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Archive for May 30th, 2012

John E. McIntyre

I am honored that the Baltimore Sun’s John E. McIntyre, whose blog is a must-read for copy editors, has responded (at my invitation) to my advice for copy editors.

I encourage you to read the full post, A future for copy editors. But I’ll note some highlights here:

  • John supports my call for efficiency in copy editing, telling “middle-initial fetishists” and AP-style cultists to “Stop wasting time on things that don’t matter much.” What does matter? John answers: “Let me remind you that it is possible for an article to be perfectly grammatical and conform to every last guideline in the AP Stylebook and still be dull, unclear, superficial, plagiarized, fabricated, or libelous.”
  • John also agrees with me that copy editors overuse pun headlines that are lost on those humorless search engines: “On the printed page, you have elements, such as secondary headlines, photos, display quotes, and the like, to give a clever headline context.”
  • John and I also agree on the importance of copy editors training themselves in new skills.
  • I won’t quote from John’s private advice to copy editors (he asked the rest of us to step outside for a moment, but I listened through the transom), except to say it was right on the mark.
  • On this, John and I fully agree: “if you are serious about the craft and about continuing to practice it, you will have to take more responsibility for your own career.”

That last point is good advice for every journalist. And it always was.

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Journalists have lots of tools for showcasing our work.

If you’re a college student or recent graduate looking for work or a veteran journalist out of work or looking for a better job, you need an online showcase where prospective bosses can find your best work quickly and study your work at length if they’re interested.

The job-hunter faces a dual challenge: You need to catch a prospective boss’s attention quickly and you want to hold the attention, getting him or her to keep perusing your work, wanting to read or view more. You want to provide a quick overview and you want to help the interested person browse your work at length.

We’re way past the days of deciding which half-dozen hard-copy clips to stuff into an envelope with your résumé. Unless an employer specifically asks for a hard-copy application, you should apply by email with a hyperlinked résumé. Even if the employer asks for hard-copy (and if you want to work for someone who needs hard copy), you need a URL (or a few) at the top, guiding your future boss to a place to study your work at length.

Trust me: As someone who’s received hundreds of résumés from wannabe employees, you shouldn’t send a résumé longer than one page to a prospective employer. If I can tell the story of my 40-year career in a page, you can keep yours to a page; a few years ago when I was job-hunting, I thought my long career justified multiple pages. But then I got my job and started getting résumés from people who wanted to work for me. I then resolved to keep it to a single page if I ever was job-hunting again. You have a few seconds to stand out from the others. Make your case in a single page, but use links to make that page a table of contents for the prospective boss who wants to know more.  At the top of the page, include a link — or a few links — to a place or places where they can learn about your career in depth and see your digital and social skills at work.

Even if, like me, you’re enjoying your job and feeling secure, with no interest in leaving, a strong digital profile is a good idea. Sadly, many journalists have lost their jobs with little warning. And even while you’re working, a strong online profile can help build credibility with sources and colleagues (who are Googling you, whether you know it or not).

Partly because I’m constantly checking out new tools and partly because people looking for jobs contact me frequently, I’ve dabbled with a variety of tools to showcase your résumé and your portfolio or help you tell your career story (founders invited me to try out a couple of new tools). In most cases, I have not fleshed these profiles out as fully as I would if I were looking for a job. I would need to upload more photos and clips from my pre-digital years if I wanted to use these tools to their fullest effect. (more…)

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