Center City, and advocacy nonprofits, like the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, which connects residents with welfare programs from its offices in the Tioga neighborhood of North Philadelphia. I’ve worked with both and seen the tremendous good they do on relatively stringent budgets, but I might rearrange this third resume of mine depending on what kind of nonprofit with whom I would be working. For a corporate nonprofit, I’d begin with my education, then follow with professional experience, but for advocacy, I’d likely lead with any related experiences, whether they were paid or not. One is looking for a high functioning candidate with a lot of brain, while the other is looking for one with a lot of heart.
When you’re entering the freelance world and offering varied services, like I am trying, it’s important to be able to spin yourself in a variety of ways. While resumes are most often associated with permanent gigs, even temporary work, like freelance writing for any group, parttime research or otherwise, comes down to resumes still. Have yours ready.
Now, personally, I strongly benefit from pursuing a Liberal Arts education, which afforded me experiences outside the newsroom but even if you haven’t you can turn your work into something any group, organization or editor would desire.
If you want any advice or have thoughts, then drop a comment below or contact me here.
Photo courtesy of TempAgencyChicago.