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Will your next journalism job application be via LinkedIn’s new button?

LinkedIn has launched an ‘apply with LinkedIn’ button allowing companies to recruit using the social network.

Job seekers can then use the button to submit an application and are able to see other employees of the firm and make contact with them.

Prospective employers will be able to see your connections so this new functionality is another reason to get your LinkedIn profile in order and gather a good quality, rather than quantity, of contacts.

There are tips on how journalists can best use LinkedIn in this podcast, which includes advice for news organisations setting up profile pages.

The LinkedIn Blog states:

We’ve put an incredible amount of effort to rethink the job application process from end-to-end to make it a one-click submit for any professional. The first step was simple: put the functionality everywhere our members need it. That means packaging it as a simple button that you can recognise anywhere across the web. We’ve made this simple enough to implement so both  companies and developers can easily include it on their corporate websites.

Here is the code for adding the ‘apply with LinkedIn’ button.

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Comment: Without traineeships going to trainees, how can we get experience?

August 25th, 2009 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Comment, Freelance, Jobs, Training

Ross Davies is a freelance journalist. His work includes bar and pub reviews for viewbirmingham.co.uk and album/gig reviews for thedetour.co.uk, a website dedicated to current music, fashion and art.

These are difficult times for young ,newly-qualified journalists looking for that first break.

In the UK, armed with a degree and preliminary NCTJ [National Council for the Training of Journalists] qualification, we have all pitched our ideas and sent expertly doctored CVs to a seemingly ever-expanding abyss that engulfs the modern day aspiring hack. Read the forums on sites such as this and you will find disgruntled tales of little opportunity, encouragement or reward – a mandatory concession that we have to make or is there a loophole?

Journalism has always been a notoriously tough profession to crack with high competition for trainee posts. We have all tried to garner as much knowledge as possible on work experience placements or articles for the university rag but there comes a time when your CV, rich with such flirtations, feels ready to be sent in application for that first role.

Here comes the problem – it doesn’t seem to be enough. You can picture the scene: you see a job advertisement for a trainee reporter so you scroll down to peruse the job description and specifications which are along the lines of ‘For first jobber with degree and preferably NCTJ trained’. You rub your hands with glee and get to work on a well-crafted covering letter demonstrating your dovetail perfection for the role. You then click send and wait for the good news.

Well, okay, job applications never follow such formulated paths, but you would think that if you are able to tick every box with regard to candidate specifications that you would stand a decent chance of at least gaining an interview. Wrong.

The global recession does not warrant any more attention than it has already received and of course is an entirely credible reason for job shortages and restricted opportunities, but young hacks must surely nod their heads in frustrated agreement that the familiar reply and opening gambit of ‘We are sorry to inform you but due to the current market..’ is predictable and disheartening. Perhaps worse is the further rationalization that candidates with prior journalistic experience take precedence – rendering the ‘first jobber’ job description disingenuous.

It seems to be that the prospective trainee journalist finds himself in the tricky quandary of being required to run before he can walk. It is accepted that times are tough, but is there much point in advertising trainee jobs if there is little intention of actually allocating them to trainees? Where are we supposed to gain our phantom years of experience if every role in itself requires experience? An even bigger puzzle – what constitutes as experience?

The answer is usually a burgeoning portfolio of articles that signify not only a writer’s depth and style, but also a dedication to journalism as most work experience is unpaid. The question of unpaid work is also a matter for contention creating a dichotomy between budding journalists that consider the byline as sufficient payment in itself and others that feel that any content provided should be financially rewarded, as it is effectively what keeps small magazines and websites in business.

I, like many others, have provided unpaid freelance articles on a number of occasions and in retrospect, have mixed feelings on the subject.

Yes, the leather wallet containing my published work has grown, but when it comes to a job application, is my piece for Poultry World, Heating and Ventilation News going to be enough? Many websites I have written for have long since vanished taking with them a few fading bylines, but still I feel it right to list them on my CV. Why? To demonstrate experience.

So, realising that your journalism career might take a little longer to ignite than expected, you are forced to review your situation whilst possibly taking on some menial job to pay the bills.

The next avenue could well be applying for an internship or work experience placement, again unpaid, at an eminent and respected magazine or newspaper that truly will look good on the CV. Unsurprisingly, there is much competition, but if successful it is worth the wait.

I completed a two-week stint at Record Collector magazine in November 2008 at its offices in West Ealing and came away from the experience with a great sense of fulfillment, knowledge and most importantly, a resolute belief that I truly wanted to be a journalist.

But what now? How many more internships do I have to complete before I have the sufficient experience that editors are looking for? How long will I have to go unpaid for the articles I provide? When will the markets pick up again?

Whatever the answers are, it is undeniable that the journalists of tomorrow are going to need a lot of patience… and luck.

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Trials of a redundant journalist: 11 days teach me that I sound like a fat layabout on the phone and I can’t act

June 5th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Freelance, Journalism

A round-up of posts from this week’s activity. Redundant Journalist, resident FleetStreetBlues blogger, gets her first rejection letter, learns that she sounds ‘larger’ on the phone, and that she’s a terrible actress…

DAY FIVE: I have a voice like a fat layabout
I’ve been learning new things about myself. My visit to the recruitment agency opened my eyes in more ways than one.

Other than my nimble keyboard fingers, I also discovered that I sound like a fat layabout on the phone.

The recruitment consultant didn’t say so in so many words, but my other half has, cruelly, confirmed it.

Before we met, I’d spoken to the consultant over the phone a number of times over the previous week, and when we finally met in person, she revealed that I wasn’t what she imagined I’d look like, going by my voice.

‘What did you think I looked like?’ I asked, slightly perplexed.

‘Well, slightly taller and larger,’ she began, trying to look diplomatic, and my jaw dropped. It was a first for me, being neither tall nor fat.

She said it might have something to do with my laid-back voice, and suggested I try smiling when on the phone to potential recruiters.

Just a few months ago, feedback I received from one of the interviews I went for also described me as a ‘cool customer’. I wasn’t really sure what this meant, but I wonder if the two are related.

So, despite being a naturally dry, cynical and rather lugubrious character, I’ve been trying to smile and act happy while on the phone to people. I’ll have to let you know how I get on with that one.

DAY SIX: A 20 page job application
People are currently digging up the road directly outside my front door. The drilling is doing my head in and the only thing that rivals it is a 20-page job application I filled in recently.

Yes that’s right, 20 pages – PLUS covering letter! And to top it off, it’s not even for a journalism job.

I nearly lost the will to live whilst doing it – these sample questions will explain why.

Despite spelling out all my duties in all my past employment, there were 12 questions to answer, and you had to give three examples of when you’d demonstrated each of the 12 requirements.

Go on, you try finding three un-inane examples to illustrate these….

1. You must be educated to degree level.

2. You have a good level of spoken and written English.

You may also have lost the will to live just reading that. But the job was well-paid and easy – what more could you ask for in an interim job?

I also have to admit that what these application forms do give you a chance to do is to be…well, creative is one word. Someone else might use something ruder. And what I’ve discovered is quite a few of the more old-fashioned application forms have very similar questions, which means a lot of simple copying and pasting.

So, I admit, grudgingly mind you, that it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

DAY SEVEN: The dreadfully paid non-journalism job gets back to me first

Late last week, I went to register in person with a media recruitment agency that put me forward for a job and says the employer is keen to interview me next week. Not a dream job, and will be really tough too, but it’s a journalism job that could take me onto the newswires, so I can’t knock it. And it’s not like the offers are flooding in at present.

Then, home again, I fired off three job applications. One journalism, one half-journalism and one completely-not-journalism.

And guess which replied first? Of course it’s the completely-not-journalism one, and I’ve got an interview for it. To top it off it pays dreadfully, but I guess I’ve reached that stage where I have to just admit it – I urgently need some income, any income now, rather than nothing. Moreover, while I’m stupidly over-qualified for it, I’m also over-qualified for an Asda job, which is an alternative I may have yet to consider, and this other job is at least better than that. I hope.

Otherwise, it was completely unheard of for me to get a response so quickly. It was literally a matter of hours.

Actually that may help you job hunters out there. I asked the recruitment agency what the market is like at the moment, other than just being very quiet. Apparently employers are taking far longer to make decisions now, safe in the knowledge that they’ll get hundreds of applicants so they just sit and wait for a good one to come along. I had figured as much. They also told me that they’re advising everyone to just take the first job offer they get, being so few and far between these days.

I certainly am already in that mindset – so if any of you are sitting on a job offer, just take it – and count your lucky stars.

DAY EIGHT: My first Actual Rejection
Received my first actual rejection today, not including the ones where I’ve not heard anything at all, and the first one for a job I really would have liked.

It wasn’t a journalist job. But if I had never gone into journalism, it would have been my dream job, and I had perfect qualifications for it. At least they did let me know I guess. Their reason was that someone else had more suitable qualifications, though.

Very depressing.

In other news, applied for another journalism job today. I’ve got my covering letter to the stage where I only have to change a few words to adapt it to each job, which makes things so much easier.

And tonight, although I really can’t be bothered, am going to do some networking, virtually gate-crashing a PR company’s drinks night with one of my old employers. I know they don’t have any vacancies at the moment but I might as well remind them that I’m available face-to-face.

DAY NINE: Schmoozing leads to good advice
I’m glad I went to the networking drinks last night – caught up with old friends and all their latest gossip, chatted to some really nice PR people and got the heads up on three potential jobs.

It is definitely good to remind people in person that a) you exist and b) you’re ready and available, and a friend at the event also gave me some excellent advice.

Like most people probably, I’ve been guilty of sitting here, sending off applications and just assuming that they’ve been unsuccessful because I’ve not heard anything. However, the advice I received and have already taken up is that you should always follow up your applications with a phone call to just let them know that you’re still interested in the job.

So I called a few of the people up this morning to ask them to check if they’d received my CV. One of them didn’t have any record and therefore I was asked to re-send it (that was a near miss); one checked their email as I was on the phone, therefore actively re-looking at my name and hopefully making a positive connection with my keen phone call; and another very kindly emailed me to confirm that they had my application and gave me an indication of when I could expect to hear from them.

All in all, I hope it won’t be wasted effort and that it works, but in the last case, it was particularly helpful to receive the extra information about the time-scale – something I wouldn’t have got just sat here on my bum staring at the computer, so go on, pick up that phone!

DAY TEN: I cannot lie and I am a bad actress
Had an interview at recruitment agency for a non-journalism job the other day that really tested my ability to lie.

I’m not a good liar and a terrible actress, and unfortunately it’s pretty clear that I still want to be a journalist.

This job I was going for required me to declare that I wanted to change my career entirely, even though it had billed itself as a contract job. Being completely unprepared for this (I thought it was just going to be for the six months it stated) I was therefore too honest when asked the question ‘where do see yourself in five years’ time?’

To some extent, you have to feign enthusiasm and interest for certain journalism jobs, especially if they are trade magazines in industries you know very little about, but deep down, at least you are not lying about wanting to be a journalist.

So, at least I know that if I don’t get this job, it will be because I didn’t lie well enough, rather than because I’m not capable. (I hope.)

A useful lesson to learn for the next non-journalism job interview I’ve got coming up next week, methinks…

DAY 11: I am told I am ‘bright’ but it’s a no
I had an interview for a journalism job the other day. It was going great – I passed their writing and numeracy test, I was confident and personable and seemed to get on with the interviewers.

But then the next day I phoned the recruitment agency to give them my feedback, saying how much I really liked and wanted the job. They immediately went to their client telling them so but then yes, you guessed it: ‘Sorry, it’s a no.’ Reasons given: although they liked me and said I was ‘bright’, they thought I was too ambitious and would be using them as a stepping stone and, crucially, they preferred someone else.

At least I only had a day of wondering, but it was pretty crushing. It really is useless bothering to do your best at these things when all it comes down to is they just see someone else they, for one reason or another, prefer.

I’m trying not to keep count of the number of days I’ve been job hunting now as that will depress me even more, but anyone out there with any tips on how to keep spirits up while job hunting?

A blog series which will run until our guest blogger, The FleetStreetBlues Redundant Journalist finds a job or gets too busy to blog. Follow the Trials of a Redundant Journalist series, by the Redundant Journalist, here. She is also posting her updates on FleetStreetBlues.

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Trials of a redundant journalist: Don’t forget the contacts

Don’t forget the contacts… and hopefully they won’t forget you.

As soon as I knew I was jobless, I started to let friends, family and acquaintances know of my new situation – and my availability to do anything.

But I didn’t stop there. I’ve always been good at keeping in touch with people, usually a couple of people at least from every place I’ve worked/done work experience, and even if there aren’t any job offers immediately available, the moral support I’ve received has been great. Believe me, you need it to keep you going through the job applications.

However, what I also recommend is going through your work contacts book. While I never met with anyone in my contacts book on a social level, there were some people I could think of immediately with whom I had good working relationships and who I knew would not only be sympathetic to my situation, but were also well-connected.

Again, they won’t necessarily hand me jobs on a plate, but the important thing is they will have dealt with me on a professional level and know of my work enough be able to recommend me where possible.

I can’t divulge too much about how this is going yet – but what I can say is that there’s been enough activity on this front to make it worthwhile, and I highly recommend it. After all, in the incestuous world of journalism, you never know when you might cross paths with your contacts again.

A new blog series which will run until our new guest blogger, The FleetStreetBlues Redundant Journalist finds a job or gets too busy to blog. Follow the Trials of a Redundant Journalist series, by the Redundant Journalist, here. She is also posting her updates on FleetStreetBlues.

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Is the media hiring, thriving or dying? All three @Twitter

February 11th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs

Flagged up by Deborah Potter on her Advancing the Story blog, @themediaishirin’ – a new Twitter channel for 140 character CVs, job applications and offers of work.

It’s from the same group behind @themediaisdying – only the baby looks a lot happier in the profile pic.

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