Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

Should Students Pursue Journalism?

A headline from HuffPost Media this week stopped me in my Twitter-prowling tracks: “Employment Rates Are Improving For Everyone But Journalism Majors.”

My first reaction was to cringe. I’ve always considered myself capable of well-reasoned decisions. Prone to follow the logical path, I have a reputation of calculated intelligence.

So why was the most important decision of my academic career – to pursue an undergraduate degree in journalism – singled out as a seemingly embarrassing career choice?

It’s true: the odds aren’t exactly in my favor when it comes to a predictable job market in journalism.

With the decline of print newspapers and the surge in freemium, online news models, journalists must now enter the market with a secured internship or a potential job offering in mind – or risk getting swallowed up in the sea of unemployment.

Journalists-in-training like me are learning not only the basics of inverted pyramid structure and AP Style nuances but also the importance of networking and social connections. Because no matter how well a journalist can write, the business has become a who-knows-who arena of opportunities.

Eat or be eaten, as they say.

But despite these unfavorable odds of security and market prospects in the field of journalism, I couldn’t be more firm in my resolve to continue my journalism education.

Journalists are the gatekeepers of information – independent seekers of truth.

We ask the questions bubbling inside the human head.  We are animals of curiosity with a desire to inform, to educate, and to entertain our audiences.  We don’t just tell you what you want to know, but we tell you what you need to know.

My advice to young journalists: decide for yourself if this profession is merely a hobby or a lifelong devotion.

If you’re looking for a passive, ‘9-to-5’ work schedule, I’d suggest taking a different path. Those guarantees aren’t likely to come in a typical journalism job description.

But if you value the ability of language to shape and transform a community, stick with it.  Dream up a destination. Carve out a goal. Give yourself a concrete reason for persisting in this evolving and unpredictable craft.

Take the responsibility of finding and discovering the truth of our world into your hands. Own it. Embrace it.

I am proud to call myself a truth-seeking journalist. What could be a more honorable job description than that?

Bethany N. Bella is a multimedia journalist studying at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Connect with her on Twitter @bnbjourno or browse her work at

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Throw away your résumé

Find a Job keyboardFile this under “W” for “wake-up call.”

This week, online clothing retailer Zappos gave job seekers a kick in the pants by announcing it now prefers social networking to résumé reading when it chooses hires.

That means instead of sifting through millions of digital missives to find qualified candidates, Zappos will opt for tools that allow it to talk directly with potential hires — social media among them — and hear their responses before even thinking of reading a résumé.

Why the change?

“The problem is, our recruiters are too damn busy,” wrote Zappos senior HR manager Mike Bailen in a post on “Too busy to build real relationships, too busy to WOW our candidates, and too busy to strategically seek out thought leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs who will advance our business and drive our culture forward.”

Zappos last year had about 31,000 job applicants, of which only 1.5 percent of them were hired. “That’s 30,000 times a recruiter had to click and scan through a résumé and cover letter, 30,000 times a rejection template had to be sent, and 30,000 missed opportunities on doing something more meaningful,” Bailen said. Meanwhile, good-fit candidates are trampled by the crowd and may think the company has wasted their time.

So, instead of sending résumés and cover letters as introductions, Zappos prefers prospects first join one of its social networks to get to know the company better, then pursue any further interest by becoming a Zappos Insider, where visitors can strike up conversations with Zappos’s employees and managers about corporate culture.

Zappos’s idea of hiring based on relationships instead of résumés is not new to the marketplace, but this particular approach has a whiff of innovation to it, so it’s wise to think other companies will consider similar approaches — at least in theory.

Sure, it’s time-consuming to sift résumés, and keyword sifting ignores personality and character. But shifting a chunk of the hiring burden to employees and trying to establish personal relationships with applicants at the outset eats up even more of the clock.

Furthermore, the process has a privacy issue; Zappos expects some Insider dialog to take place in public.

“My guess is that Zappos will have thousands of inquiries. Some of them will be from people who are very needy and want to keep checking in,” Peter Cappelli of the Wharton Center for Human Resources told E-Commerce Times. “If the recruiters don’t have time to do that, will the regular employees? How are they going to get their work done?”

To be clear, Zappos isn’t dispensing with résumés entirely. The company still will request a printable version of a prospect’s work history as a marker. Zappos also will employ talent-acquisition technology to sort through desired qualifications and aptitudes in those histories.

But by trying what seems an audacious approach, Zappos serves up a reminder that the way we look for jobs is changing just as fast as the job market itself, and that job hunters should plan to do more than just hand out résumés and cover letters.


David Sheets is a freelance writer and editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.



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