Decoding lingo in journalism job ads (the recent graduate edition)

Any college student who is serious about getting a journalism job should have already visited the most popular job sites like – or – just to name a few.

For students graduating soon or recent graduates, there are a few key words or phrases in the job ads that you should look for. Those phrases include: “entry level,” “immediate opening,” and “recent graduates encouraged.” So let’s break down what those phrases mean.

ENTRY LEVEL: If a job ad describes the opening as entry level, that means the person taking this job is likely going to be at the bottom rung of the newsroom’s hierarchy. It also means that this position likely won’t pay a lot in salary. But it’s one of the best types of jobs that recent graduates can vie for. An entry level position is a place where a recent graduate can learn, make mistakes, get further guidance from professionals, then move onto bigger and better. Below is an example. Notice the salary range.

IMMEDIATE OPENING: Oftentimes, this phrase is company code for “someone who was holding this job resigned abruptly and we really need someone to fill this spot like yesterday.” And for the recent graduate, this is one of the best phrases you can see in an ad. Immediate opening means, if you’re a good candidate, the recruiter will likely call you back soon. It also means you have to potentially be ready to move to a new place quickly. So, if you’re desperate to get started somewhere, look for this phrase.

RECENT GRADUATES ENCOURAGED: The rough translation for this phrase is “we’re particularly interested in someone who has raw or natural talent in journalism and someone who is a quick learner that we can mold into a solid professional.” So, for the recent graduate, this is another very enticing job ad phrase. The managers at this particularly newsroom are saying, in so many words, “we’re willing to work closely with you and let you make a few mistakes early on.”

Finding an ad with one or more of these phrases heightens your chance at earning the job, but it doesn’t guarantee that you’re their next hire. Ultimately, you still must have a good body of work, a polished resume, a good list of references, nail the phone/in-person interview and show that you have the personality that fits well with the newsroom’s culture.