When to consider a tryout or audition for a job

March 23, 2010 at 2:14 am Leave a comment

In a hotly competitive job market, employers often up the ante in terms of what they expect from job candidates in the hiring process. No longer is it enough to go through several interviews and various tests; a growing number of organizations are expecting prospective employees to showcase their skills in week (or more)-long tryouts or auditions.

For some, especially those relatively new to the profession who have little to lose from the experience, a tryout can provide an opportunity to impress a prospective employer. Yet for others, especially those who want to keep their candidacy quiet or who are suspicious of the employer’s motives in offering a tryout, this may seem less like an opportunity and more like a burden that they can’t figure out how to avoid.

Career experts offer these tips on when to consider a tryout or audition, and how to make the most of this once you decide to go through with it:

*Try to determine the employer’s motives up front. Has this become a routine part of the hiring culture at this organization — are all serious candidates for this position asked for a tryout? If not, why are they asking you to do so? If you recently have been laid off, is the organization taking advantage of your availability with the tryout? Does this appear to be a way to get free or low-cost free-lance help? If it appears to be a legitimate step in the hiring process, you may have little choice — especially if your schedule is pretty free — to take this step and it could be just the ticket to a job. But ask around and do some checking beforehand, especially to ensure that you are a strong candidate for the position and that this is a step that could well lead to a job offer.

*Negotiate the terms of the the tryout. Try to get them to work around your schedule and availability, and ensure that the work you’ll be asked to do will allow you to show off your skills. If you are applying for an editing position but the organization wants you to do some reporting or to act as a Web producer, that could be a red flag. While any tryout will obviously involve somewhat different duties than you would handle if you were hired, you should ensure that the tryout involves skills that are at least relevant to the position you’re seeking. And be wary of a situation where you’re doing work for free — most organizations will negotiate a contract or free-lance fee for such work. If they don’t, that’s an automatic red flag.

*A tryout, especially one that has you in the office with prospective colleagues, can be an effective way to gain the support of a team — whose members may go to bat for you in trying to get you hired. So if you easily make friends and gain people’s trust, a tryout could aid your candidacy. But if you are a loner or aren’t good at adapting to new situations, this could backfire, and you might want to avoid an office tryout. Another benefit of such an audition could be that even if you are not right for this particular job, you may impress the hiring manager or others on the team enough that they want to consider you for other jobs down the road. So weigh the positives and negatives before you make a decision.

*Figure out who will be supervising you and determining whether your tryout was a success or a bust. If it’s the hiring manager who will be making a decision about an offer, that’s a good sign. If it’s someone not in a hiring position who doesn’t really care if you succeed, or worse yet may have reasons to resent your candidacy, that could lead to a disastrous and waste-of-your-time audition. Find out who will be looking for signs not only of your skills and talents, but your ability to adapt to the team and to the corporate culture. For a tryout to be an effective signal of your fitness for this job, someone familiar with the job and what it takes to succeed in the culture should be monitoring your performance. Again, determine this before you accept the tryout.

*The following Newsweek (and newsweek.com) piece is food for thought for all journalists. No matter how far women sometimes seem to have come in journalism, or in the workplace generally, we haven’t really come all that far as this piece (without whining or blaming!) makes clear. And hats off to Newsweek for publishing it; some other news organizations would have edited out all the unpleasant truths:

http://bit.ly/bFtF8h

*On a more hopeful note, here are some communication, journalism and digital job leads to pursue:

*The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in D.C. needs (any of us who has ridden on Metro lately might say badly needs!) a strategic policy and communications specialist:

Strat. Policy & Comm. Spec.
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority – Washington, DC
communications or related field. Eight years (8) progressively responsible experience in public or business administration, government relations, communications… $80,120 – $120,237 a year
From washingtonpost.com


*POLITICO in Arlington has a variety of job openings listed on journalismjobs.com. Here are a couple of examples:

Company: POLITICO
Position:
Technology Reporter
Location:
Arlington, Virginia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
April 23, 2010
Job ID: 1149161

Description:
Technology reporter

Department: POLITICO

Contact: employment@politico.com

Description :

We are looking for an experienced reporter to cover the intersection of politics and policy in the technology sector. The ideal candidate possesses policy expertise and a passion for politics. The ability to write fast and analytically is a plus. This is not a conventional reporting job and will require versatility, especially an ability to write both quick, breaking news items and broader conceptual articles.

Qualifications:

Experience in covering technology policy/politics at the professional level; established ability to write clearly and accurately on deadline; proven ability to break news and handle a demanding, fast-moving reporting job. To apply: Please send a brief cover letter, resume, clips and contact information for three references to employment@politico.com, subject line “Technology reporter.”

No phone calls, please.

And:

Company: POLITICO
Position:
Web producers
Location:
Arlington, Virginia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
April 29, 2010
Job ID: 1143057

Description:
Department: News

Contact: employment@politico.com

Description :

POLITICO seeks Web producers to produce and manage content on political news. Duties include writing headlines and teases, converting and enhancing stories for Web presentation, posting video content, monitoring the site and maintaining quality control.

Qualifications:

Experience working in a newsroom environment and proven ability to meet deadlines a plus. Degrees or training in journalism or communications, and experience with HTML and/or content management systems are a plus. Working knowledge of national and congressional politics helpful.

College degree or equivalent. One year demonstrated Internet publication experience preferred. Available to work flexible hours, nights, and weekends to meet needs of web publishing deadlines.

Application procedure:

Send resume to employment@politico.com with “Web producer” in subject line.

No phone calls, please.

*Also on journalismjobs.com POLITICO’s sister organization,  WJLA-TV/News Channel 8’s Metro site  in Arlington, has several openings listed. Here are a couple of examples:

Company: WJLA-TV/NEWSCHANNEL8 METRO SITE
Position:
SENIOR COMMUNITY HOST, METRO SITE
Location:
Arlington, Virginia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
April 23, 2010
Job ID: 1157554

Description:
Position: SENIOR COMMUNITY HOST, METRO SITE.

Available: 03/18/2010.

Department: DIGITAL STRATEGY

Hiring Manager: Steve Buttry

POSITION SUMMARY: We’re looking for a journalist who wants to help shape the future of community engagement in local news. You will play a key role in an exciting online operation covering local news for the Washington metro area. You won’t have to worry about the way we’ve always done things, because you will be trailblazing a new job for a new organization. You will have a senior position in a team of community managers. Duties will include: leading community engagement in coverage of breaking news; recruiting and managing relations with community bloggers; moderating community conversation in live chats, discussion forums and site comments; handling community-submitted content; managing special community-engagement projects, such as events and contests; coaching and mentoring other community managers. We’re looking for an experienced digital journalist with involvement in community engagement avenues such as blogging, crowdsourcing and social media.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: Send resume to: Human Resources Department, 1100 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22209.

NO PHONE CALLS or E-MAILS

And

Company: WJLA-TV/NEWSCHANNEL8 METRO SITE
Position:
SOCIAL MEDIA PRODUCER, METRO SITE
Location:
Arlington, Virginia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
April 23, 2010
Job ID: 1157524

Description:
Position: SOCIAL MEDIA PRODUCER, METRO SITE Available: 03/18/2010

Department: DIGITAL STRATEGY

Hiring Manager: Steve Buttry

POSITION SUMMARY:

We’re looking for a journalist who wants to help shape the role social media will play in the future of local news. You will play a key role in an exciting online operation covering local news for the Washington metro area. You won’t have to worry about the way we’ve always done things, because you will be trailblazing a new job for a new website. We want someone to lead our efforts to engage with the community through social media. While you will take the initiative in developing the duties of this position, some of them will be: managing social media outlets, such as Twitter feed(s), Facebook fan page(s), YouTube and Flickr channels; monitoring and responding to social media references to our work; aggregating social media content for linking to or posting on our site; promoting our content and community-engagement opportunities using social media; using Twitter and other social media to crowdsource breaking news stories, supplementing staff coverage; planning tweetups and other social-media-oriented community events. We’re looking for an experienced digital journalist who uses social media extensively for personal and professional purposes.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: Send resume to: Human Resources Department, 1100 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA 22209.

NO PHONE CALLS or E-MAILS

*With a hat tip to mediabistro.com, McGraw-Hill’s Platts division is looking for an associate editor in D.C. to cover the U.S. coal market:

Publication or Company The McGraw-Hill Companies
Industry Energy and Utilities
Job Duration Full Time
Job Location Washington, DC USA
Job Requirements About Platts: Platts, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP), is a leading global provider of energy and commodities information. With a century of business experience, Platts serves customers across more than 150 countries. An independent provider, Platts serves the oil, natural gas, electricity, emissions, nuclear power, coal, petrochemical, shipping, and metals markets from 17 offices worldwide. Platts’ real-time news, pricing, analytical services and conferences help markets operate with transparency and efficiency. Traders, risk managers, analysts, and industry leaders depend upon Platts to help them make better trading and investment decisions. Additional information is available at http://www.platts.com.

Platts is currently looking for a vigorous market reporter who can develop new sources, gain insight from other Platts price assessment processes and apply that knowledge to the US coal market and learn and report on the coal market. Position includes primarily news coverage from a market perspective and market and price reporting. Enterprise reporting is prized. Specific tasks would include finding and writing up solicitations so that readers will gain fresh glimpses into the coal market, coverage of coal-fired power plants and the challenges they may be facing in the near future, US emissions markets for SO2 and NOx, international markets for US suppliers and collaboration with International Coal publications staff, who are based primarily in London. Person would collaborate with other Platts Power groups on news and topics of interest to both. The US Coal group has a daily and a weekly publication, and associate editor would be expected to report for both. Meeting daily deadlines is mandatory.
 Skills

  • BA degree in journalism or business preferred with approximately 3-5 years of reporting/writing/analytical experience; or a graduate degree in journalism, business, economics or finance; with 2 years of reporting/writing/analytical work experience.
  • Well-rounded communication skills that implement good listening techniques, clear, concise writing style; and good verbal skills. The ability to communicate across a wide range of groups and personalities internally and externally.
  • Works well in a team environment, focusing on collaboration and adapting to the needs of a diverse team.
  • Displays good numeracy including ability to conceptualize proportional relationships; understand the basic principles of algebra and statistics; as well as a basic understanding of how to apply basic math functions in Excel. A basic understanding of economics principles is also required.
  • Adept at managing multiple tasks and adhering to regular deadlines. Able to prioritize quickly and to readjust priorities throughout the day.
  • Has basic knowledge of Microsoft Excel ; Microsoft Office suite (Word, PowerPoint, Outlook); and basic keyboarding skills (both speed and accuracy)

*And last but not least, France magazine has an opening in D.C. for a chief revenue officer:

Publication or Company France Magazine
Industry Magazine Publishing
Job Duration Other
Job Location Washington, DC USA
Job Requirements France Magazine seeks a highly motivated, self-starting executive to assume overall responsibility for ad sales, circulation acquisition and other revenue-generating activities, including special events. This is a hands-on position; the ideal candidate will be able to conceive new strategies, prepare P&L drafts for potential projects and execute those projects. He / she will also ensure coordination among all revenue-generating activities amongst a small team, setting priorities, goals and adjusting strategy as necessary.

Candidates should have associate publisher-level experience or higher and be comfortable working directly with CEOs and other high-level professionals. Fluency in French and familiarity with France and French culture is considered a plus.

Independent contractor position; initial six-month contract.

About Our Company France Magazine, a quarterly publication founded in 1985, covers the best of French culture, travel and art de vivre for a North American audience. It is published by the French-American Cultural Foundation (F-ACF) in Washington, DC.

Happy hunting!

Jodi

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Managing “up” — while on the job and on the hunt Tips for staying in touch with a prospective employer

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