Friday, July 17, 2009

Good things happen in New York City...

I’m not going to waste the time of the four (or gasp—maybe even five—people who read my blog) with apologies for not writing. I’ve been avoiding it, just like I’ve been avoiding everything for fear of failure up until about a week or two ago. I was skimping on my writing and becoming really good friends with my comfortable bedding and Abby on NCIS, but no more! (Well, maybe less.)

I had what I’m sure most recent grads looking for a job in this market have had or will have at some point, an existential crisis. I doubted my abilities as a writer and a journalist for about two weeks and I completely fell off the map. I stopped writing. I checked my e-mails, but didn’t respond to them and basically kept to myself about any aspiration I may have had in the past or currently had for the future. As I’m sure most will tell you from experience, you have to keep on chugging, and I did. And now I’m fine. I’m so fine in fact, that I have had a shit-eating grin on my face almost regularly for the last few days.

In a rare punishment and pleasure I spent the last nine days traveling with my family, four of those were spent in New York City. When I arrived I felt uncertain, but sure about the good things that would happen to me in this city, but I never imagined I’d leave with such confidence in my ability to grow up and make a career and a living for myself. Ultimately, New York gave me the hope that it would all work out. Something countless people have said to me in the last few months, but meant nothing until a few days ago.

I happened to be in the city on a day when Mediabistro was hosting a seminar on “Landing your first job in media.” So, I come bearing gifts for all those questions you never quite knew the answers to.

  • Sadly, the most important thing when you’re trying to get a job is who you know. Therefore, Networking is the most important thing you can do for your career.
    • “Put yourself before your resume.” That’s what panelist and Men’s Health Associate Editor Jason Feifer said is the most important aspect of this delicate dance you have to do to make your way. “Don’t just shove your business card at someone and say ‘call me if you’ve got something.’ You have to invest time in getting to know the person.”
    • Utilize sites like LinkedIn. They make it easy for you to network and the site will even set up the introduction for you.
  • So when you actually get around to applying for a position that person who you might just know through someone else you met over a cocktail will be able to put a face to your name or you’ll at least have a personal reference so you “float to the top,” as was continuously repeated throughout the two hour panel.
    • Always PDF. Some people may not be able to open word docs and the formatting won’t get screwed up either.
    • To Whom It May Concern should never grace your cover letter. Find out who you’re writing to, even if it’s the hiring supervisor.
    • Follow directions when you send in your resume. If the advertisement asks you to write “InStyle EA” in the subject- Do it!
    • Follow up. When all is said and done, you can get lost in the shuffle. Sending an e-mail a few days later to make sure your application was received can really help your chances and help you “float to the top.”
  • When you get the interview (positive thinking here) sending a Thank You Note can make or break your chances.
    • Create a personal connection with your interviewer. Don’t just send a bland “thanks for your time” waste of inbox space. If you want to make it count recall something unique about your interview—something that makes you stand out. According to the panel sending this life changing letter is best within 48 hours.

My vigorous note taking aside, the one thing all of these panelists seemed to have in common regardless of their medium is that they all said they entered the market during a recession. Whether it was after 9/11 or a few years before, for all of them circumstances were never easy. I personally don’t think they ever will be, but the important thing is that it’s doable. This, ladies and gents, is the source of my calm heartbeat and shit-eating grin. :D

1 comment:

  1. All of these practices can be extrapolated to ANY kind of job, not just the media. The job I got at Express? My name was put forward by a friend who had been offered the position, but couldn't work the hours. My writing gig at Express? similar deal.

    This isn't to say that it's ALL in whom you know. A positive attitude, good communication skills, and an engaging personality all go towards getting your foot in the door-regardless of the field.

    But, and I cannot stress this enough: Professionalism is key. I've personally shot down 3 candidates for positions in the last month solely because they lacked professionalism in the interview-or had emoticons in their resume.

    It's great to see you back in the writing saddle again, and I eagerly anticipate the next installment!