As a result of that post, which appeared on Poynter.com's Romenesko, I was inundated with comments, equal parts scathing and helpful (You can still read all the comments -- they remain below that post -Ed.).
In response, I wrote "Responding To Romenesko: Thoughts On Your Comments" to clarify my situation, which brought forth another deluge of comments, this time a bit more helpful than the first batch (that post also was picked up by Romenesko).
It occurred to me recently that I, regretfully, have neglected to update the story since that post. That's not fair to you readers, who put energy into reading all those words (and writing those comments). So I'd like to give you an update.
My "Responding" post was written July 31, and I spent most of August interviewing in New York City, as I promised I would do, while working temporarily at a large magazine company (One that has since laid off hundreds of people, including at the title I was working at -Ed.). I had several applications in various states by mid-month, with several interviews under my belt that were still moving forward. I took several edit tests, interviewed all over the city and completely wore out my suit.
Then the economy began to collapse.
My luck changed in the final weeks of August, when a job that I had been working part-time at for several months (in addition to my full-time, but temporary, magazine gig) decided to extend me an offer.
Then I informed the other places at which I was still under consideration that I would be taking the offer. A bit of song and dance ensued with one job prospect that I had gone deep into the process with (A job at a company that several commenters said could and would never happen -Ed.), but when it became clear that they weren't able to produce an offer in time, the search was officially over.
So where does that leave me? I can't say where I work outright, since I decided when I began this blog that I would try to leave my work life out of the picture. What I can say is that I work in the online branch of a major, big-name mainstream media organization wearing three hats: editor, producer, blogger. I make a solid salary that makes it possible for me to live in New York and pay off my student loans, and I work in an environment that matches what I value in a workplace.
If you search Google, it's not hard to find me. I'll leave it at that.
But am I happy? You bet.
Here's what I learned from the whole process:
- Send in applications everywhere you think you've got a shot -- then prove it to each company in your application. It's worth the time to tailor your application, even if you never hear back.
- When you've sent out all that you can, send more. I can't stress this enough. The job search becomes exhausting, but you must persist.
- Contact friends and mentors and coworkers not for jobs, but for advice. Very few actually can and have jobs to offer you, but everyone has a wealth of experience on how they got where they are today.
- Tell everyone that you're looking. I had several friends, not all of them close, regularly send me jobs they came across. Some I had seen, some I hadn't, but those morning e-mails were a great pick-me-up when things felt grim.
- Take a break. The job search is nerve-wracking because it feels as though fate is closing in on you as your funds for living run out. Don't go a day without sending an application somewhere, but don't go a day without smiling. The whole job search is an internalized affair, like a tea kettle nearing boil. So make sure you get out of the house and see friends. Or go to the gym. Mental health is important at this time.
- Take people's advice with a grain of salt, but listen. As a journalist, this goes without saying. I received a ton of contradictory comments in the two posts I wrote, but what I gained most from the whole affair is that people are listening (I even received a freelance offer). Use that momentum as inspiration to keep applying places.
- Keep your online presence up-to-date. I received lots of comment when I changed my LinkedIn status message to "Looking for a job."
- If you get rejected, politely ask why. I was rejected for a position that I thought I had a particularly good shot at; turns out that with so many job layoffs, the publication was overwhelmed with overqualified applicants. So I replied and asked what I could have done better as an applicant. The editor was kind enough to answer in specifics why I didn't make the cut, and encouraged me that I was a solid applicant who was just blown away by the circumstances. She also offered to take my pitches for stories, which would have been important had I not taken my current position. Remember -- editors know what it's like, and more often than not, they'll relate!
And finally, when it comes to the actual job: negotiate that salary.
Once you're settled in, don't forget to repay the favor to your friends by helping them find jobs or listings. With this recession as it is, I can't tell you how many friends ended up on the job hunt after I finally finished mine.