Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Job hunting in a recession part deux: sometimes life gets in the way of your career

Got this very valid question after the last post:

News Directors don't think bad of you if it's been a few months since graduation and you haven't fond a job in the industry yet, what if it's been a few years? A few years and you've been working in a totally different field? How does one overcome that on their resume?

To answer this, let me go back to a job fair I attended as a manager several years ago.

We were looking for some entry level people, specifically assistant producers, and had a booth set up at the job fair. Lots of people with journalism degrees dropped off resumes but none had impressed me. At one point this young lady in her mid-20's came up and started talking to me. I could tell right away she was very smart, well read and ambitious. She had zero television experience and had been working in a totally unrelated field. She'd gotten married in her teens, had a kid, etc. so everything got put on hold in her life.

Anyway, long story short, we hired her and she turned out to be one of our best people.

So the answer is that life can often get in the way of your career.

Let's say you graduated two years ago and couldn't find that first job. You had bills to pay, so you grabbed a job as an insurance salesman. Or a waitress. Or cutting lawns. You did what you had to do to survive.

And a News Director knows that. At least, a good one will. A good one will see that you didn't sit at home forever waiting for something to pop. A good one will see that your dream is still alive.

But here's the caveat: you have to keep your head in the game. You can't go into an interview after a few years out of the business and not know who's running for President, why the Secret Service is under scrutiny and the latest on the John Edwards trial. You must be up on current events. You have to let the ND know that even though you've been working in dad's deli (I'm looking in the mirror here) you're still going home and reading lots of newspapers and watching plenty of newscasts.

Life gets in the way more often than not. You may expect to be in a certain market by a certain age, but factors you can't even comprehend can change your plan. You can graduate during a recession, fall in love, have to take time to deal with a sick parent, any number of things. The point is to stay focused on your ultimate goal and keep your head in the game, even if your body has had to be somewhere else.


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