Credit: James Ashworth

Job hunting is particularly hard at the moment. Although news consumption is on the up and there is no shortage of issues to report on, newsrooms' finances have been hit by the pandemic and hiring has slowed down. 

But it is not all bad news. Some newly trained journalists are still entering the industry through internships, graduate schemes or entry level jobs. 

James Ashworth, who graduated with a Masters degree in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London in June, has secured his first journalism job in the midst of a global pandemic. Since the end of July, he is covering local news in Hampshire for the Andover Advertiser and Basingstoke Gazette

He spoke to Journalism.co.uk about how he got the job and shares his top tips for other newly trained journalists looking for work. 

Apply, apply, apply 

Ashworth, who has been job hunting since March, has set up LinkedIn alerts for any journalism or reporter jobs.

"You’ve got to keep applying," he says, encouraging aspiring journalists to persevere even if they do not have all the required skills listed in a job advert. 

"If you can convince them that you are the best candidate for the job even if you don't quite have all the skills that they were initially looking for that's not necessarily a bad thing." 

While it is good to set your sights high, Ashworth said it is important to consider every opportunities, be it work experience or a job.

"It's very hard and quite rare that you will be able to start at the top and stay there, you've just got to be open to whatever you can find," he says. 

Selling yourself

Ashworth application for the role at the Andover Advertiser required a 150-word personal profile where he bullet-pointed his experience.

"I wasn’t saying that I am the perfect package right now, but that I think I've got a lot of the skills that you want, and I'm hoping that with you I'll be able to develop that a bit more," he says. 

Ashworth had done work experience with publications such as Bristol Post, the Mirror and specialist film publications and covered local news for his Masters but had not done any internships. 

"The thing with journalism is that you do have to learn by doing it but I think I had enough knowledge and experience which did help," he says. 

Proper preparation

Ashworth said he looked up Andover Advertiser and Basingstoke Gazette before the interview, reading articles from the two papers. He also researched the history and major employers and then came up with some pitches.

"When I got the interview that turned out to be really useful," he says. 

"There is definitely a degree of luck involved, but as ever, preparation goes a long way."

His final piece of advice? Do not be disheartened by the job rejections and lack of responses. 

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