Tag Archives: job hunting

Can journalism students blog their way into a job?

Having a job in mainstream media before the age of 25 is fanciful thinking for many aspiring journalists, but having a blog could help turn those dreams into a reality.

Just ask young journalists Josh Halliday of the Guardian, Dave Lee of the BBC and Conrad Quilty-Harper of the Telegraph, all of whom credit their blogs as being fundamental to their success.

Speaking at an event at City University London last night, Halliday, a technology and media reporter and Sunderland University graduate, said: “The most important thing I did at university, including my degree, was to blog and get online. That’s what got me the job.”

Lee, who also started blogging while doing his undergraduate degree at Lincoln University, echoed Halliday saying: “I credit everything I’ve got to my blog at university.

“There is no possible way that I would have been able to go into the BBC newsroom on the basis of my degree, or the basis of my freelance cuttings or the basis of my student newspaper. ”

While Quilty-Harper, a data mapping journalist, said having a good blog and presence on Twitter, which he could readily show to potential employers, was what got him his job after he finished his postgraduate degree at City University London.

The three online trailblazers yesterday revealed their experiences of how to “blog your way into a job”:

Build a brand

Using your blog to promote yourself correctly is essential. Halliday stressed the importance of “being yourself” and marketing yourself in a way that is “likable”. While Lee highlighted that you never know what part of your branding will be the most fruitful, so you must do it all.

Conversing, linking and networking
Linked to the above is the idea that you must be in active dialogue with as many people as possible to build a dedicated following. Part of this involves linking to people who are blogging about similar topics to you, to create a mutually beneficial relationship. However, do not forget that, as Halliday highlighted, it’s a “two-way street”. So don’t just push yourself, relationships – especially ones with journalists already in the industry – should develop organically. Use the net’s networks  appropriately.

Be patient

You won’t go from 20 to 5,000 twitter followers overnight. Cultivating a twitter following and developing a community takes time, so don’t get too caught up on this. Make content the driving force behind your website or blog and the community will come.

Find a niche
With an increasing amount of people entering the blogosphere standing out is harder than ever before, but what could really help is finding a topic that nobody else or very few people are writing about. Lee blogged about his experiences of being a student in the developing online media using himself as a “case study”; Halliday created a hyperlocal blog about Sunderland; and Quilty-Harper had a blog about gadgets and technology. All three were unanimously behind blogs having a niche, as Halliday highlighted “journalists are paid to cover a single beat, so just do that”.

Increasing traffic to your site is one of the most difficult elements of blogging, but all three panellists deplored the idea of buying advertising space to this end declaring it a waste of money. Instead they advocated networking and conversing with the right people as the means by which to increase your popularity.

Rajvir Rai is a postgraduate journalism student at City University London. He can found on Twitter @R_Rai.

#tomwantsajob – Tom gets a job

Last month Journalism.co.uk shared the story of Australian journalism student Tom Cowie, who had created a social media campaign to boost and document his search for that elusive first job in the industry.

He told Journalism.co.uk:

In the past few years, journalism students have been told that now they need a published portfolio to get noticed, which is often built through unpaid work. I think we have gone past that now. The industry is becoming increasingly reliant on social media and students need to be able to boast a personal brand, whether that be through Twitter, Facebook or blogging. Journalists need to be able to market and promote their own work. While this philosophy may seem like it has foundations in PR, I don’t think today’s journalism students have a choice if they want to get employed. The onus is on us to build audiences and make sure the right people are reading.

Well, 38 days after starting his site, hashtag and search, he’s landed a job as a junior reporter with Australian news and commentary site Crikey. Congratulations Tom.

The Jobless Journalist: Week five – Temporarily re-employed

This is the fifth post in a series from an anonymous UK-based journalist recently made redundant. To follow the series, you can subscribe to this feed.

Six weeks after being made redundant from a staff post on a consumer magazine I’ve managed to secure some online shifts at a national newspaper.

I don’t consider myself permanently employed as it’s casual work, although it’s a huge relief to be earning again.

Shift work is a double-edged sword: you’ll never do a normal nine-to-five and there’s no guarantee of work, but you have greater flexibility to pursue other freelance work and time to keep up the job applications.

Casual shifts aren’t generally advertised. I got the gig through a friend who already worked at the paper and put me in touch with the managing editor. I sent in my CV and then hounded her every day for two weeks before she agreed to see me.

Mind you, constant harassment alone won’t get you through the door – you’ll need experience of using content management systems if you’re looking to work online or reporting experience for writing shifts.

You have to be prepared to work nights and weekends as these are the shifts that are unpopular and therefore available. As you prove yourself, it’s likely that you’ll be given a few day shifts.

Days involve more writing as you’re taking agency copy and re-writing and subbing it before publishing to the web.  You’ll need to keep your wits about you when it comes to legal issues as copy is usually subbed after the story goes live.

Nights are about uploading staff copy, so there’s less writing. They are also relentless.

Despite this, I’d thoroughly recommend taking up shift work. Not only are you earning, you’re also gaining experience.

Working for the online section of a national newspaper teaches you invaluable lessons in writing for the web, subbing, linking and dealing with reader comments. It will look great on your CV too.

A lot of my fellow shift workers also do casual work for other newspapers and you soon find there’s a circuit for this kind of work.

You could do worse than cold-calling a news desk and tracking down the relevant editor to see if they have any shifts going, but be warned: you will need relevant experience in the field as you have to hit the ground running.