Panel discussion advises job seekers to build relationships and gain expertise

by Rachel Shaw
Oct 30, 2018 in Journalism Basics

As with any career, the path toward a career as a journalist or editor at a major news outlet may seem mysterious. What steps can one take to get hired at a newsroom? What do hiring managers look for in prospective employees?

During a recent panel discussion at the National Press Club, five industry leaders sought to answer these questions.

They gave job seekers a range of advice, from the importance of weeding out typos from  resumes and cover letters to studying the career paths of successful journalists.

“Think long term,” advised Amy Fiscus, national security editor for The New York Times. “Your first job should set you on your path, not be a final destination.”

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

Build relationships

Take the time to build genuine relationships with other professionals in the news business — the kind of rapport  that comes from years of contact, the panelists said.

They told stories about taking years to build relationships with a desired news outlet before even submitting a job application. They recommended contacting someone with more than a year of experience at a coveted outlet to ask about their work in journalism, and to get feedback on work from editors.

Sudeep Reddy, the managing editor of Politico, said he spent six years sending his work to a Wall Street Journal recruiter before he received an interview — and eventually, a job — based on the outlet’s familiarity with him.

Networks like the National Press Club are also a good way to connect with recruiters, the panelists said.  

Gain skills and expertise  

“My best advice is to pick a goal of where you want to be in five or 10 years with your career and take jobs that move you in that direction,” said Brody Mullins, a reporter at The Wall Street Journal. “And don’t take no for an answer.”

Mullins and the other panelists also said they look for candidates with specialization in certain subjects.

They recommended gaining skills and expertise in a specific topic to stand out. When looking for skills from applicants, the panelists said they desire digital skills, including the ability to shoot and edit videos. They also want to hire applicants with strong storytelling and investigative skills.

They find that the best way to evaluate a candidate’s expertise is through his or her work on their personal websites and social media, encouraging attendees to put time into developing their online portfolios.

The industry is challenging to navigate, but panelists offered practical advice for anyone excited to pursue a career in the newsroom. They encouraged attendees to think long-term and to take conscious steps towards their end goal.  

During a recent panel discussion at the National Press Club, media professionals offered advice for job seekers interested in working in the industry.

Main image CC-licensed by Unsplash via Andrew Neel

Rachel Shaw graduated from Brandeis University in May 2017 with a major in history and a minor in legal studies. She is a programs intern at the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).