Job searching is a long, painstaking process and getting to an interview alone can be difficult.
When crafting an application, use the job description as a guide for how to fill the daunting blank space on an application form, advises Daniell Morrisey, a careers expert and senior editorial early careers schemes manager at the BBC. He suggests using the bullet points or list in the job description as "a set of questions or a set of headings."
"Think about how you would pitch a story and then how you would pitch yourself," he says. Although many applications require a CV, you need to really "pull out all the stuff that’s relevant to this vacancy" and refer back to the job description.
Think about how you would pitch a story and then how you would pitch yourself.Daniell Morrisey
Researching the job and the organisation is vital. "A real howler that you see in a lot of applications is where people haven’t done that research and don’t appear to understand what the content for that particular organisation is. You want to show your passion for this job so make it really clear that you are interested in the job you’re applying for."
He also notes that employers want ideas, so highlighting the content you have produced in the past or pitching a few ideas to them is a good way of "showing that you understand the publication and that you have got the ideas and creativity that would help them."
Dealing with rejection
The only thing worse than being totally ghosted is receiving an impersonal rejection. Anna Wallace, a recent journalism graduate who lives in Edinburgh, said that "your heart just sinks whenever you receive an email that is so automated it’s unreal." Sometimes the company is just looking for a very specific person though so do not take it too personally.
Morrisey suggested that you should follow up unsuccessful applications and ask for feedback, but warns against being defensive or demanding too much. Organisations often get many such requests, despite often not directly offering feedback. "Treat it as a networking opportunity, it is a chance to make another new contact."
What else can I do?
Past experience is often a key requirement for journalism jobs. If you have holes in your career, publishing content yourself is often the best course. According to Morrisey, it does not matter if it is not produced in a professional setting; staying creative while unemployed shows that you are passionate about a topic and it gives you the opportunity to show your skills.
Wallace has done just that. She has created an online music and arts blog called ‘The Scratched Record’ that also features guest writers. As the editor of the site, she keeps her journalistic skills sharp and she gets positive feedback when applying for jobs.
News organisations are looking for diverse, different, unique voices.Daniell Morrisey
Networking is another important way to boost your career.
"A lot of jobs are not advertised," says Morrisey. "The majority of freelance work isn’t advertised, so networking is your door to opportunity."
The same goes for mentoring. In addition to schemes, like the one provided by The John Schofield Trust, you can contact someone whose work you admire and, "if it feels like it’s going in the right way, you might ask them if they would be open to some mentoring," advises Morrisey.
Newsrooms are waking up to the idea that their teams must reflect the communities that make up their audience. With a diverse workforce come new ways of thinking, new stories and angles, different opinions and every newsroom needs that, noted Morrisey.
He encourages applicants to be open about their background as "news organisations are looking for diverse, different, unique voices" and often, when applying, it is about being authentic and showing creativity.
There are several schemes out there to help people from diverse backgrounds into journalism jobs.
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