Journalists are great at telling stories, often right up until the point of telling their OWN story.
When it comes to getting a job, it’s vitally important to be able to craft your own narrative. Prospective employers don’t just want to know what you’ve done, where you’ve worked and what you’ve covered. They should be able to learn:
What you stand for or believe in. Why do you get out of bed in the morning? What kind of work keeps you going?
What you’re like as a person and a colleague. How would your coworkers describe you? What’s your energy level? How do you collaborate?
All of this of course is leading to …
What you would be like as an employee. What would you bring to their team, beyond the skills listed on your resume and reflected in your portfolio? A very smart editor told a newsroom full of students last year that she likes to hire for attitude, then teach for skill. (I wrote about her in this previous job-hunting post, along with similar advice to be an Tigger, not an Eeyore, which might be my all-time favorite.)
One of my favorite examples of a job hunter creating his own narrative is this use of Storify by @scottrocketship, in which I get a sense of what he does, what he’s good at and who he is.
(If you’re looking for more job-hunting links, you’ll find the highlights I used in this year’s class here.)
So, when I talk to my students about personal branding and how they sell themselves, we talk about the consistent narrative they need to make sure their online identities project. We talk about the importance of energy and personality. We talk about how a cover letter needs to be more than a description of what’s in their resumes.
And we talk about what would happen if they found themselves in an elevator with someone who had a job they were dying to get.
With that in mind, I made the students in my Participatory Journalism class make “why you should hire me” pitch videos. I think they’d say the experience was both awkward and helpful. It was totally contrived — conversations like this usually happen a bit more organically, with less you talking directly at them for 60 to 90 seconds.
But the exercise was useful, I think. It at least made them think about what they would want to highlight about themselves.
Five brave and kind students agreed to let me share their pitch videos publicly. Give them a shoutout in the comments. Even better? Leave feedback or job offers!
And away we go …