Friday, October 3, 2008

Job hunting: Manage your online image

Over at Innovation in College Media, Angryjournalist.com founder Kiyoshi Martinez has a long and detailed post offering sharp, updated advice to journalism graduates seeking a job. (Mild language warning.)

Some excerpts (but the whole column is worth reading):

You might think you know journalism. It’s writing articles for a newspaper. Or shooting photographs. Or designing pages. Or maybe even that new media stuff people keep mentioning. Wrong. Those are skills. Knowing the business and industry means realizing the broader challenges journalism as a whole is facing.
Get a professional-sounding e-mail account that uses your real name. Get a domain name with your real name and server space to setup a homebase for yourself. Make sure it’s SEOed properly (search engine optimization, if you didn’t know that, then you should’ve Googled it). Start blogging there. Feature your new media projects and post your clips and portfolio. Keep it professional and well designed, because the idea is you want your employer to Google your name, find your site and say “... I want to hire this youngblood.”
... don’t ruin your personal branding by putting stupid photos up on Flickr and Facebook. Think before you write a drive-by comment on a blog or newspaper Web site. When you contribute to the conversation online, make sure it’s adding value, not destroying it.
When you’re in a job interview, you can be one of two people. You can say, “Well, we didn’t have blogs at our college paper,” or you can say, “We didn’t have blogs at my paper, so I decided to leave and create my own publishing network on campus.” Which candidate would you hire?

Another thought of mine on Facebook/blog comments/MySpace, et al: I've mentioned this in passing before, but I'd like to elaborate on why I suggest that job seekers should get rid of their online political diatribes -- and even more passive signs of partisanship, such as membership in "1 million against Random Candidate," friending a candidate or just displaying a slogan on your profile.

Here's why: Most journalism employers don't want their staffers being publicly identified with any party, position, issue or candidate. A lot of them specifically ban even such acts as putting a bumpersticker on your car or a yard sign up at your house, making political donations and taking part in political rallies. This has been the case at least since I got into the biz about a dozen years ago, and though I seem to hear more journalists expressing discomfort with it this year, I personally have always viewed it as part of the job.

But back to the point: When somebody who is thinking about hiring you does a search on your name, perhaps to check your clips or whatever, and comes across a profile with your political opinions branded on it, a red flag goes up. For one thing, it shows that you don't yet "get it." And obviously, if they hired you, anybody else could search and find the same information, and use it to make a case that their news organization is biased.

Now, it may not always remain this way. Mainstream American media has been experimenting somewhat with going ahead and declaring its biases, and someday strictures like this may seem antiquated. But for right now, if you want to get a job at one of those mainstream orgs, you should know this is a red flag for employers. And if this is totally unpalatable to you, there is a growing number of alternate kinds of employers. So you've got options.

For me, I honestly believe there's a positive effect to requiring journalists to remember that they're not supposed to display bias publicly. It creates a working environment, in somewhat the same way that either requiring employees to dress up or allowing them to dress down does. Just my 2 cents.


Raymond said...

Despite the stats, I still see high paying jobs posted on employment sites -

www.linkedin.com (networking)
www.indeed.com (aggregated listings)
www.realmatch.com (matches you to jobs)

good luck to all those searching for jobs.