23 November 2014

So, you want to work in media?

Now, I know this post won't seem very legit, since at present I don't have a permanent job in the media. Let's gloss over that... But what I do have is almost one and a half year's worth of experience job searching, so I like to think I know what's what, especially when it comes to the job hunt.

And what's more, I know that this is the time of year that final year students are starting to apply for such jobs, so I'm hoping readers will appreciate my insights.

The basics
1. I'm not going to patronise you all, but of course "media" is a broad term. Think about what sector you want to work in. Are you a budding journo? Fancy yourself as the next Max Clifford (minus the recent sexual allegations against him, awks) in the PR world? Think you can rival Andy in the Devil Wear's Prada as a media heavyweight's PA? Or are you considering venturing into the publishing world a la Betty, sans poncho? 

2. Sort your CV out. Seriously. It only takes a few job descriptions to realise that "attention to detail" is an important attribute to have in the media. A serious mistake could compromise your position or at the very least, your reputation. Ensure your CV is typo-free, keep things concise, and make it easy to navigate. Most importantly, highlight why the company should take you on, not somebody else with a 2:1 BA (Hons). Find your USP (and know what a USP is - unique selling point, FYI)

3. Be prepared to play the "long game". Often it's not as straight-forward as grad schemes in this business. You'll need work experience, internships, a modest portfolio... You have to really prove you want to be doing what you're doing. With this in mind, embrace the cover letter, and don't be shy. Really emphasise your achievements, and don't use words like "quite", "sometimes", "a little bit". If you're not confident in your abilities, your potential employer won't be.

Finding the job
Here's a list of the best job sites for media jobs. Quite simply, I swear by them.

Gorkana Jobs - split between PR and Journo jobs
Time Inc Careers - email recruitmentuk@timeinc.com to register for a weekly job alert, as they aren't advertised in the main site
Guardian Jobs (media)
The Dots - this site is great for uploading your portfolio; it's designed especially for creatives
Diary Directory
LinkedIn - if you're not on LinkedIn, for goodness sake get on LinkedIn 

The Interview 
1. Dress the part. Media dress codes are generally more relaxed than corporate environments such as banking and law. However, there will always be exceptions. For example, if you're going for a PA/EA role, since you're representing a bigwig you will be expected to dress the part, so take a pair of heels (or smart, polished shoes if you're a guy). Even for smart/casual interviews, I'd stay well away from jeans, even if they are your "smart jeans". Whilst employees at the company might wear jeans, you've always got to dress that bit smarter for the interview to impress. But make sure you feel comfortable.

2. Always accept a glass of water. It implies you're prepared to be interviewed for as long as it takes, and also says "I have a lot to say, so I'll need to stay hydrated"... or something. Also a glass of water from a glass looks more professional than the old coke bottle you lug around with you (or is this just me?). Don't drink too much coffee beforehand; the adrenaline should be enough to keep you alert. Plus, no one likes coffee breath. You want to be remembered for the right reasons.

3. Stay positive, be honest, and smile. Interviews aren't fun for either side of the fence. Whilst you're trying to sell yourself, the employer is desperately looking for that special something in their candidates. Smiling will relax both parties and make you look a lot more approachable and positive, and that's important regardless of what business you're in.

4. Make sure you know your stuff. Obvious point, but make sure you know your CV and exactly what you've said in it. Make sure you know everything you can about the company and the job role. Make sure you know what you can bring to the company and the role, and what you're seeking to get out of it. It sounds simple, but you don't want to be caught out and look stupid.

5. Show off a little. It sounds shameless, but sometimes you've got to be shameless. In this ever competitive business, it doesn't hurt to shout about where you've been, what you've been up to, etc. Name drop, but don't be braggy about it. You want to sound impressive, sure, but not like you're above the position you're interviewing for. Make sense?

Make sure you ask when you can expect to hear back. If they say next week and by next week you haven't heard, follow up via telephone. Don't email. Email is for people who are too afraid to call. Plus, emails can easily be ignored or lost. A phone call, however, is begging to be answered.

Network, network, network
It really is all about who you know, not what you know. Sorry, guys.

I hope this helps! Like I said, I'm not a media guru, but I hope this can be used as a little guide for those who feel a little intimidated by the job search.

Good luck!


  1. Accepting a glass of water also gives you time to think. Take a sip just as they ask you a question and you've got a little longer to think of your answer- and if you go with them to fetch the water/tea/whatever, those few informal moments are precious for rapport building.


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