At the time this post goes up – I’ll be on a plane, bound for a job interview.
I’m writing this the night before (obviously) and am nervous to say the least.
It’s all pretty nerve-wracking and sort of one of those moments where I get to find out how much all of my hard work, grafting and the countless amount of money I’ve poured into education and financing internships has paid off.
My first post for Hacks, well back in September, touched on the fact that being unemployed and looking for a job, especially in the journalism industry, is like a full time job itself.
You could write a bible about prepping for job interviews and it would still not be enough. A lot goes into getting ready for an interview. There’s the obvious prep work, but there is also making sure you’re comfortable, confident and at ease .
- Don’t read the paper or the publication the night before, or even the week before. Whatever publication you’re applying for, start reading it the day you apply – if you weren’t already reading.
- Buy the actual product if possible. Line it with sticky notes and highlight the hell out of it. Make lists and think of stories. Read stories about those stories – track it online, read the comments and any other opinion based on the stories.
- If the job is reporting a beat, know everything you possibly can about that beat. Know the movers and shakers, the budgets and everything else there is possibly to know. Dig through archives and know what the coverage has been like. Know if you’re replacing someone, or if it’s an entirely new position.
- Remember, you’re the one being interviewed. Though your head might be jammed with ideas and things you want to say, know when it’s your turn to talk. Have questions ready as well.
But before any of that – FOLLOW UP. Whatever you do, and whatever the job, I cannot stress that enough. Before the interview, after the interview, when you first apply, when you do something new and of note, etc, etc.
Take this interview for example, I wouldn’t even be going if not for the follow up.
I sent in my clips, resume and cover letter. I called the next day to introduce myself and to make sure my application was received.
Thank God I did call, because my application somehow ended up in the spam box.
It’s a crowded market out there and sometimes you’re applying for jobs with hundreds of other applicants. There are a lot of anonymous applicants. Don’t be one of them.
A few weeks ago I applied for a part-time online job at my local city paper. I followed up a week later to do the same – introduce myself and make sure everything was received. I talked to the person reviewing the applications and found that after two days the job posting was taken down because of the sheer amount of applications.
Two hundred plus for a part-time job with no benefits.
The next day I got an extremely kind email from the editor saying:
- “While you have many outstanding attributes and experiences, we are probably looking for someone with a little more of a sports background. I would, however, like to forward the resume to our news desk — if that’s OK with you — to see if they have any potential openings.
- I think that would be a much better match to your experience.”
One door shut, but another opens. Odds are that wouldn’t have happened without following up.
When I said that looking for a job is like a full-time job – I didn’t mean it because you’d sit around spraying out applications left and right every day, losing track of what is what.
We’re young and idealistic – this is our chance to do whatever we want with the rest of our lives and there is room to be picky, to be tactical, honest and ruthless with our job applications.
Think of your job application, from submission to interview, as a piece of journalism. It requires time, research, hard work, honesty, persistence and sometimes the need to pour silly amounts of time into it.
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look