Recently, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about getting jobs in the ‘media’ (whatever that means these days) and similar questions and problems seem to be raised each time.
Not only are they difficult to answer, but due to the ever-shifting media landscape, job cuts, uncertainty, and competitive nature of the sector, they are almost impossible to answer succinctly.
So, in the spirit of sharing, I’ve decided to attempt to address a couple of the issues I’ve come across and crowdsource some answers if possible. So, have a quick read, and leave any suggestions in the comments.
Questions, questions, questions
Here are a few questions I’ve been asked:
- Should I work for free to gain experience?
- Should I apply for a lower role and work my way up?
- I want to do something creative, what jobs are out there?
- Should I go back to uni/do some training?
- Who should I talk to about… ?
And so on.
Asking questions is a great habit to get into. Unfortunately, you have to get used to the answer: ‘There is no answer”.
This is incredibly frustrating, for me as much as it is for job seekers, as it seems like a cop out. The truth is, it’s not that there isn’t an answer, but that there isn’t a single answer, and any answer you give will be contradicted a thousand times before you’ve finished giving it.
That said, there are a few things I would do to increase my chances. It’s not definitive, not guaranteed to work, and not necessarily the best route. Just what I’d do if I had to do it.
- Get a job, any job, if at all possible. Just for the cash and to fill CV holes
- Decide on a ‘goal’ – a job or industry to work in
- Research – use LinkedIn, blogs, company websites, friends… anything
- Tidy and hone my CV, LinkedIn, Twitter/Facebook bios, etc
- Go to events (social and industry), and generally be ‘seen’ around the place as an interested person
- Talk to people, be friendly and helpful
- Ask to meet employers for advice, and be well prepared when you do get to chat to them
- Do relevant training if available at no great personal expense
- Do something off your own back. Start a blog or website, build a portfolio, organise an event
- Volunteer at other events
- Try to arrange informal meetings with employers to ask for advice
- Use social media platforms to make connections – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn…
- Get a work experience placement (no more than a month, less preferably)
- Follow job sites, check newspapers (often overlooked) and apply for jobs as they arise
I could go on, but that would be boring.
When I was looking for a new job (while I was a business journalist and wanted to do something more creative), all of these things were helpful on some level. But the main thing was having been active in the area that I wanted to work in.
I’d been to plenty of events, wrote free music reviews for Brum Live regularly, started Film Forum West Midlands with some friends, met people for advice, and I used Twitter and LinkedIn. I’d also been making things and promoting my work with Dice Productions and started running Popcorn Comedy.
Not tooting my horn or anything, but I really believe without all of these ‘extra-curricular’ bits I wouldn’t now have a job in an area I’m more than happy to be working in. Of course, you could get a job without all this.
If you’ve got any tips for aspiring media types, or are one yourself, please drop a comment below and share your experience.