On Tuesday I wrote about the top five recommendations that Rolling Stone writer Michael Hastings gave to aspiring journalists (on Reddit) and added my own input on how these applied to other professions. Today I present recommendations six through ten.
6. Hastings said: You should have a blog and be following journalists you like on Twitter.
My take: You may not need to have a blog, unless you want to be a writer, but you should keep up on the most recent information about your profession. Know about the key players in your field. If they’re on Twitter (or LinkedIn) make sure you follow them. (Tips 24, 31, 35, and 50 plus Appendix F in my book provide more on how to use social media to your advantage.)
7. Hastings said: If there’s a publication you want to work for or write for, cold call the editors and/or email them. This can work.
My take: This can work in other fields as well. Just be sure that you know what you want to say when you call, that you sound professional, and that you have something to offer that they will value.
8. Hastings said: By the second sentence of a pitch, the entirety of the story should be explained. (In other words, if you can’t come up with a rough headline for your story idea, it’s going to be a challenge to get it published.)
My take: This is another recommendation that seems specific to journalists. But what this is really saying is that communication is important, and whether you’re writing or speaking, you need to get to the point and help others see that point quickly and concisely. Communication skills are among the most important attributes that employers are looking for in new employees, and by communication skills they mean not only being able to write and speak correctly, they mean being able to be clear, concise and appropriate.
9. Hastings said: Mainly you really have to love writing and reporting. Like it’s more important to you than anything else in your life–family, friends, social life, whatever.
My take: I’m not sure that I would go so far as to say that your career has to be “more important to you than anything else in your life,” but if you want to get a start in a competitive field and you want to get ahead, you’re going to have to make sacrifices. It’s definitely something to think about, and something that I have been writing about in this blog for the past few weeks. What will make you happy? What will make you successful?
10. Hastings said: Learn to embrace rejection as part of the gig. Keep writing/pitching/reading.
My take: Learning to accept rejection is a hard lesson, but it’s an important one for job seekers. The odds are pretty good that you’re not going to get offered the first job you apply for, and it’s hard to feel good about yourself your take-away is just that you aren’t worthy. You just have to have confidence that there is a job out there for you and recognize that every interview is giving you more experience. Interviewing is a skill like any other, and you’ll get better with practice. The more often you interview, even unsuccessfully, the more you learn about what’s important to you and how to present yourself to others.