Over the past three weeks of job hunting, I’ve learned about a thousand and one things NOT to do while on the quest to employment. For instance: don’t use an email with a number in it, don’t ramble on, don’t forget to change the name each cover letter is addressed to, don’t forget to insert links to your past work, and DON’T EVER FORGET TO SPELL CHECK — I sent in many cover letters with the word “knowledgeable” spelled “knowledgable.” I still haven’t lived down that embarrassment.
So you can imagine how in my first hours of unemployment I panicked. Well actually, the first hours of unemployment involved numerous gin and tonics that were quickly followed by panicking. So, in an effort to alleviate your fears and questions, I’ve gathered together the top five pieces of job hunting advice that I received from former editors and writers during my time of dismay. Follow just one piece or reap the rewards of all five points, but I promise all the hardwork you put in now will be greatly rewarded in the future.
5. Clean up your social media accounts.
The last thing you want is your future employer establishing their first impress of you off of your drunken Vegas pictures instead of your interview. If you wouldn’t show it to your priest or rabbi or grandmother or father, scrap them.
4. Set yourself apart as a multimedia journalist by staying active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
One of my former editors — who has made a name for herself at NPR and MSNBC — recently shared with me that in order to establish yourself as a prominent journalist in today’s digital media obsessed world, you MUST be active on all social media platforms. So, although you promised yourself you would never engage in that thing called “tweeting,” it is time to bite the bullet and not only open up a Twitter account, but a Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram as well. By being active on these accounts, you will begin to garner a loyal following of readers who will continue sharing your work around the world wide web.
3. Give your portfolio some personality by creating an original blog that shows off your hobbies, thoughts and literary projects.
When you are hired to write for a publication, your writing often becomes focused around one topic such as news, sports, lifestyle, fashion or dog shows. But what about your other literary interests? By creating a personal blog, you are carving out a niche for yourself on the internet, and in turn, giving your future employees insight into your personality and the issues you’re passionate about. Some wonderful examples include Notes From A Coffee Shop — created by MSNBC’s Digital Producer Traci G. Lee as a place to discuss all things from current events to poignant life moments — and Michael Is A Writer — a blog that captures the stories of New York’s famous subway musicians.
2. Archive everything.
I admit, this part is the worst, but it has to be done. Put on your favorite CD, pour yourself a large glass of ice tea and set to work archiving ALL of your work. If some of your articles have been published online, I recommend you save them to your desktop as a web file. Beforehand, go through and delete all page breaks from your articles in order to save the web article as a whole instead of in segments. To make sure everything is saving properly, turn off your wifi and click on the saved links to see if they still load.
1. Create a digital portfolio or website to share with future editors.
With all your articles saved, now is time for the fun stuff (not really, but you’re almost done so hang with me)! For your online portfolio, I recommend using WordPress or Tumblr to keep things simple and free. I’ve linked my own portfolio here, and as you can see, I broke my portfolio into four categories: background, contact information, Voices Story Project and exerts of my writing. In my background section, I also made it easy for interested employers to find out more about me by providing direct links to my website, Twitter, blog and Linked. I would also recommend creating a website for yourself that employers can easily navigate. I used Flavors.me to create my account and found the process to be relatively painless.
Writers, I am crossing my fingers for each and every one, and as my mum tells me before every interview, “Take luck!”