JustJob Interviews: Editor

JustJobs interviews professionals working in a variety of fields. The good folks there have given me permission to post some of their interviews here. So if you’re wondering what it’s like to work in a specific field, you might want to check in here frequently. I’ll be posting interviews as I get them.

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This Newspaper Editor shares her job search adventures, her most unforgettable interview, what mistakes she made along the way and how she finally landed the job she wanted. This and other professionals have shared their stories with us, like a Night Manager and a Housekeeper.

I work as an editor at a large daily newspaper and have been in the journalism field for over 12 years. After leaving my job at another newspaper, I searched all of the job sites and came across an ad on Monster.com for my current position. The search for this job took about six months.

The technology I used in my job search was unbelievably beneficial in finding employment in my chosen field. There are a ton of resources available to job seekers — from the job boards, to email alerts, career sites, your alumni career programs, etc., — it’s such a valuable tool that I wonder how people kept it together while searching for jobs before the Internet and job sites. The amount of resumes I sent out in my six month search was mind boggling – I can’t imagine having to physically send out hard copies to prospective employers.

If I were to apply for my current position tomorrow with a different company, I’d make myself stand out with a really well-written cover letter, something that I have overlooked in the past. I do send cover letters with my resume, but I tend to rush through them and they definitely could be more comprehensive. I’d also list my references instead of being lazy and putting “references available by request,” as a bottom footnote on my resume. If I have the references, why not take the extra time to list them? I think prospective employers take notice of cut corners.

The technologies I’ve used to connect with other professionals in my field include LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter and a few other social networking sites that are reserved for journalism professionals. The most effective at helping me find employment was Monster.com, as it had the most diverse and comprehensive job listings I’ve seen to date. While other sites, such as Craigslist and careerbuilder.com had some job listings, they didn’t come anywhere close to the amount of Monster.com.

I had a job interview last month that was a complete train wreck from start to finish. To start off, I was late to the interview because the train to Manhattan was delayed on the track for over an hour — while I had given myself more than enough time to allow for a delay, I still arrived 15 minutes late. And if that isn’t a great start to an interview, add the fact that the woman sitting next to me on the train spilled coffee on my skirt.

So, I’m late and disheveled looking (it was also pouring), and the interviewer starts his round of questions. But I’m so flustered from the events of the morning that I’m having trouble concentrating — which means I start to fidget. I play with my shirt cuffs, the hem of my skirt, and anything else that I can get my hands on. The piece de resistance was my cell phone ringing. In the chaos that was my morning, I’d forgotten to turn the ringer off. The look on the man’s face was a mixture of horror and disgust, so at that point I decided to cut my losses, apologize, and bolt from this interview. Of course, I never heard from them and I still have anxiety about that interview. NEVER be late to an interview and always, always, turn your phone off.

The single most important thing I learned about the professional job search process is that you have to have a thick skin and learn to handle rejection. When I was looking for a job in my field, there would be months where I would send out at least 60 resumes and I would not get one bite. Not one phone call or inkling of interest from any employers, and that can really get you down. I started to take it personally, but whenever I felt that way, I would start telling myself: “you have to keep things in perspective — employers aren’t rejecting you, per se, they’re just accepting other more qualified people.” Sometimes it soothed my wounded pride, other times it didn’t. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is not personal — these employers don’t know you, and it’s not one big conspiracy to keep you unemployed — which it starts to feel like after a few months of searching.

I have not used the services offered by my university’s career services program, as my school was very business-oriented and catered more to those students. Although there were services available to me, I felt it was more productive to get out there and do the leg work myself by searching the job boards, listings and networking connections I’d gathered over the years. I would probably use the services offered if I could do it again, as they have resources that most people do not have access to when searching for a job.

If I could go back and redo one event from my career it would be to leave my first job much earlier than I did. At the time, I was complacent and comfortable — although my job was not challenging anymore, it was easy and I made enough money to do the things I liked to do and cover my bills. What I should have been doing was searching for a more stimulating position that would test my skills as a journalist and editor.

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