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.
Elana Zak recently blogged for 10,000 words about five portfolio tools, all of which I’ve used (two of them since she blogged about them): WordPress, Cuttings.me, Pressfolios, Flavors and About.me. I’ll discuss those tools shortly, but first I’ll discuss some tools that weren’t made for portfolios (neither was WordPress) but could be used to highlight your work and your career.
I also asked my tweeps what tools they use, and I’ve embedded responses.
Pinterest. A career Pinboard can tell the story of your career in pictures (and links). On a résumé, I can note that Editor & Publisher named me Editor of the Year in 2010 (still have trouble believing that, but it sure as hell goes on the résumé). On my Pinboard, I can show the magazine cover. By adding links to pins, I can take a prospective employer to various stories and blog posts that further showcase my work. I’d add more links, and perhaps a few more photos if I were actually looking for a new job. You could do the same thing with a Flickr photo album. This is probably a secondary career profile, but your prospective editor might not be using Pinterest yet and appreciate a candidate who’s comfortable with it.
Facebook Timeline. You can count on prospective employers checking you out on Facebook, so be sure you fill out your Facebook timeline, adding photos and links from various career highlights. You can also do a Facebook Timeline movie (mine shows a mix of personal and professional, but you could edit yours to show off your career more).
Google maps. One of the most impressive résumés I’ve received was a Google map telling the story of a person’s career. After seeing that, I developed a map of my career. It needs updating. I’ve traveled enough that it doesn’t actually tell the story very well. It’s just a clump of pins. But as a secondary piece of my digital profile, it provides depth.
Update: Eileen Joyce reminded me on Twitter that she was the job candidate who sent me a Google map (alas, my boss changed directions not long after posting that job and we never filled it). With her permission, I am linking to her map (the video is no longer available). Click on the bubbles and you see her career story unfold.
— Eileen Joyce (@sadandbritish) May 31, 2012
Intersect. Intersect is a storytelling tool that uses a timeline and map to show where time and place intersect. That sounded to me like a tool for telling the story of a career, so I developed an Intersect storyline about my career, pictured below. With the ability to add photos, videos and links, it’s as effective a résumé as I have.
Timetoast. This is another storytelling timeline tool that you can use to tell the story of your career. It lets you add timespans, such as the years you worked at a place, as well as individual events, such as a story or award. You can add photos (but not videos) with events, but not with timespans. You can add text and links with both, and you can embed it (though not in a WordPress.com blog, so I just used a screen shot below; click the link above to see how the events pop up as you mouse over the timeline or how you can change the display from timeline to text). It works great as a résumé/portfolio tool, though I hope they make some improvements. Read carefully: The display is tiny when you are typing and my middle-aged eyes found it hard to read. I wish Timetoast let you choose just month and year, rather than a specific date. I was guessing occasionally on the exact dates. You also cannot choose “present” as the end date, so it will show your current job as ending the date you do the timeline (but you can update occasionally and note in the text that you are still working there). I also wish the timespans let you choose whether to display the dates first or the label. They display the date first, so a short timespan doesn’t display the label. You can also use Dipity to make a timeline.
Google+. Don’t let the lack of engagement on Google+ cause you to overlook its search value. Be sure to fill out your G+ profile, which will show up high in Google searches for your name (if you have an unusual name) or for combinations of your name and places you’ve worked (if your name is more common). The about tab on my G+ profile has pictures from my career, my employment and education history and dozens of links to my work and to pieces about me. I built my Google profile before G+, which added headings in my links that don’t quite fit, but I haven’t bothered moving the links.
LinkedIn. This is another social platform that is boring to most in terms of engagement but should not be overlooked as a showcase for your professional career. Just as prospective employers will Google you, they will look you up on LinkedIn. Be sure that you connect with people who can speak well about your work. Potential employers will check your connections to see who you know that they know. Fill out your résumé and add relevant applications (I have added WordPress, SlideShare and TripIt, so my new blog posts and presentations post on LinkedIn and my professional travels show there). Recommendations are an important part of the LinkedIn profile. Write recommendations for important people in your career and chances are good that they will return the favor. LinkedIn is not as helpful for showcasing your portfolio, but you can add some key clips under websites.
Twitter. I have written at length about Twitter’s value for journalists. One way I used it to showcase my work was to set up a separate account (for an application to Twitter three years ago that was unsuccessful) and tweet links to pieces I had written or to blogs praising me. That Twitter account became my application. I deleted the account after being flushed by Twitter, because I was not openly job-hunting, but a college senior or an unemployed journalist could develop a résumé in tweets openly. You could curate these résumé tweets from your primary account by favoriting them or using Storify.
Storify. You normally use Storify for news stories, but you also could use it to curate the story of your career. I was able to quickly assemble a career Storify during a TV show last night, pulling together links by and about me. It’s one of my longest career presentations, not the one I’d use to catch your attention, but something to browse after I do. Update: Here’s how journalist Nicholas Slayton used Storify to showcase his work.
Scribd. Upload documents such as Word docs or PDFs at Scribd. Then you can link to them from other sites, as I do here, or you can embed them in a blog post or story (as I did with my one-page résumé at the bottom of this post. That short résumé includes a link to my 12-page academic curriculum vita, which goes into the kind of detail that a university might want but an editor doesn’t. I also have uploaded stories that are no longer available online to my Scribd account, so I can link to them from other sites.
Google Docs. You can use Google Docs to create a résumé, presentation or other documents. Then you can link to that doc from any other site.
@stevebuttry made a G-Docs presentation of my resume a while back, with links and vids embedded. Combined with wordpress blog/portfolio
— Jordan Fenster (@Jordanfenster) May 27, 2012
YouTube. If video is a strength, showcase your video skills. YouTube or Vimeo are effective tools for that. You could make a video résumé that you link to from the text résumé. You can embed videos on a blog or link to them from a digital résumé (either video stories that are some of your best work or the video résumé or videos others have done about your work). Video is not a strength of mine, but on various pages I embed or link to a video in which I talked about community engagement for the National Summit on Arts Journalism or to a video story I collaborated with Michael Barnes on.
With any of these tools, you accomplish another helpful goal by using one of them to showcase your career. If a prospective employer knows that his or her organization needs to make better use of Pinterest or Storify, for instance, using one of them to showcase your career also shows that you are adept at using the tool.
Now for how I’ve used the services Elana Zak reviewed, with my impressions:
WordPress. The WordPress blog you’re reading is the best showcase of my work, home to more than 700 blog posts and pages, and I use it also to tell the story of my career. The About Steve Buttry tab at the top of the page gives a brief overview (and it’s been viewed more than 9,000 times, more than any post on the blog). There I have links where you can read more about my journalism career (viewed more than 1,000 times), my training career (more than 500 views) or my teaching career. Another tab highlights my media commentary (I need to update that). WordPress, of course, is a blogging platform. You could use it exclusively as a portfolio/résumé site, but you’ll get more attention to that material if it’s connected to a robust blog. You shouldn’t make the blog all about you, but occasional personal reflections, such as my posts about the 40th anniversary of starting my journalism career or memories from covering seven Iowa caucuses, can be helpful links to include in sites that showcase your career. I encourage you to do two things with your WordPress blog that I don’t do: Get your own name as a .com URL (a real estate agent beat me to stevebuttry.com) and use the paid version of WordPress. I built an audience on this free WordPress.com blog, and I’m comfortable staying here, but you can use more tools, including embeds, in a paid version.
@stevebuttry I use wordpress and love its flexibility.
— Dustin Blanchard (@dblanchard) May 27, 2012
About.me. This is the web version of the one-page-résumé. It’s primarily a photo of you (I like the Bryce Canyon photo that used to top this blog) with a thumbnail bio and links to your blog, social media and any other links you want to add. Frankly, I can’t recall anyone contacting me through my About.me page, and it’s been up more than a year. It’s easy to do and I encourage having one, but it’s not my most valuable showcase.
Clippings.me. This started in the United Kingdom as Cuttings.me, but founder Nicholas Holmes learned that American journalists don’t use the term “cuttings” to refer to their story files. Clippings.me is a place to organize and display your best stories. It’s in beta. I hope Nicholas makes it easier to edit how the photo and bio type display at the top (you can see below that I should move the type and make the photo deeper). I don’t like my top display, but fixing it isn’t easy. I like the display of stories, which pulls in photo or video thumbnails if they’re available, but displays the headline, source and date effectively in a piece has no art. I wish you could choose where to insert new items. They go in at the top and then you can drag them where you want them.
Update: Catharin Shepard gave Clippings a try after reading this post:
— Catharin Shepard (@CatharinShepard) May 31, 2012
Pressfolios. Co-founder Marc Samson asked me to test this new portfolio tool. This is probably an effective portfolio tool for journalists with strong visual content. Rightly or wrongly, some of my best blog posts don’t include art, so they don’t display well on Pressfolios (or perhaps I haven’t discovered the option for a different display). A nice feature is that you can upload files directly. LaToya Peterson gave Pressfolios a more detailed test drive. A helpful how-to blog post guides you through setting up your Pressfolios.
Update: Note Samson’s comment below about plans for an update addressing these issues.
Update: I like how Lexy Cruz uses Pressfolios to showcase her work and her resume.
Flavors.me. My friend Elaine Clisham is a fan of Flavors. She uses the paid version ($20/year) and says she found it to be a good investment. Using the free version, I found that it was trying to upsell me to the paid version at every turn. I’m willing to pay extra for a tool that demonstrates its value to me (I paid for the pro versions of Flickr and TripIt). But Flavors didn’t show me enough to make me want to pay. For someone with more design flair than me, it looks like it gives you lots of flexibility in choosing formats, fonts, etc. Since I’m not much of a designer, this kind of says my flavor is vanilla.
One tool I didn’t develop a profile on:
@stevebuttry resumup is nifty.
— Alex J. Martin (@amartinmedia) May 27, 2012
ResumUp is pretty much for job-hunters and I’m not looking, so I didn’t develop anything there. It promises a timeline based on your Facebook or LinkedIn profiles. I went far enough to sync it with my Facebook account and was annoyed that it published images to my Facebook wall. When I authorized the app, I thought I’d get a chance to approve any posts before they went up.
Update suggested by Elaine Clisham: I should have mentioned Tumblr, a blogging tool I haven’t used much, but especially if you are a visual journalist, Tumblr is a good tool for showcasing your work and your interactive ability.
@stevebuttry Tumblr didn’t make the list? Especially for photojournalists, would have thought that was a natural.
— Elaine Clisham (@eclisham) May 30, 2012
What are some tools you’ve used to showcase your work? You’ve probably used some of these tools better than the hastily-produced examples I show here. Please feel welcome to share links to your résumé/portfolio sites in the comments here.
I encourage using a variety of tools. The portfolio tools are designed for the job, so I would definitely recommend using the one that feels best-suited for you. But I’d also use a few of the tools you might be using in your next job, so that your résumé/portfolio showcases your ability to use the tools to tell a story. If you’re looking for your first or next journalism job, your most important story right now is the story of your career.
Update: Now I feel embarrassed. When I crowdsourced this, asking people for tips, my colleague, Ivan Lajara, suggested Vizualize.me, saying it could turn your LinkedIn profile into a cool timeline. I misread his tweet, spelled it without the first z and went to a redirect to a paid résumé service. I figured it had changed since Ivan used it and didn’t follow up with him immediately (it was the weekend), then forgot about it before posting. But Ivan has tweeted me links to Vizualize.me, Timeline JS and the new hive. All three look cool, and I will definitely try out Vizualize.me (with two z’s). Must remind myself to always check for deliberate URL misspellings.
Other links to help career-minded journalists
I’ve blogged frequently with advice for journalists on hunting for a job or career development: