Archive for December, 2009

When life (and jobs) are like the movies…

As 2009 draws to a close (good riddance!!) it’s time to think about (not resolutions, I promise!)…movies. So we here at dcworks thought it a good time to look at some films playing at your local cineplex (or to put in your Netflix cue) and to explore them for their messages about jobs, job hunting and work in general.

In no particular order: (more…)


December 31, 2009 at 3:10 am Leave a comment

Seeking a job with an employer that has cut jobs

I’ve had several emails lately from correspondents who are interested in what sounds like a good job — but it gives them pause because the opening is with an organization that they know has wielded the job-cutting ax in recent months. It’s a situation that job hunters — especially in journalism — are likely to face as hiring starts showing signs of life again. Some organizations that had cut positions may have cut too much and are adding back jobs while others are filling new openings that have arisen since they laid off workers.

While one shouldn’t dismiss these openings with good organizations (and I know I’ve listed some of them under leads on this blog) job hunters should step up their research when exploring such positions. While you always want to do research about the financial health of the organization you’re considering, it’s imperative to do so with a company that has recently resorted to dumping employees. In addition to the regular research you do on a company, you’ll need to try to determine if they are likely to have more cuts and especially if the job you are considering may be vulnerable.

Here are some tips for doing some research in this situation: (more…)

December 30, 2009 at 11:03 am Leave a comment

Pitching Brand You: The “Elevator Speech”

I have resisted, I really have, as I truly dislike the “elevator speech” cliche. (What happens if you get stuck in that elevator? Does it turn into the “elevator monologue?” And can it not be delivered on an escalator or on the Metro?) Yet several email correspondents have recently asked about ways to craft this tool — which essentially is a 30-second explanation of your experience and what you’re looking for in a job. (The reason behind the cliche is that you should be able to deliver this pitch in the time it takes to ride in the elevator from your floor to your destination. Catchy, huh?)

All sarcasm aside, it’s important to come up with a short, snappy explanation of your employment goals —  for this little speech, for a business card (which all job hunters definitely need) and for the personal statement portion of your resume before you detail your experience and background.  In this era of branding, you need to find ways to clearly and succinctly pitch your own brand in a way that people will remember.

So whether for the elevator, the business card or your next networking event, here are some elements this pitch should contain: (more…)

December 29, 2009 at 2:12 am Leave a comment

How to make the most of a job interview

These days, landing an interview with a potential employer is a cause for celebration on its own — with all the competition (especially for journalism positions) even getting to the interview stage means you likely have leapfrogged over many applicants. But because of the intense competition, that means there is all that more pressure to make the interview memorable, especially as you are likely only one of several applicants who have made it to this stage.

How do you stand out — in a positive way? First, for journalists, you have to remember that you’re not in control of the interview like you so often have been as a reporter, and you must avoid trying to take charge. (see Oct. 14 blog post “When the interviewer becomes the interviewee…”) Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t adopt some strategies for turning the interview to your advantage. This will require employing some techniques before, during and after the interview, experts say, including: (more…)

December 28, 2009 at 2:29 am Leave a comment

Contemplating your search or job over the holiday weekend(s)

With two long holiday weekends coming up, it seems like a good time to take stock of your job search or your current job and whether you want to start a search in the new year!  It has been a tough and exhausting year for job hunters with a brutally competitive hiring environment and few new openings,  though experts expect that to improve somewhat in 2010 as hiring picks up. Yet it has also been a rough year for journalists still employed — often in news organizations with severely depleted (and many times demoralized) staffs and no new resources, plus salary cuts, freezes and furloughs.

In looking ahead to the new year and developing a new (or revived) strategy for finding a job or trying to make the one you have better (or get a promotion at your organization) here are some ideas: (more…)

December 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm Leave a comment

When to consider relocating for a job

Willing to relocate? That phrase in some job listings — and often uttered by placement counselors — sticks in many a job seeker’s mind on days when the phone isn’t ringing. These days, when it looks like you can’t find a decent journalism or related job in D.C., you might be tempted to look elsewhere — others do, and somehow survive.

Relocation — either permanent or temporary — as a way to end unemployment is becoming a fact of life for some D.C. area job seekers. But before taking your show on the road, experts say you need to do some serious thinking and some research. Despite the tough job market here, the D.C. area actually has more opportunities for transitioning journalists than many other regions. (See Dec. 7 blog post “Why D.C. is a relatively good market for job hunters”) Also, other places may not be as inexpensive as they seem and you may not have the same network for free-lancing and part-time work while looking, not to mention a necessary support system to keep up your spirits.

Yet career counselors say job hunters should consider relocating when: (more…)

December 23, 2009 at 4:16 am 1 comment

Making initial contact — the inquiry letter

Now that journalists are being advised to proactively reach out to employers as hiring improves, an obvious question arises: How should you best make initial contact with someone you don’t know and who you aren’t even sure has an opening? This is similar to the dreaded cold call that salesmen and public relations professionals learn how to make early on in their careers. For job seekers, it’s known as the inquiry letter.

This letter is similar to a cover letter except that you aren’t really applying for a specific job and you are sending it uninvited to the contact. Before sending an inquiry letter, you should research the company and come to the conclusion that they are likely to be hiring soon. And if you’re fortunate, you may have gotten their attention before they run an ad for the world to see, and will contact you before others. At the very least, you may have impressed them enough to keep your resume on file for future openings. Most recruiters and hiring managers like to help people when they can — keep this in mind.

While you want to impress, remember that you are contacting someone who owes you nothing, so be careful. Give them a reason to want to get back to you and above all, don’t be a nuisance. Experts offer the following tips for crafting an inquiry letter: (more…)

December 22, 2009 at 3:17 am Leave a comment

Older Posts

DC Works has moved!

I'm now blogging at I hope you'll join me there!