Covering Coronavirus: Tips, best practices and programs

Job hunting? Advice for mid-career journalists

Mid-career professionals looking for journalism jobs during the pandemic should take heart, career experts said. Is it a challenging market? Yes. But prepared, adaptable, creative applicants will stand out. 

Be prepared. Start by updating your online portfolio or resume. Then take some time to reflect on what you really want.

“Now is the time to be honest with yourself about what you want in a job,” said Damon Kiesow, Knight Chair in digital editing and producing at the Missouri School of Journalism. “Make a list of what cities or states you want to work in, what daily tasks make you happiest, what skills do you want to be focusing on learning more about and what you want to be doing in three years. You will not find the perfect job, but that is the high standard you should measure each opportunity against.”

“If you are considering changing careers, research the new position and then conduct an inventory of your transferable skills to determine how to apply them in the new field,” said Michael Wong, director of career services at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “Part of the research into a new career will involve networking with those who are working in the field. Through networking, you can determine what they like/dislike about the field and what level of education and training is needed to enter into and succeed in this new career.”

Build your network. Reach out to your college and alumni networks. “Stay in touch with classmates, professors,” Wong said. “Show them your material and solicit feedback.”

Suzanne Alcantara, assistant dean of student affairs at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, advises thinking beyond a job. “There is no better time to be volunteering for a favorite cause — give back to the community while developing new skills, and connections can be a win for all involved,” she said.

Be adaptable. “It’s so important to be flexible and creative when looking for jobs right now,” said Alison Young, Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Journalism and Washington Program Director at the Missouri School of Journalism. “Look for a journalism position where you can do good work, build your skills and portfolio, and serve a community. That might mean working in a smaller market than you had hoped for.”

Learn a new skill. “During a slow time of hiring, you can learn a new skill or take an existing skill to a higher level by taking a class or enrolling in a certificate program,” Wong said. “Yes, you will have to pay something for this additional education, but the small investment will make you more skilled and more marketable.”

Get creative. “If you can’t get a journalism job, look for a position that uses your journalism skills: writing, photography, video, research, analysis and communication,” Young said. “You will be gaining experience that will help position you for when there is more hiring.”

“Readjust expectations and consider adjacent industries,” said Alcantara. “Journalists specifically would be a tremendous asset to the nonprofit world, creating compelling content and storytelling that would have direct impact on communities in need.”

Stay positive. “If you can make it through this job market, you’ll be more successful in the long run because our industry is prone to huge shifts in the landscape,” said American University Professor Jeremiah Patterson, incoming director of the School of Communication weekend MA program in journalism and digital storytelling. “Wherever traditional jobs may shrink, others may evolve.”


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