In an editorial offering future reporters advice on how to get into the industry, Derby Telegraph editor Neil White said he would choose a candidate with a good CV over one with a first class honours degree “every time”.
In the piece for the Telegraph, Neil warned high-quality media jobs were “not easy to come by” and expressed his surprise at how many job applicants hadn’t done anything during their time at university to “stand out from the crowd”.
Neil, pictured left, wrote of how he began his career in the regional press after interviewing the then Coventry Telegraph editor Keith Whetstone, while volunteering on hospital radio as a teenager.
After asking Keith if there was any part-time work available, he was paid £1.50 to cover park football matches for its Saturday sports paper.
Keith later moved to the Birmingham Post & Mail, where he employed Neil as a trainee journalist after he had finished university.
Wrote Neil: “Although the employment landscape has changed and our industry has been through a technological revolution, the importance of work experience and a sparkling CV is unchanged.
“I was asked, when speaking to students recently, whether I would employ a student with a first class honours degree with nothing on their CV or one who had a lower second-class degree with an impressive CV.
“I said I would go for the latter every time.
“I have recruited hundreds of young people over the last 20 years and those who have already participated in a work environment have always been better equipped.
“This is reflected in the fact that of the last ten I have employed at the Derby Telegraph, nine of them had already impressed during stints at the paper.”
He added: “I am astonished at how many potential applicants have undertaken no work experience during their studies.
“They haven’t worked out that they need to stand out from the crowd.”