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The Grad Beat: Hire Us!

Posted on 06 March 2010 by admin

“You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.” ~President Obama

Long Road

Photo/Alix Bryan

Graduating college during a recession can be daunting, and sixty-four percent of college seniors surveyed have anxiety about finding employment. The unemployment rate has held at 9.7 percent, while the underemployment rate has risen recently. The latter includes people with part-time employment, who need full-time positions.

A student graduating with a degree in journalism will have more anxiety about job prospects than, say, a student of veterinarian science. Since 2001, daily newspapers have lost an estimated 17 percent of their news staff, with 15,000 jobs eliminated in just 2009. Rather than throw in the towel paper and switch careers, especially if journalism is your passion, just be prepared for the rocky road ahead–with deliberate effort it can turn into a long, prosperous road.

Certain steps will likely make your job search more successful, and possibly motivate you to get ahead of the curve with the latest in social and new media. No journalism career could possibly ignore Web 2.0, so if you don’t already have an online presence, get started–as soon as you finish this! Social media will enhance your job search, and the web is also a great place to network with other creative individuals, as well as to promote your talents.

Here are some resources.

Twitter is not only a place to curate your network by following the leader’s and thinkers in your industry, it can be a powerful job searching tool.

What it takes.
Interacting. Twitter is not merely about self promotion. Only 10-20 percent of your Tweets need to be about you. The rest needs to be information that benefits you & your followers. Also tap into your local Tweeters, and get to know them, which can lead to an “in” on local events and opportunities. As with any social networking site, potential recruiters can view your account. Keep it free of curse words, and less than savory viewpoints. Use the account to show how you are immersed in your industry, and up-to-date on the latest trends. Some people suggest maintaining two accounts. One for more personal interaction with acquaintances, a second account for professional purposes.

Follow people with experience and ask them questions, most likely they will respond back. When you engage in conversation, ask intelligent questions, and contribute meaningfully to the conversation. By nature journalists are curious and chatty.

On Wednesday’s, at 5pm PT, you will find fellow journalists participating in a conversation about web journalism, and the industry in general. As with all topics and conversations, they can be found by labeled hashtags, like #wjchat. The topic this past week was “Young Journalists Breaking into the Industry,” and it brought together college students, job seekers, and professionals–from some pretty big names in the industry.

The conversation is archived, and contains valuable suggestions. One shared viewpoint among the employers present was that the old school resume doesn’t carry the same weight it once did. Journalism employers also want to see that you have your own domain, website, blog, and Twitter account–and that they have good content. As one participant said, “Demos, not Memos.” That means showcasing a variety of subjects, media, and well developed articles, not just single-source ones.

Another consensus was that who you know is how you get someone to look at a resume or profile. Networking will always be important to a journalist.

How to make it effective

Step one, get an account. Step two, make sure your profile is optimized, which means it needs to be 100 percent complete. This will require getting three recommendations–testimonies to your character and work ethic. Try to return the favor when possible. There are several features to showcase your work, like current blog posts. LinkedIn offers a deeper dimension than just the paper resume, as a recruiter can see what other people think of you, and also get a view of your Twitter feed and blog posts without having to hit several URL’s.

Don’t get overly detailed, just put an emphasis on what you’ve accomplished and use specific numbers when possible. You can attach a more detailed resume to your profile, for managers to download and share.

Join some of the numerous groups on LinkedIn. These are another way to put yourself out there, ask questions, and be recognized. You can get a scoop on trends and access to jobs posted in the forums. You can opt to receive email notifications anytime from posts in your forum.

Be selective on LinkedIn. Never forget that you will be known by the company you keep, and here quality reigns over quantity. You don’t have to accept every request to join your network.

Wired Journalists
What it is.

Wired Journalist is a Publish2 network, and they are both collaborative platforms. Publish2 provides free tools to help curate the web, aggregating useful news and information. Use it to see who is in the field and what other journalists are following and creating. Wired Journalist is a growing community with forums to host conversations about the craft. You can join a group of colleagues interested in the same topic and mutually share your expertise. Job listings and internships are posted on WJ.

Be published

United Press International is more than another social network. The editors review and publish student submissions daily, including multimedia.  It is a great outlet to not only get your work published, but a network to receive feedback and ratings, which can help you improve your craft. They work with universities around the globe.

While you are in school, use the many resources available to strengthen your craft. Produce, produce, produce! Learn new applications, but never forget the importance of writing, and critical thinking. Attend conferences. Get an internship, or two and work beyond what is expected of you. Internships can lead to future employment, and sometimes you can create a position there for yourself.

Don’t be dismayed
Keep looking. Have several cover letters and tailor each one to the specific organization. Employers say they pay more attention to the cover letter, it helps them decide whether to look inside or not. Make your job search efficient by organizing your contacts, applications, resume, portfolio samples into one document. That will help you remember who you already contacted, and be sure to follow-up. Despite all this online networking and job searching, a phone call can be the best way to follow up with someone.

Other platforms that post job openings and internships are:

Poynter Careers
Journalism Jobs
Online News Association
Media Bistro
Cub Reporters

Remember, recessions end and news is always happening. Stay ahead of the curve in order to stay on a long, prosperous road.

For more resources, read “How To Elevate Your Journalism Career,” and “Social Media Resources for Job Seekers.”

And of course, please share your resources here for others.

Be Sociable, Share!

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Maureen Linke Says:

    Hi Alix,
    I really enjoyed your entry. All of us “budding” young journalists have this anxiety. Actually I’m feeling it right now. And you’re right our field is unique – just because you get a degree and a little experience under your belt doesn’t mean you will work in journalism (unlike engineers, doctors, or accountants who are pretty much guaranteed a job). As crazy as it sounds you have to be slightly obsessive and breathe journalism on a daily basis. Staying engaged and social networking (especially Twitter as you mentioned) are both crucial. It’s easy to fall at the wayside and find yourself an a “regular” job, which I’ve seen happen to many many former classmates of mine. But like you said stay positive. It HAS to pay off at some point and people will always need news.

  2. Maureen Linke Says:

    Another good resource for those that may not have the time or ability to create a website is visualcv.com. You can post a resume but also media like videos as well.

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