Last week, the White House issued a memo from President Barack Obama on how the federal government should handle hiring. The memo follows years of bureaucratic, red-taped, molasses-paced, foot-dragging, impersonal and unprofessional practices that have cost the federal government a lot of good hires.
Media companies are slowly beginning to do a little hiring, but in the past couple of years have been afflicted with some of the same maladies. Here is my memo to newsroom managers about hiring, with some guidance from the White House memo. Even on my best day as a recruiter, I would have had to work pretty hard to do all this.
MEMORANDUM FOR NEWSROOM MANAGERS
SUBJECT: Improving the recruitment and hiring process
To deliver the journalism the American people expect and deserve, newsrooms must recruit and hire highly qualified employees. Journalism should be a career of choice for the most talented Americans. Yet complexity and inefficiency of today’s media hiring process — not just the economy — deter many highly qualified individuals from seeking and obtaining jobs in the media.
I therefore call on newsrooms to overhaul the way they recruit and hire their workforce. Americans must be able to apply for media jobs through a common-sense hiring process, and newsrooms must be able to select high-quality candidates efficiently and quickly when they can.
Moreover, newsroom managers and supervisors must assume a leadership role in recruiting and selecting employees from all segments of our society. The ability of the news media to perform their missions effectively and efficiently depends on a talented and engaged workforce, and we must reform our hiring system to further strengthen that workforce.
By no authority whatsoever, and recognizing that many of you still have hiring freezes, I hereby suggest the following:
1) That newsroom managers become more fully involved in the hiring process, including planning current and future workforce requirements, identifying the skills required for the job and engaging actively in recruiting and interviewing.
2) All newsroom jobs, no matter how large or small, are posted publicly so that journalists will know hiring is actually going on. We will stop hiding behind secret postings to keep our workload down. Having a lot of candidates should not be a bad thing.
3) We end this practice of posting so-called blind ads in which job candidates can’t tell where they are applying. Why the secrecy?
4) We strike the “no phone calls” line from our job postings. (This is the “don’t-ask, don’t-tell policy.”)
5) All applicants will be told on a timely basis, at least by e-mail, that their applications have been received. This will end the phone calls from journalists asking, “Did you get my resume?” Plus, this way is just nicer.
6) As soon as newsroom managers know, applicants will learn whether they:
7) As we use a fresh-slate approach to our hiring practices, we will recommit ourselves to the effort and strategies needed to actually hire and retain the staffs that reflect the communities we serve.
8) To accomplish all of this, we will:
I think we can start implementing some of this now, don’t you?
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Coming Wednesday: Join me and Poynter’s Colleen Eddy at 1 p.m. ET for a live chat on how to overcome career obstacles.