Don’t ask me to write a cover letter for a journalism job.
Right now reporting gigs are nearly impossible to come upon for the talented peers of mine looking for industry work – some have already moved on.
Some jobs may still be available, but really, despite their struggles and job loss, one newspaper department is as powerful as ever: human resources.
Below see how I think the job-hiring process should go.
Today, reporting-position vacancies are promoted with online job-posting sites like JournalismJobs.com or through word of mouth/e-mail.
Send a resume, cover letter and three to five to seven clips.
Now back in March, Seth Godin made the claim that if you really think you’re special, you shouldn’t have a resume at all. Last month I argued you need a “mental resume” regardless of what paper your bringing.
If you’re a reporter looking for work in 2008, you’re not going to make any bold moves. You’re resume ought to be proofread and crisp. I tack three to five related references – however many I can fit on that version of my resume.
But when it comes to cover letters, well, I think that’s just silly.
Here’s how I think it should go.
- I see your posting.
- I e-mail you, following the rules of brevity.
- I link to three to five to seven clips at whatever newspaperdotcom.
- I attach my resume, but also link to my curriculum vitae online.
- I offer to include text versions or printed copies if preferred
- Editor/HR thanks me for applying, tell me online clips are fine (it saves the clutter and waiting).
- Editor/HR sees where I got my clips, reads my lede, checks my resume to see that and other related work I’ve done. (This takes 10 minutes)
- If I pass that bar, Editor/HR calls one of my references at random to check if I’m on the level (five minutes).
- Editor/HR calls me to ask a few questions, more to feel me out. If I “pass,” we schedule a sit-down. (five minutes)
- I go for an interview in-person, before or after which Editor/HR may call the rest of my references.
- I wait for an answer or some news one-week later.
- We go to work.
Nowhere in here do I think a cover letter helps. Clips are the judge of my writing. The references and interviews judge me personally. A cover letter is a waste of time and redundant.
Are they just another obstacle? Are they often read?
Photo courtesy of WikiHow.