This is the first post in a series from an anonymous UK-based journalist recently made redundant. To follow the series, you can subscribe to this feed.
You can also read posts by our previous ‘Redundant Journalist’ blogger at this link.
As every hack out there knows, journalism is one of the toughest professions to crack. It’s up there with becoming the Pope, a pilot or a pop star. (I’m being glib – winning X Factor would be far easier.) But seriously, it’s a gruelling process getting a job in journalism.
Twenty-three days and four hours ago I was made redundant from a hard-won job I dearly loved as staff writer on a consumer magazine. The big ‘R’ meant the magazine lost its funding and we were all out on our ears in a matter of weeks.
To make matters worse, it was my first staff job following a backbreaking four months of NCTJ training. I guess it was a wake up call to the harsh reality of the industry.
There was a tortuous period of uncertainty when we thought we had a buyer for the magazine, but I received my P45 last week, and nothing says it’s over like a note from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
As for a redundancy package… well, let’s just say I won’t be lunching at The Wolseley.
Think you’re not entitled to any money? You are. The government provides a certain amount of statutory redundancy pay, although it’s not readily advertised. I’d advise checking out this government website if your employer has also become insolvent.
It’s largely jargon-free and tells you who to contact to recover any outstanding wages and holiday pay, etc. It’s worth knowing that you are entitled to some sort of payout even if you haven’t been continuously employed by the company for two or more years.
Don’t expect miracles overnight – I’m still waiting for my forms from the insolvency practitioner, but I’ll let you know how I get on later in this blog series.
It’s daunting to think about going through the whole rigmarole of applying for jobs again. But while the process of sending off round after round of CVs is utterly depressing, it’s not half as depressing as the prospect of there being no jobs to apply for at all.
According to a story in Press Gazette published in May, the amount of journalists claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance from April 2008 to April 2009 leapt from 770 to 1,880. That’s an increase of almost 150 per cent in one year and only takes into account those on benefits.
There simply aren’t enough jobs to go round and with print media in freefall (thelondonpaper’s on its way out and the Observer’s future is under consideration) the outlook for us jobless journalists is far from rosy.
But if there is one thing I have learned as a journo, you must never ever give up, and with that in mind I’ve decided to use this period of redundancy as an opportunity to reflect on and improve my career.
This blog series will chart my search for a staff job – the applications, the CVs and covering letters, the calling on contacts, the rejections, the interviews and the various attempts to get my foot back in the door.
By sharing tips and anecdotes hopefully this blog will provide support for other unemployed journalists. And if by the end of the series I don’t have a job, at least I’ll know I went down writing.