Follow this advice for a resume that gets read—and gets you interviews.
1. Make it easy to read.
Most editors don’t have time to decipher an illegible, disorganized resume, so keep yours neat. Don’t use colored ink, more than two fonts (and avoid crazy ones!), or big font sizes (your name can be slightly larger, but making it HUGE looks juvenile). Italicize all publication titles and spell out the months in your dates of employment, instead of using numbers. “February 1999-present” and “Feb ’99 to present” are both fine, but be consistent throughout.
2. Delete unnecessary stats.
Sure, grades matter in college, and a great GPA could indicate that you’re a hard worker, but they don’t mean too much to editors. Listing your GPA plus tons of honors such as every time you made the Dean’s List may actually do you a disservice: It could come off as overcompensating for being unqualified for a position.
3. Keep your resume to one page.
You’re trying to be an editor, so show that you can edit out less important info! Generally, junior-level candidates don’t have the experience necessary to warrant a 2-pager, anyway. To fit everything, play with your margins and font size, as long as it’s still readable, and leave off references because they take up too much room. But don’t forget to give your references a heads up before you give out their contact info to editors.
4. Give details where it counts.
Tailor your résumé to each position you apply for, almost to the extent you would in a cover letter. Leave out your summer job at the Orange Julius, and don’t wax poetic about you’re a cappella group’s repertoire, but elaborate on your magazine projects. If you researched a story for a major publication, say “Interviewed organic clothing makers for the green issue.” And be specific about the amount of work you did: “Fact-checked at least 20 stories per issue.”
5. But if there’s space, let your personality shine.
Editors receive résumés from numerous qualified applicants, but meeting basic requirements isn’t always enough. In an “Activities” section, include extracurriculars and hobbies unique to you that show you’re well-rounded (you play softball, you’re in an editorial organization, or, if just out of college, you were in a sorority or fraternity). Make sure they’re appropriate and keep descriptions short so there’s still enough to ask you about in the interview!
6. Skip the profile/objective statement.
This is an old career services requirement that is outdated. If you’re sending your résumé to an editor she knows you’re interested in a job at her magazine; you don’t need to say so in your resume. Don’t waste the space. Besides, it just sounds stiff and business-y, not very magaziney at all. Be specific about the position/responsibilities that interest you in your cover letter, instead.
7. List all relevant information first.
When writing up descriptions of past jobs you’ve held, list experience directly related to the position you’re applying for first, even if it wasn’t the biggest part of that specific job. Also, make sure to list your titles (if you’ve had more than one at the same place) with your most recent at the top, and if, during an internship, you filled in as an editorial assistant, list it before your other duties because it’s eye-catching.
8. Talk the talk.
Use terms editors use, such as “wrote,” “edited,” “proofread,” or “fact-checked” in descriptions of your jobs. Include skills editors recognize, such as proficiency in Lexis-Nexis, InDesign, and Quark/QPS. List Photoshop and/or Illustrator if you’re applying to an art position. But don’t list programs/skills you better know/have like Microsoft Word, e-mail programs, or faxing.
9. Describe small publications you worked for.
You know what Ed2010 is (your secret weapon!), but some editors don’t, and people who don’t work in magazines definitely don’t. Say what Ed is if you’re listing that you belonged to your school’s Ed on Campus chapter. The same goes for local or school publications. Explain what subject or location the publication covered and any noteworthy awards it’s won. You may also want to mention if it’s a tough publication to break into.
10. List your education last.
Editors say this tip is one of the hardest for applicants to follow. Going to a prestigious school is fantastic, but it means almost diddly if you don’t have magazine experience. Put it close to last (after experience, but before activities) unless you haven’t graduated yet or are only a few months out of school.