Lisa Parker can still feel her old dread when she remembers listening to career coaches chattering about résumés inside the “transition assistance room” of an Army base in 2006.
The class was supposed to help the former first sergeant move into civilian life after a 21-year, full-time career in aviation for the Florida Army National Guard. But Parker, now 49, ultimately found her way from what her instructors didn’t say.
Inspired to become a better job counselor, Parker became a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and a career coach. Four years later, she can relate to the anxiety of laid-off journalists and new reporters seeking jobs.
Parker and two other career experts recently took time to offer reporters career advice, and there are many who need it in the digital age.
America’s newspapers alone have eliminated roughly one in three newsroom positions since 2001, according to the Pew Research Center.
For those who want to stand out in a crowded field with fewer journalism jobs and more unemployed reporters, the experts said:
“As a journalist, virtual presence is everything,” said Parker, author of the e-book “Branding Your Business Name via Internet Marketing.” “Every time you write an article, you need to post it. Everyone can create a LinkedIn profile, but if you have nothing beyond that, what does that do for you?”
Parker recommends blogging, writing stories for e-magazines and spreading clips across the Web with isnare.com, an article directory and distribution service.
SPREAD YOUR WORK
A personal website featuring strong clips — including freelance assignments — and a résumé are a must. Parker pushes job seekers to appear atop lists of search engine results.
Reporters also can attract attention and “create a better brand and a consistent message” by posting clips on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, said Barbara Safani, author of “Happy About My Resume: 50 Tips for Building a Better Document to Secure a Brighter Future.”
START YOUR OWN BUSINESS
Parker thinks one of the best ways for job seekers to appear at the top of Google results pages is to start a company and issue press releases via free websites such as 1888pressrelease.com and 24-7pressrelease.com.
MAINTAIN YOUR IMAGE
Journalists should try to set themselves apart with digital résumés featuring audio and visual components. But easily avoidable typos or questionable behavior can make reporters stand out for the wrong reasons, said Colleen Eddy, a career columnist for The Poynter Institute.
“Always be professional” on the Internet, Eddy added. “You may have a niece or nephew that you played baseball with, but there’s a way to mention it online without talking about how many beers you drank.”
IT’S STILL ABOUT WHO YOU KNOW
Even in the digital age, the career experts said most people land jobs via connections.
“What the Internet allows you to do is extend your reach further and build your network faster,” said Safani, who also owns Career Solvers, a Manhattan-based job search firm. “It can accelerate the networking process and get you closer to face-to-face relationships.”
Or, as Eddy puts it, “going online is an avenue not an end.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Lisa Parker’s rank as “staff sergeant.” It has been corrected above.
Daniel Axelrod was a full-time newspaper reporter for five years before moving into public relations in 2009. He is president of the SPJ Keystone Pro chapter in Pennsylvania and vice chairman of the SPJ Digital Media Committee.