Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mitchel Stevens’ Guide to Employment and the Interview

Editor's Note: The following column is part of an anonymous weekly humor column chronicling the struggle of a new, young journalist out in the working world. You may find the author's previous posts in the archives. --The Ed.

I was checking my Gmail for the fifteenth time in 20 minutes when it occurred to me that I should be taking more time with my interviews. Perhaps I should prepare with a list, or some similar device where all my questions and fears will be answered.

Wait, oh no, I just totally forgot the AP rules on numbers! AHHHHH!!!!

Moving on, The Editorialiste was kind enough to pass along to me an email from his alma mater about tips for networking and—wait, meeting every single editor from the New York area? Huh?

Come meet, mingle and munch with editors, producers and others. Chat about how to pitch freelance articles, get production work (or other opportunities) at places like Metro, Time Out New York, Essence magazine, Dan Rather Reports, Brooklyn Rail, NY1 News, Manhattan Media properties, Black Enterprise, Budget,, Details magazine, Village Voice, Chelsea Now, Moose Productions and more.”

Oh my stars and garters, AND there’s no RSVP needed? AND I need to be a student there?

Well, a pox on that. Especially when it seems like that silly J-Dept can’t even keep up with their original class load.

Well, let me see. What are the suggestions to make an impact?

  • Make One Great Contact -- Don't feel compelled to "work the room." Instead, set a goal of making one great contact -- someone new who you commit to communicating with after the event. Remember to ask for a business card.

Oh, I can do this one! I once got someone’s business card after I spent the night playing dice with them and doing a shot of Goldschläger.

  • Reach Out -- Approach an individual who is standing alone. They may appreciate your reaching out to them. Also, it's hard to break into a group unless you're invited.

Okay, be nice to the freak. Got it. So this means AM NY, Metro and The L Magazine, or Dan Rather’s company?

  • Use a Neutral Ice-Breaker -- Begin each conversation with a smile, eye contact and an outstretched hand. Break the ice by asking a neutral open-ended question such as "Why did you decide to come to this event?"

“Do you like liquor? I have a flask.”

This is the true way into any journalist’s heart. Don’t ever forget it.

  • Give First -- Focus your conversation on learning about the person you are meeting -- who they are, where they work, what their responsibilities include -- and how you can help them (not how they can help you).

…well, this is a bold-faced lie. And in bold in the original e-mail. Fitting.

  • Follow-up -- Use the 48-hour rule. Within 48 hours of a networking event, follow-up with anyone you met who you'd like to stay in touch with. Send an email letting the other person know you enjoyed meeting them and hope you will meet again. In the same email, share any other information you think may be of help to them (for example your resume and clips or more details about a story idea you mentioned.)

Wow, how true! If only journalists weren’t so awful about following up to young urchins that will knife them in the back at the first chance they get in order to steal their job, get a book deal and then sleep with Nick Denton*.

Yes, thanks to these new rules, I will be rolling in more jobs than an analogy about a large number. I’ll be wearing feather boas and strutting around 30 Rock in no time. Why…oh, crap, I got to turn in by deadline. Till next time.


*Note: I mean, listen, how else do you think you work at Gawker? It’s like Mr. Show says: the world revolves around blowjobs. And mainly giving them to Nick Denton. Or Jason Calcanis. And yes, David Hauslaib, but that doesn’t mean anything. More likely, it just means you’ve met David Hauslaib.


Anonymous said...

Nice post but remember, there are two sides to every story. I'll make three points for now.
1. Most recruiters actually don't hire, we recruit potential hires. If you go to a recruiting event whether at your name-brand school or a conference or at the National Guard Armory, I would get a few cards, not a ton. I see a lot desperation at recruiting events from people who waited until the last minute to start looking for a job.
2. If you go to a recruiting event and someone at the event actually does hire people, take their card but do not expect to hear back from them. If you do hear back, schedule an "informational" interview. No pressure on both sides BUT be on your game regardless of how the meeting is titled. Speaking only for me, If you write and I don't write back, I forgot or literally went on vacation. Send me another.
3.The best people to recruit for a company are the employees of the company who actually do the jobs that need to be filled. I lead projects and we experiment with the latest audio and visual technologies on our projects. Our project teams consist of working professionals who also want to be out front and help young people find their way. If you go to an event, find someone who does the work and ask if they wouldn't mind showing your around the company, staying in touch via e-mail. No phone calls please. Can't tell you how many times we've got a project "in da house," and no student who is looking for work talks to us. They think "Oh, you're radio." We're a MEDIA company ok?
4. (I said three but...) I have two cliches but they work; don't put all your eggs in one basket and then, don't give up.

Doug Mitchell

Adam said...

Networking is exactly like dating. All same unspoken rules and protocols apply. This is probably why I'm so bad at it.