There are no jobs in journalism. This is almost 100% true. To (loosely) quote Rob Attar speaking at a Media Course earlier this year:
“To get a job in journalism, you basically need to wait for someone to retire, get pregnant or die.”
And that’s certainly been true for me. (No, I didn’t hatch any sinister murder plans to secure myself a job this summer, a reporter was on maternity leave). Anyway.
Employers are inundated with CVs from equally qualified applicants, to the point where one frustrated editor today decided not to read any. Alan Geere, Editor of Northcliffe Media South East claimed on his blog to be “fed up wading through turgid ‘letters of application’ and monstrous CVs outlining an early career in retail handling and a flirtation with the upper slopes of the Andes.”
So, in a move to separate the mice from the men Geere decided to limit all job applications to the 140 characters allowed in a tweet, stating that he wants reporters that can write “quickly and accurately.”
I thought I’d give this a go and see what I could fit in 140 characters. My would-be application looks a little something like this:
@alangeere LLB 2.1, shorthand 60wpm, attending Cardiff for journalism postgrad 11/12, 3 months experience @WTelegraph, clean driving licence
Whilst I think that writing concisely is a skill, I don’t think this 140 character passage really does me justice. On this subject Matthew Holehouse tweeted this:
And I have to say I agree with him. In 140 characters you can only establish the very basics to a person’s qualifications. Geere says himself: “I keep getting told there is an over-supply of qualified people wanting to do journalism. Well, maybe there is but there’s definitely not an over-supply of people who are any good.”
If you limit someone to 140 characters, all you can establish is their ability to make an extremely short list. In an incredibly overcrowded job market, I would hope that prospective employers take budding journalists more seriously than this. It takes half an hour, maximum, to read a CV. A yes or no to a job application can affect an applicant’s whole life.