What new (and old) grads should know about job hunting

April 30, 2010 at 11:41 am 1 comment

Congratulations, graduates — now you get to find a job! With the graduation season about to get into full swing, it seemed an appropriate time to provide some tried-and-true job hunting advice, which most grads don’t seem to get in college (yep, parents, all that expensive education doesn’t appear to include a course in how to find work)! And no matter how long ago you graduated, a little refresher course in the basics never hurt anyone.

First, just a few facts about what the Class of 2010 will find out there in the real world: According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the job market is looking up — employers anticipate hiring 5.3 percent more recently minted college grads than they did a year ago. Yet because the market was so terrible the past two years, many new and recent graduates went back to school for another degree, or stopped looking. Hence, the job market this year for recent grads will be more crowded — and some who took a basic job just to have one will be trying to trade up now as well!

But new grads shouldn’t despair and should get going. And communications and journalism graduates — despite all the gallows humor you’ll be treated to from friends, family and even those in the business — will have opportunities, too, they just need to be open to them.

So here is a quick summary — without the expensive college-degree price tag — of how to proceed in your job hunt:

*Honestly inventory your skills, experience and talents. This should be your first step. Be realistic about your skills so that you can then target jobs that make sense for you. A skills inventory should come before you update your resume and LinkedIn profile and definitely before you start contacting employers. Consider your internships, summer job experience, academic credentials and other skills (perhaps leadership skills gained in college or community organizations or talents you have such as music or writing) and think about where you could best put these to use. And recognize what skills you have that separate you from others, and which are typical — for instance, among journalism and communications grads, multimedia experience is expected, so don’t anticipate that this alone will land you a job.

*Polish your job-hunting skills and approach. Read a lot — online at blogs like this one (there’s plenty in the dcworks archives!) and at sites like poynter.org and glassdoor.com, attend free or low-cost job-hunting seminars through local organizations and take advantage of job fairs and other job-hunting activities offered through your college or university. Spend time coming up with a top-notch resume, develop a good style for cover letters, and practice, practice, practice your interviewing skills and technique. They still, sadly, don’t teach all this in college — so teach yourself. Better yet, band together with fellow job-hunting grads to form a support group and help each other.

*Think broadly as you develop your network. First, use your university network to get going on your search. Tell everyone you know that you’re looking (and there’s no shame in this — you just finished school so everyone expects you’d be job hunting, and some will remember when they were in that situation and will want to help!) and ask them for advice and introductions. Research specific career paths by talking to those who have successfully gone down that path. Start with the careers office at your school, but keep in mind that everyone else will be doing the same, so expand quickly from there. Tap your alumni network immediately — get involved in alumni clubs as a first step now that you’ll be eligible to join. Ask people you meet at events to make introductions for you to alumni in your field who may know of jobs in cities where you want to work — this will be an invaluable way into organizations that may be hiring. And don’t be ashamed about asking family and family friends for help; this could help open a lot of doors.

*Be open to possibility. Many of us — new and “old” grads alike — sometimes narrow our options without even realizing it. Though you want to target some jobs (and beware of spamming the universe with your resume — mindlessly sending out job applications on huge online sites won’t land you a job, I assure you) that make sense, you also want to use your network to help you think more creatively and broadly about the types of experience you want to gain at this point in your career. While salary and benefits are always a concern, they often are less of a worry early in your career (especially if you have parents willing to extend their generosity a bit longer and help you out financially) and at this point your goal should be to find a job that provides you with necessary experience, helps you develop key contacts and a network, and excites you about your career field. So be realistic about what makes sense given your skills but keep an open mind about where those skills could lead you!

*And today I have the good fortune of offering congratulations to another dcworks supporter and area journalist whose job hunt has ended well. John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls “the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing,” was laid off from the Baltimore Sun in their purge last spring and is headed — back to the Sun! John starts May 4 as as newspaper’s Night Content Production Manager, overseeing newsroom operations in the evening. When I asked John for some reflections on his job search, he sent me a link to his announcement on his blog (which I’ll include here) but also, a note that I am going to print in full — because it offers pearls of advice and is simply a pleasure to read for its honesty and truth. A few practical bits of advice I’ll highlight: don’t take a layoff or job cut personally and don’t be bitter about it; find a way to keep doing what you love even while you search; get organized and pay attention to the details of your search; and be open to possibilities — you never know from what direction your next job will come! Congratulations to John, and thanks to him for these reflections:

Happy as I am to have a job after a year of unemployment, and happy as I am to be able to return to The Baltimore Sun, I remain keenly aware of the scores of journalists I’ve known over the years who have been cast out of the business, and many of whom are still trying to find meaningful work.

I knew weeks in advance of last year’s massive dismissals that something ugly was coming; the sickening drop in advertising revenue simply would not support the newsroom as it was then staffed, and I was perfectly aware that my position was in danger. So here was my first resolve: not to take it personally. I knew that Monty Cook did not want to discharge me, and I saw that it had fallen to him to perform a profoundly disagreeable duty — just as it would have fallen to me if I had been kept on to dismiss most of The Sun’s copy editors the following day. I was determined to leave with as much dignity as I could muster, not whining about my fate or badmouthing anyone.
My next resolve was to continue blogging, which would give me something to do each day while keeping me visible. The blog was something to hold onto when days turned discouraging, and it fostered networking. Supportive comments from readers were deeply heartening.
I set out determined to find work, and I tried to position myself for work that was consonant with my skills and abilities but different from what I had done before. Of course, with all kinds of people out of work, no one had to take a chance on someone who would have to learn the job on the job, and no one did. But I kept filing applications and buttonholing acquaintances about possibilities.
Mistakes were made. I made them. I delayed too long in attending the Professional Outplacement Assistance Center workshop in Howard County to refine my resume(s) and approaches to application. I should have done that immediately. There were a couple of possibilities that I bungled embarrassingly (and still prefer not to discuss). It is probably a good thing to allow oneself to express the emotions of sadness and anger and to acknowledge that there would be good days and bad days, but I spent more time hiding in the house reading murder mysteries than was good for me.
On the positive side, I relied on my family. We celebrated my son’s graduation from St. John’s College in Annapolis. We — my wife, my son, my daughter, and I — established a pattern of a family meal every Sunday evening. I drove to Kentucky to attend reunion parties on the fortieth anniversary of my high school graduation. Having free time since January has allowed me to take the role of Franklin Roosevelt in the Memorial Players’ production of “Annie.” I landed a series of freelance editing jobs — a federal agency’s annual report, a couple of book manuscripts, and other miscellaneous work — that brought in enough money to keep me above water and to remind me that my ability and worth as an editor have not evaporated. I continued to teach a course in editing at Loyola in Baltimore each semester.
And finally, after all the dozens of futile and ignored applications, the leads that led nowhere, I wound up with an offer largely by chance. I went to The Sun to pay my respects to Elizabeth Large on her last day as restaurant critic and blogger, and while there I stopped by Monty Cook’s office to say hello. Knowing that the paper had announced an opening for a content editor, I asked, half-jokingly, if he could use an experienced editor. He asked, “Would you be willing to come back?” and proceeded to describe plans for a new position overseeing the production of the print and online editions in the evening. I said yes. He said two things: “If you accept this offer, it will have an immediate, positive effect throughout the entire newsroom” and “it will make something right from a year ago.”
So in five days, after the conclusion of my brief theatrical career, I will be back in the newsroom. I look forward to learning new duties and skills. I look forward to working with my former colleagues who remain there. I look forward to working to improve the product. But I am not giddy. The Tribune Company is about to emerge from bankruptcy, and the experience of other publishing companies has not been encouraging. I have accepted this job with full realization that I may soon be looking for work again. But as long as I am at that desk, The Sun will get the best work from me that I have to offer. I am, by God, still an editor.


*And here are some job leads to close out this work week:

*Vital Voices Global Partnership in D.C., a nonprofit organization dedicated to identifying and bringing visibility to women leaders around the world, has an opening for a vice president of communications:

Vice President, Communications
IvyExec, LLC – Washington, DC
public affairs or communications working with a well… affairs and communications program; proven ability to mobilize resources for communications activities;…
From Ivy Exec

*Northern Virginia Community College has an opening in Annandale for a public information/communications officer:
Crisis Communication Public Information Officer
Northern Virginia Community College – Annandale, VA
communications, preparing crisis communications plans… with a focus on crisis communication. Excellent written and oral English communication skills, knowled $108,000 a year
From VirginiaJobNetwork.com

*Courtesy of journalismjobs.com (for these next two positions), Post-Newsweek Media has an opening in Gaithersburg for a copy/layout editor to work on in-house projects:

Company: Post-Newsweek Media
Not your typical copy desk position!
Gaithersburg, Maryland
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
June 3, 2010
Job ID: 1166811

Copy editors, expand your horizons! Post-Newsweek Media Inc., in Gaithersburg, MD, seeks a copy/layout editor to work with clients and on in-house projects. This job comes with the opportunity to independently edit supplements and to use or learn basic graphic design skills. The ideal candidate will have strong attention to detail in a fast-paced environment with shifting deadlines and priorities.

If you come from a newsroom and want to branch out in publishing within a newspaper environment, this job will interest you. However, this position is not in a newsroom, so if you have a passion for reporting/hardcore journalism, this job will NOT be for you.

Prefer some experience on a PC platform with QuarkXPress and PhotoShop, but will train the right entry-level candidate. Company offers benefits including medical, dental and 401(k).

Send cover letter, resumes and two writing, editing or design samples to specialsectionsjobs@gazette.net. No phone calls. We do not pay relocation expenses.

*And to wrap up today’s and this week’s leads, the Washington bureau of Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s leading daily newspaper, has an opening for an economics news assistant/staff reporter — this could be a good position for someone just getting into the business who wants to build their experience:

Company: Asahi Shimbun
Economics News Assistant/Staff Reporter
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
May 28, 2010
Job ID: 1165458

The Asahi Shimbun is Japan’s leading national daily newspaper. Based in Tokyo, it has a circulation of more than eight million. Its North American bureaus are located in Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles.

Qualifications: Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, master’s preferred. Interest or background in covering U.S. and international economics and finance is highly desirable. U.S. citizenship is required. Japanese language is helpful but not necessary.

Duties: Duties include assisting our Washington economics correspondent with articles by conducting thorough background research, attending press briefings, gathering news and views, arranging interviews, and closely following developments in the area of international economics, including the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve. Some administrative support, such as transcribing interviews and other assignments, is also required. This is a reporting position with no article-writing or byline opportunities. Compensation includes overtime pay, excellent medical/dental benefits, and 401(k). Salary: $33,000-$36,000.

Please email cover letter and resume to AsahiDC@nationalpress.com. Deadline: Friday, May 7. No clips or phone calls, please.

Contact Information: Hiring Manager The Asahi Shimbun 1022 National Press Building Washington, D.C. 20045 AsahiDC@nationalpress.com

Happy hunting and have a fun and relaxing weekend! I’ll be back with you again Monday!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Marlene Kennedy  |  May 3, 2010 at 2:08 am

    Thanks for including the inspirational words from John McIntyre. Those of us still searching can draw strength from his resolve. And I love his “battle cry”: I am, by God, still an editor.


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