How to Avoid Job-hunting Traps

June 25, 2010 at 11:40 am Leave a comment

Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, job hunters sabotage their own efforts. By acting on outdated information (perhaps based on the last time they searched, even if it was years ago) or misguided advice, they waste precious time and energy focusing on strategies that are unlikely to land them a job — at least any time soon. And sometimes what seems to be a good idea for a while turns out not to be worth more time, but it’s tough to change direction.

Here are some common job-hunting traps and how to avoid them:

*Waiting for potential employers to contact you or to get back to you. Face it, it simply won’t happen. Especially these days, when recruiting positions have been cut and managers are filling jobs in addition to handling other duties, often they are too busy to focus on anything but that day’s work. Through polite persistence (and always remain polite and deferential — the best way to assure you won’t be hired is to become an annoying and demanding pest), you need to keep your candidacy alive. If a hiring manager or organization shows interest in you, follow up right away and be in touch regularly with email updates on your free-lance or consulting work (with attached clips and links) and reminders about your interest in their organization. You can’t take it “personally” if you seem to be doing all the work here — that’s just the way it is these days. Seek to get an informational or standard interview so that they’ve met you and will become an advocate for you within the organization. And then stay in touch so that when an opening pops up unexpectedly — as they so often do — your name and resume will be at the top of their list.

*Heading down one path at a time. Though it may seem like an organized strategy to focus on going after one opening after another, that’s not very realistic in this competitive job market. It’s better to find several organizations where you want to work and then (following the advice in the previous item) simultaneously target your efforts to try to land interviews with multiple hiring managers. That way, if you strike out at one place, you’re not starting all over again. It’s also better for your ego to have plenty of possibilities. And if you end up with multiple offers, so much the better — that puts you in a stronger negotiating position.

*Expecting your experience and expertise to speak for itself. Mid-career and senior professionals, especially if they haven’t conducted a job search in years or if they’re job hunting while still employed, often start off a search thinking that their stellar resume and impressive reputation will automatically land them interviews and offers. Some hiring managers have told me that respected journalists taking buyouts have called them and wanted to know when they should come by for an interview — expecting that because they were available doors would simply open for them. No matter how experienced you are, these days you’re going to need to work hard to even get a chance to pitch your skills. And the sooner you realize that, the sooner you can develop a realistic game plan and strategy.

*Focusing too much effort making online connections. Networking is definitely the key to any successful job search these days and social networking must be part of that. But even as you develop an online profile and make connections in the virtual world, you must meet and greet in the old-fashioned sense as well. Facebook friends are not the same as friends and contacts in the real world. Indeed, online connections are valuable because they lead to real connections — you want to follow up with new (and old) friends online with phone calls and in-person meetings. Social networking is a valuable tool in a job search but it’s only a tool and not an end in itself, keep that in mind and apportion your time online accordingly.

*And speaking of social networking, a dcworks supporter has decided to make that a new career focus as she looks for full-time work. Alexis Grant left her job as a health reporter at the Houston Chronicle in May 2008 to backpack through Africa. Her travel blog, Inkslinging in Africa, is now serving as the basis of  a book she hopes to publish. Meanwhile, as she job hunts, she has decided to start a social-media consulting business. The following link contains details:


*And I’m happy to mention interesting free-lance or consulting work that other dcworks members are doing. Please send along items for me to post — or pitch the work of others!

*To wrap up this  long (not to mention hazy, hot and humid) work week, here is a variety of leads to pursue:

*The United Nations Foundation has several openings in D.C., including for a deputy executive director of communications and public affairs
Deputy Executive Director, Communications and Public Affairs
United Nations Foundation – Washington, DC
communications products and events in direct day-to-day management with the foundation’s communications… and communication budgets; Create communications and…
From RetiredBrains

*Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Komen Advocacy Alliance in D.C. is looking for a senior communications and external relations adviser:
Sr. DC Communications & External Relations Advisor
Susan G. Komen for the Cure – Washington, DC
relations journalism communications or the equivalent… environment Requires strong oral and written communications skills including knowledge of the Associated…

*Direct Impact, part of Burson-Marsteller, has an opening in D.C. for a managing director:
Managing Director, Direct Impact
Burson-Marsteller – Washington, DC
leading grassroots communications consulting firm and… sector communications initiatives. Qualified candidates will have 15+ years public affairs/communications
From Burson-Marsteller

*The National Employment Law Project (NELP) is looking for a communications director in D.C. — if interested, better send in a resume right as the deadline for applications is today:

*Another Hill opening — House Majority Leader Hoyer’s office is looking for a press secretary:

The Office of the House Majority Leader is seeking a Press Secretary to serve as a national spokesperson and to develop House Democrats’ message and strategy in coordination with leadership offices, the Administration, and House Committees. Qualified candidates must have a minimum of 5 years press experience, and previous Hill experience is strongly preferred. Candidates must be energetic self-starters, and have excellent writing and editing skills, extensive on-the-record experience with national press, strong political judgment, and an ability to work under tight deadlines. The Press Secretary will be responsible for responding to reporters, drafting press releases, preparing talking points, and developing and implementing strategies to assist Member offices. To apply, please email a resume and two writing samples to

*With a hat tip to (for these next few leads),  The Washington Post’s Express commuter daily in D.C. is looking for a “versatile” editor (is there any other kind?):

Company: Washington Post Express
Versatile Editor
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
July 27, 2010
Job ID: 1178666

Express, The Washington Post Co.’s free commuter daily, is seeking a versatile editor with a deep knowledge of the D.C. area to join its fast-paced newsroom.

This editor would join the team that produces our Nation, World, Local and Sports pages, and would also participate in news-focused development projects online and in mobile platforms.

The ideal candidate will have 2-5 years’ experience in a news-gathering environment. He or she must demonstrate sound editorial judgment and a mastery of grammar, story-telling structure and AP style. Exceptional headline- and caption-writing skills are essential, as are basic skills in online publishing and page layout.

Send resume, letter, three writing samples and salary requirements to (please put “Versatile Editor” in the subject line) or to:

Express Versatile Editor Job
1150 15th St. NW
5th Floor, Lennox Bldg.
Washington D.C. 20071

*NPR in D.C. has an opening for a correspondent who would develop investigative pieces:

Company: National Public Radio
Correspondent, Investigations & CAR
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Not Specified
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
July 28, 2010
Job ID: 1179005

This correspondent develops investigative stories for NPR news magazines and using computer-assisted reporting and database analysis under short, medium and long deadlines. Based in Washington, DC, this versatile correspondent will help drive NPR’s high profile effort in investigative and enterprise reporting online and on-air. Correspondent will posses a proven track record of generating compelling and original investigative stories, seasoned and sophisticated news judgment and a creative approach to storytelling in narrative writing and multimedia. This correspondent will be working as part of the NPR investigative team, but will also work collaboratively on projects across the NPR newsroom and with its member stations.

Education: Bachelor’s degree and/or equivalent work experience. Required: At least 8 years’ journalism experience. At least 3 years’ experience with investigative work and computer-assisted reporting. Proven track record as a journalist developing and executing enterprise and investigative stories and coverage under long and short deadlines. Proven track record working with seasoned journalists in a major news organization. Experience working with affiliated news organizations, such as local broadcast affiliates or other newspapers within a chain and a willingness to work with member stations. Experience creating digital reporting and presentation tools. Excellent communication and organizational skills. Proven writing ability. A creative mind, extreme flexibility in work assignments and adaptability to new technology. Willingness to innovate, learn new skills and create new ways to serve the NPR community on all platforms. Ability to relocate. In the future, NPR may choose to transfer employees to other geographic locations. Severance provisions of the AFTRA collective bargaining agreement will apply should you choose not to accept a transfer. Ability to work quickly and efficiently under deadline pressure. Ability and willingness to work varied shifts. Proven ability to consistently work well with others, demonstrating at all times respect for the diverse constituencies at NPR and within the public radio system. Preferred: On-air experience. Experience working in and/or knowledge of public radio and the public radio system. Graduate or professional school degree.

Submitting a resume online at a job site could cause valuable screening information to be missed.

Please apply directly at:

*And last but not least this work week,  the Defense News Media Group in Springfield has an opening for a reporter:

Company: Defense News Media Group
seeking a reporter who can demonstrate a
Springfield, Virginia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
July 20, 2010
Job ID: 1177030

TSJ and C4ISR Journals are seeking a reporter who can demonstrate a passion for covering the technologies, programs and milestones of the global training, simulation, intelligence and surveillance and cyber security communities. The reporter will work with a small team of Journal Editors to help generate news content for both magazines and their Websites. The successful applicant will be able to translate complex, technical issues and developments into clear, accurate, accessible copy that provides essential facts and information to an expert readership. The reporter will be assigned articles and briefings by the Journal Editors, but should also demonstrate self-motivation to develop industry contacts and sources that lead to breaking news copy. The reporter should have the confidence and maturity to obtain and conduct interviews with senior military officers, program engineers, industry chiefs and congressional leaders. One to two years reporting for trade publications preferred. Knowledge of aerospace/defense industry and AP style also preferred. Send resume to, M/F/V/D

Happy hunting! Hope you have a fun and relaxing weekend, and I’ll be back with you bright and early Monday morning!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

More Things to Consider Before Taking a Job How to Handle Difficult People — Even if They Are Your Boss or the Recruiter

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