As working from home became widespread during the pandemic, media recruiters have changed the way they think about assembling their future teams.
The main challenge is to strike the right balance between keeping the staff safe and fostering good communication, creativity and collaboration in the newsroom. Employers now also need to accommodate demands for flexible working while making sure newly hired staff get proper training.
Although many journalists have found working from home convenient, some felt the impact of isolation on their productivity and mental health. And with many employees now returning to physical newsrooms, these conflicting needs impact the job market.
To get the best of both worlds, most publishers now have a flexible or hybrid working policy that combines days in the office with working from home. How work is organised often shapes recruiters’ decisions around hiring new people. By the same token, journalists can be tempted to leave their organisations when flexible working is not an option and seek opportunities better suited to their newly found work-life balance.
But getting the hybrid working model right is tough. Martin Cloake is head of editorial delivery at Capital.com and he said that, as a global business with many teams working remotely, his company is still figuring out the optimal policy.
"The younger and less experienced staff want to come to the office and soak up the experience but the more senior staff often wants to stay home," he says. The maths clearly does not add up and imposing a mandatory number of days in the office could be the way forward, according to Kevin Delaney, co-founder of Charter.
Perhaps the most important impact of remote working is that the pool of talent has grown since people can now live and work in completely different places without the need to commute. This has benefitted many companies who often struggled to recruit in their region pre-pandemic. On the flip side, job seekers can now choose from a much wider array of companies and retention has become harder.
Working from home can also reduce presenteeism - when staff turn up for work despite not feeling up to it, and are as a result not productive. Some employees however do need the structure of coming into the office, says co-founder and executive chairman of GRV Media Vic Daniels.
Despite this new hybrid working landscape and challenges around remote management, the fundamental skills that media employers look for have not really changed.
Graduate and entry-level jobs
For the best part of 2020, the pandemic has wiped out work placements and internships opportunities that are so important for journalism students. Without this first experience, many hesitate to apply for graduate jobs or are unsure of what to put on their CVs.
Cloake recommends illustrating skills and experience with concrete examples when replying to a job advert. It does not matter whether you wrote an article for a newspaper, set up your own blog or started a TikTok account. Showing that you have done something extra during the pandemic proves that you are a self-starter, you can think laterally and are result-oriented.
GRV Media rolled out virtual internships to help budding journalists hone their skills, while at the same time scouting new talent. According to Daniels, several junior employees joined the company after completing a "try-before-you-buy" work experience.
But the main skills that the media companies are looking for are the same as before: understanding what makes a good story, how to find and present it in different formats, and knowing what makes content stick.
Daniels added that it is also important for junior employees to understand the current media landscape and mainstay practices like search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media content creation.
Like many publishers, Capital.com is looking to up its game in areas like cryptocurrencies, NFTs and other emerging tech. Do not get discouraged if you know little about these topics, what matters is that you have a nose for the story and can produce engaging content.
Mid-level and senior roles
With a flurry of redundancies and newsroom closures during the pandemic, many journalists have gaps in their CVs they may feel uncomfortable about.
"If you lost your job, you are not going to be penalised," says Cloake, adding that he looks at how people dealt with crises. For instance, even if you went on doing something unconnected to journalism, it shows you are a problem-solver.
Daniels looks for achievements and examples of how you added value in your previous job. Maybe you contributed to the company profit or improved user experience. Show it and do not hesitate to draw attention to your achievements.
When you get to the job interview, ask about the employer’s management style, do your homework to make sure you understand the company, and do not be afraid to challenge your recruiter.
"People need to realise that it is not an interview but a business meeting," says GVR Media’s global head of recruitment Matt Honey.
"You come to discuss two things: the business and you."
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