How to survive in a fiercely competitive job market

December 16, 2009 at 3:24 am Leave a comment

The one thing most job hunters can agree on — besides that it takes forever to get one’s phone calls returned! — is that this job market is brutally competitive. For every good opening, there are hundreds of interested candidates. And until hiring substantially picks up, especially in journalism, it’s likely to remain that way.

But what can you do to not only survive the competition but to beat it and capture a job when the odds seem to be against you? Experts say job hunters can take some advice from sports coaches and psychologists and learn how to compete. Their tips include:

*Train yourself mentally to become a job-hunting competitor. Just as an athlete must practice and train with no room for error on game day, job hunters today must put on their game face and compete to win. (Okay, I promise to stop the sports analogies soon.) Training means updating that resume so that it is an effective marketing tool, polishing your interview skills, preparing the best reference list you can and being realistic about your skills. Stay in your weight class — this is not a time to be going after that “reach” position. People are applying for jobs for which they’re overqualified and employers have their pick of candidates, so you want to make sure you are absolutely qualified and ready for the jobs you’re seeking. You’ll need all your skills and a positive attitude to compete.

*Confine details about your job search to a close circle of people you can trust. As people are furiously chasing after jobs, you don’t want to give away information. You don’t have to be rude about it but when other job seekers ask where you’re applying, you can tell them that you feel awkward discussing the specifics of your search until you land something, and then you’ll be happy to provide information. While it’s good to help others, it’s not wise to provide information about jobs that rivals may not know about — why add more competition to your search?

*Work your network — in a competitive market more than ever. Many jobs are still not advertised as employers don’t want to be flooded by resumes. Seek out these word-of-mouth jobs and then go after them with all you’ve got. This is the more likely way you’ll land a job but it requires a lot of determination to keep expanding your network and seeking help from people you may not know well.

*Try to stand out. Figure out ways that your skills and experience can help employers in ways they may not even recognize. Don’t just market your skills that the employer knows they are looking for — think of ways that you may be able to assist them in other ways. Experienced editors may have management or organizational skills that could push them to the front of the line. Reporters may be able to assist in various coverage areas and become more valuable to organizations. Think broadly and promote yourself in various ways to prospective employers.

*Several bits of good job news to pass along today! Please send word of D.C. journalism types landing well — it inspires others:

*Colby Itkowitz, a transportation reporter at CQ for the past three years, on Dec. 28 will start a new job as Washington correspondent for the Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call. She will be based in the Tribune Co.’s D.C. bureau. Congratulations, Colby!

*Bob Merry, the long-time and much revered president of CQ until he left with the sale to the Economist Group in early August, will become a publisher again.  In January, Bob will join the global intelligence firm Stratfor as publisher. The link to the press release follows:

*As always, some job leads to pass along. This following link is to a listing of Hill job openings — there are at least a few on this list that may be appropriate for transitioning journalists:

*Also, an email correspondent passes along word that a Republican House member is looking for a press secretary with the following credentials:

House member is  seeking a motivated, organized and responsible Press Secretary. Applicant must have excellent communications skills – both written and oral. Candidate should understand fundamentals of journalism and be able to juggle a variety of tasks simultaneously. Responsibilities will include writing press releases and weekly column, updating Web site, and administering an aggressive direct-mail program, among other things. Ideal candidate will express a “no job is too small” attitude, be a team player, and have genuine interest in conservative issues and Republican politics. Experience working with national media a plus.

If you’re interested, let me know (either in the comment section here or on Facebook or at and I’ll connect you with the tipster who is in touch with the House office.

*Comprint Military Publications is looking for a photojournalist in nearby Quantico, Va. (The hat tip on this listing is to both Mediabistro and

Company: Post-Newsweek Media, Inc.
Quantico, Virginia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
January 19, 2010
Job ID: 1134283

Comprint Military Publications has an immediate opening for a full-time photojournalist in its Quantico, VA office.

Photo editing capability on-site at PAO premises. The individual assigned to this task will have extensive experience in photojournalism and photo editing. He or she must possess the ability to envision creative photojournalism possibilities and create graphic illustrations that support articles when photography is not available. This person shall also demonstrate ability to layout the newspaper, in the case of the absence of the publisher-provided layout/graphic design specialist. Specific services required: generate photo stories, shoot assignments, produce multimedia projects that support Sentry articles online and electronic editing of photos for optimum publication quality in the Sentry. The PAO retains final authority for decisions on all photo services as they pertain to the editorial content of the Sentry.

We offer a competitive compensation and comprehensive benefits package including medical, dental, pension, 401(k) and tuition reimbursement. EOE.

E-mail resume and samples to:

No phone calls.

Happy hunting!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Settling into a job-search routine Grab bag — do’s and don’ts, collecting on free-lance and some leads

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