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How to Find Your First Newspaper Job

Tips to Get Newspaper JobsAlthough some people claim that newspapers are slowly dying out, they are still a very important media medium and a popular place to start job hunting for people who enjoy writing, researching, working with others, traveling and learning. However, actually getting a job for a newspaper is rough. The competition is often the fierce, the positions are few and it’s often a matter of who you know as well as what you know. But with careful planning, you can get your first job in a newspaper-it just may not be precisely what you were expecting from it!

Know What You Want, but be Flexible

Before you even start job hunting, take a good hard look at yourself. What kind of experiences do you have to offer? Travel, different languages and cultures, volunteer work, education…. All of these things and more contribute to the successful journalist. What do you want from your job? Do you have to stay in a specific area? Big city or small town? Do you want to be a writer, editor, photographer, designer, or manager? Do you love to travel? Do you want a small paper or a large one? Figure out what kind of goals you have because the one in charge of hiring will certainly want to know! This will also help you to mold your resume and applications to target jobs you actually want and will excel in.

However, it’s also important to be flexible. Hardly anyone gets into a huge publication as a first job; it’s far more common to start at a small paper and work your way up. Don’t knock the little guys though: you’ll get experiences in all sorts of newspaper work depending on what is needed that day, you’ll get to see how everything works on a micro scale so that you can apply it in the big leagues and you’ll get to start off in a smaller environment which is often more comfortable.

And finally, know your newspapers before you apply! Read free copies, get a subscription and generally get to know how it’s laid out, how it reflects the community, what kind of information it has and what its strengths and weaknesses are so you can see how you’d best fit in. And of course, know its market, circulation, history and traditions. This will show the hiring people that you are serious about working for them and shows off your abilities to learn about something at the same time.

Applying for the Job

Once you know which newspapers you wish to work for, it’s time to brush up your resume and cover letter. In your resume, be sure to highlight your education, activities, leadership skills, hobbies and activities you do which are related to journalism, any second languages and work experience. You should also make sure you have references and of course, be easy to find!

Your resume should also include samples of your best work-usually five o six. If you don’t have any published pieces, use classroom assignments.

Once you have your papers in order, then it’s time to start applying. Many newspapers start picking up interns in December, so if you’re doing an internship, you should be thinking about in August and September and applying in October. Don’t forget to include a letter of application to the editor to tell them who you are and what you have to offer and make sure to thank them for the opportunity to interview with them!

And of course, at the interview make sure you are dressed in business attire, conduct yourself appropriately (direct eye contact, good posture, ask questions, give good answers, take notes, remember names, ask for a business card and smile) and of course, make sure to keep in touch with a follow-up thank you note.

You may have to rinse and repeat this process several times to land a job, but in the meantime, do things like read up on the industry regularly, keep up with related extracurricular activities and keep polishing your portfolio. Job hunting is a poor excuse to put everything else aside after all!

Good luck and hopefully people will see your name in the newspaper staff section soon enough!