In my Participatory Journalism class this week, we’ll be talking about how to get a job. We’ll start tomorrow with some basics of cover letters, resumes and interviewing. (Guests are welcome — we’ll be in Lee Hills 101A from 12-1:15.) Overall, though, the theme of the discussion will be about how we tell stories about ourselves — how we craft the narrative about ourselves that we want people to experience.
Here’s a smaller, curated list of the best ones for new grads. I made it last summer when I was teaching at the Poynter College Fellowship program.
So, what’s your story? Is it consistent across platforms? Do you have the quick version ready to go in case you find yourself in an elevator with your dream employer and have seven floors to make an impression? Do you have a longer one that makes for a killer cover letter? Do you have details to back it up for the interview conversation?
Have you properly investigated what prospective employers will learn about you online? Do you make it easy for them to the find the things you most hope they’ll find? (Too much emphasis is placed on fancy portfolios, I think. Often, a site like about.me and some nice delicious links of or about your work function nicely. And check out this fantastic use of Storify by @scottrocketship to showcase skills, availability and personality.
Have you made it clear what someone will get if they hire you? I’m not talking about just skills. What would your last boss say about you? Do you have a fantastic ability to solve technical problems? A way of listening that makes you a good collaborator? An efficiency that means you have time for continued learning? What’s your outlook? What are you like to work with? What energy will you bring to the position? What’s your story?
Julia Thompson, a Mizzou grad now at the Des Moines Register, visited the Missourian newsroom a few weeks ago. She said something I loved: hire for attitude, teach for skill. I’ve written before about what it takes to succeed on my team, and no one who works with me would be surprised to hear me say that attitude, work ethic and follow-through are more valuable to me than innate ability or talent.
I go back periodically to this fantastic New York Times interview with HSN Inc. CEO, Mindy Grossman. She lays out the kind of culture she hopes to nurture. She talks about how she asks prospective employees about their interests, values and risk-taking. Then she says that she hires only Tiggers, no Eeyores.
There are a number of things that are really important to me. One — and people laugh that I have this philosophy — is that you only hire Tiggers. You don’t hire Eeyores. It doesn’t mean they have to be loud, but I need energy-givers and I have to get a feeling that this person is going to be able to inspire people. Are they going to be optimistic about where they’re going? Are they going to attract people who are like that?
This certainly doesn’t mean that everyone has to be a bouncy extrovert. (As a natural extrovert, I learned a lot from this great Wired piece about the power of introverts.) It does mean, though, that the vibe you give off needs to be one of optimism and energy, not excuses and out clauses.
So please, be a Tigger.