Job-hunting for young journalists

November 19, 2008

Job search

Advice doesn’t come any bet­ter than this — from the excel­lent Edit­or­i­al­iste:

  • Send in applic­a­tions every­where you think you’ve got a shot — then prove it to each com­pany in your applic­a­tion. It’s worth the time to tailor your applic­a­tion, even if you never hear back.
  • When you’ve sent out all that you can, send more. I can’t stress this enough. The job search becomes exhaust­ing, but you must persist.
  • Con­tact friends and ment­ors and cowork­ers not for jobs, but for advice. Very few actu­ally can and have jobs to offer you, but every­one has a wealth of exper­i­ence on how they got where they are today.
  • Tell every­one that you’re look­ing. I had sev­eral friends, not all of them close, reg­u­larly send me jobs they came across. Some I had seen, some I hadn’t, but those morn­ing e-mails were a great pick-me-up when things felt grim.
  • Take a break. The job search is nerve-wracking because it feels as though fate is clos­ing in on you as your funds for liv­ing run out. Don’t go a day without send­ing an applic­a­tion some­where, but don’t go a day without smil­ing. The whole job search is an intern­al­ized affair, like a tea kettle near­ing boil. So make sure you get out of the house and see friends. Or go to the gym. Men­tal health is import­ant at this time.
  • Take people’s advice with a grain of salt, but listen. As a journ­al­ist, this goes without say­ing. I received a ton of con­tra­dict­ory com­ments in the two posts I wrote, but what I gained most from the whole affair is that people are listen­ing (I even received a freel­ance offer). Use that momentum as inspir­a­tion to keep apply­ing places.
  • Keep your online pres­ence up-to-date. I received lots of com­ment when I changed my LinkedIn status mes­sage to “Look­ing for a job.”
  • If you get rejec­ted, politely ask why. I was rejec­ted for a pos­i­tion that I thought I had a par­tic­u­larly good shot at; turns out that with so many job lay­offs, the pub­lic­a­tion was over­whelmed with over­qual­i­fied applic­ants. So I replied and asked what I could have done bet­ter as an applic­ant. The editor was kind enough to answer in spe­cif­ics why I didn’t make the cut, and encour­aged me that I was a solid applic­ant who was just blown away by the cir­cum­stances. She also offered to take my pitches for stor­ies, which would have been import­ant had I not taken my cur­rent pos­i­tion. Remem­ber — edit­ors know what it’s like, and more often than not, they’ll relate!

And finally, when it comes to the actual job: nego­ti­ate that salary.

Once you’re settled in, don’t for­get to repay the favor to your friends by help­ing them find jobs or listings.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandon J. Mendelson November 20, 2008 at 07:14

Adrian,

This was fantastic. I plan to tweet, post about this later today.

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Lara Pawson November 20, 2008 at 10:08

I applied for the job I wanted. They said ‘Get lost’. Then they said, ‘You’re a woman, You’re nearly 30, why would we want you?’ So I researched their staff profiles. I was told I needed to go and live somewhere in Africa for at least a year and show that I meant what I said. So I did. For a year. I came back. Begged them for work experience. I was 29. I got 2 weeks unpaid work experience. Noone talked to me. I felt embarrassed. The other work experience was 21. Shameful. Humiliating. And then they gave me a week’s paid work. And then another. And then another. And 4 weeks later, I went to work in Angola as a correspondent…
Persistence is the answer. And desperation.

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ken November 21, 2008 at 05:24

I’m a much older journalist who went through periods of unemployment. I know how terrible editors have treated job applicants, especially during tough times such as these.

I wish anyone who is out of work the best of luck.

Persistence can work, but only if an editor has some interest in the applicant from the start.

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