By Ashleigh Swan, WIJ intern

Nobody said it was going to be easy. The journalism job market can be particularly daunting and this year’s pandemic makes it even more challenging. At Women in Journalism, we want to help you have the best chance of getting a job, so our recent online meet-up was all about tips for graduates and entry-level journalists. Chaired by Hilly Janes, associate lecturer in journalism at London College of Communications and head of events and mentoring for WIJ, the panel included Sue Ryan, head of the Daily Mail graduate scheme; Jem Collins; founder of Journo Resources and Stuart Thomas, jobs board manager at Cision Jobs.

“Journalism is 35% skill, 65% attitude. You have to be prepared to work hard and put your social life on hold”

If you want to be a successful journalist you will have to work for it. You need to be prepared to work long hours. If you don’t have the right attitude you won’t progress. You need to show people that you want to be there.

“Make sure that you understand what you are applying for”
Sue Ryan advised it is vital when applying for a particular job to really understand the role. Research the company in-depth, read their content and learn what they are all about. 

“You have to be realistic about what you are applying for”

Only you know your full capability as a journalist. Do not apply for jobs that are not in your reach. Be prepared to be small before being big. 

“Whatever you do, do not make mistakes on applications”
A simple but important tip. Jem Collins warned that an error such as spelling someone’s name incorrectly could penalise you in the application process. Before you send your application off, triple-check that spelling and grammar are correct. 

“Show that you haven’t just woken up and decided to become a journalist” 

Stuart Thomas emphasised the importance of catering your CV to what you are applying for. Take your time writing it and adapt it to the job spec you are applying for. 

“Sub-editing is a great way to get into the industry” 

If you enjoy the craft of writing and have a good eye for detail, sub-editing is an overlooked way of getting into the business and working your way up the production chain to an editor’s role. 

“When employers ask for experience it doesn’t necessarily mean in the newsroom. 

Jem Collins’ advice was that even if you haven’t had experience in a newsroom, draw on what else you have done and have the confidence to showcase that.

“When you are with other journalists, always make an impression” 

Networking and getting to know people are essential skills. When you are around other journalists, get to know them and don’t leave a conversation wishing you had said more. You never know who can help you in the future. Sign up for job boards like JournoResources and Cision Jobs. Join media networks, and while real-life events are off-limits, join online media Q&A sessions, Facebook groups; post on social media and LinkedIn.

“Now is a good time to add another string to your bow”

Covid-19 took everyone by surprise and has left many of us at home trying to occupy ourselves. Use this time to expand your portfolio. Take an online course about a specialisation or new skill, write content for your blog, read new publications, and diversify yourself as a journalist. 

“Even brilliant people get rejected” 

You are going to get rejected, everyone does, but that doesn’t mean that you should give up. Keep pushing and figure out how you can improve. Look at your CV and see what can be improved. Try and get feedback from the companies that you apply to. Never stop trying. 

Here’s what some of the participants said about the session:

“Joined the very affirming WIJ call on Mid/Entry journalism. Very reassuring to know that there’s tools and advice to help at this difficult time. Would recommend joining if you’re in a similar position.” 

“Thank you WIJ for hosting such a brilliant webinar today. And thanks to Sue Ryan and Jem Collins for answering my question about the chicken-and-egg scenario of wanting to get experience in the media but needing to get experience to get that experience. It was super helpful” 

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