Friday, February 6, 2009

Job-hunting for young journalists

Andrew Nusca from Editorialiste has compiled a compelling list of tips for young journalists searching for work.

And it may not be nearly as lousy a job climate as one may conclude from reading about bankruptcies, layoffs and wage freezes.

"The number of full-timers employed by U.S. news-media organizations today has increased by almost 70% compared with 1971, according to The American Journalist in the 21st Century," said Jack Shafer in Slate a couple of years ago. "The book doesn't even include in its census the new jobs in online newsrooms or at the business-wire upstart Bloomberg News."

Here are 10 fine suggestions:
*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.