Tips on how to job hunt effectively as a journalist

Job hunting is no easy task! Searching for jobs, re-drafting CVs, researching companies, completing pre-interview tasks, preparing for interviews – sometimes it all can feel like a full-time job in itself! It is therefore important that you use your time effectively and efficiently to get the most out of the time you set aside. 

Before the pandemic hit, I worked as a freelance travel writer for a blog and also worked in a coffee shop to subsidise my income as a journalism student. However, as lockdown happened and the need for both baristas and travel writers suddenly vanished, I found myself with no job and was thrown back into the world of job hunting. It wasn’t easy, but the months and months of dedication and perseverance were worth it in that I now am working within the journalism industry again. Not only did my hard work pay off, but spending so much time applying for jobs during a pandemic, also taught me how to job hunt effectively as a young journalist. Today, I thought I would share some of my experiences and tips with you, to make your job hunting experience that little bit easier:

Get in the right headspace:

Job hunting can have an emotional toll and make you doubt your abilities – I get it! After several months of applying, rejections, and no success I often questioned whether I had what it takes for some opportunities – despite having all the skills listed in the job description. To apply for jobs effectively, it’s important that you do not hold yourself back. Some advice given to me by a working journalist was something I now always try to say to myself: 

If you don’t believe that you will get the role, despite your abilities making you a suitable candidate, someone else who does believe in themselves likely will – even if they potentially are less suited to the role than you. 

Try and think positively, approach each application as the opportunity for you, and give each application your total focus. If you do get knocked back from opportunities, don’t try to dwell on these rejections too much. Instead, use them as a learning opportunity. Look at what you can change about your CV, things you said during an interview, or types of roles you are applying for. If you want some tips on how to stay motivated, be sure to read our blog post on how to handle rejection. 

Create a schedule and stick to it - both for job hunting and taking breaks:

Job hunting does take up a good chunk of your time. Just like it is with other tasks, it is important that you schedule and organise your time to make it work best for you. I, for example, noticed that I work best in the mornings. I would get up early, work on CVs and cover letters for jobs I found previously, and then normally leave tasks like scrolling for other opportunities for the afternoon – but everybody is different!

Find a routine that works for you and stick to it. Things will seem much easier when you have dedicated time set aside (and when there’s an end in sight). It is also important to take breaks and plan other activities. Job hunting needs a positive mindset and if you overwork yourself while job-hunting, you can easily end up feeling burnt out. Make sure you have a ‘cut off’ time each day, some time for lunch, to go for a walk, and to meet friends. Again, it is up to you how much time you want to dedicate. Just make sure you find a good balance between both job hunting and recharging your batteries.

Utilise different tools to help you stay organised:

Thankfully there are so many tools which can help make your workflow easier and quicker these days. I would always recommend using things like calendar apps to set reminders for deadlines and your phone to set alarms for when it is time to take a break. Another thing I found very valuable was to add emails of editors that said they would be happy to be contacted about work experience (Twitter is a good place to find these!) to my address book. Excel is also a great way to keep track of what you have been doing. I had a spreadsheet for opportunities I found online so I could sort them by application due date and apply later, and a spreadsheet with people I could potentially contact for work experience. I also set up a spreadsheet to track where I applied and for what opportunity, when I applied in case I wanted to send a follow up, whether I got feedback, and a link to my tailored CV and cover letter for that application. 

Network with other journalists:

Speaking with other journalists regularly cannot just help you be on people’s radar for when opportunities come up for which they keep you in mind. It also makes you more aware and in the loop about events happening in the journalism industry, which can often actually help you find more opportunities that otherwise are not advertised as much. I attended events by the Scotsman newspaper and News UK that I discovered through networking with others – both of which were really insightful for my job hunting process. Additionally, networking can also give you that moral support you need to stay motivated. Journalism is a hard, competitive sector to break into, but the journalism community is actually very welcoming. Chances are that someone will know exactly what you are going through right now. So don’t feel scared to reach out!

Expand your job search to think ‘outside the box’

There are many dedicated websites to help you find a job within the media industry. However, it’s also worth expanding beyond these sites and your usual ‘job hunting patch.’ Maybe you have a specialism you are particularly interested in, or an organisation whose ethos particularly appeals to you. Try finding websites that specialise in the things that you are interested in, as they might be advertising roles there that are not on usual job searching sites, meaning you could have a smaller pool of competitors in the application process. Something else that is important to consider, is what transferable skills you have that match opportunities that might not be entirely in the field you originally aimed for but could still help you in your preferred industry later. Applying, and gaining experience through such opportunities could help you to then break into the industry later.

Job hunting isn’t easy, but I hope that these insights help you on your job hunt. If you stay organised and use your time effectively, things will get easier. And remember: Hard work does pay off. In the meantime, it is just important to keep going! 

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