A version of this Q&A originally appeared in the weekly newsletter Journalism jobs and a photo of my dog in late April.
After numerous coaching calls and emails with journalists in recent weeks, I collected up some of their more pressing questions and sent them to Bradley Cain, editorial recruiter at Condé Nast, which he answered via email.
Bradley also participated in a panel I moderated with and several other recruiters for the Online News Association’s NYC chapter back in February (before coronavirus really hit the U.S.) if you want to see the recap.
Answers have been lightly edited.
Mandy Hofmockel: Should I even be job hunting right now (especially if I have a job already)?
Bradley Cain: Yes, you should always keep an eye out or at least be ready to apply when an appealing role opens up. Now is an especially difficult time to rely on job boards or responses from recruiters — “apologies for the delay.” However, apply to the job if it’s still posted on the company’s site and figure out the rest later.
Hofmockel: How can I still network?
Cain: Almost more easily than you could before. Your routine has surely changed, and you may have found yourself with more time. Use that time. I suggest making lists of people to contact, maybe these sorts of lists: former colleagues, coworkers, potential employers, potential partners for a project. This can spark ideas and help you realize how large your network really is.
Hofmockel: How has what employers are looking for changed (if at all)?
Cain: Employers are still looking for the same things listed in their job postings. The reality is that hiring processes are being restructured (often with many added layers of approval and oversight) during a volatile time in the industry and the global economy. But journalism is still journalism — deadlines are still being filed and audiences are still relying on your work, maybe more than ever. Keep doing that work.
Hofmockel: If I can’t land a job in my chosen field, how can I keep my skills sharp and stay relevant?
Cain: This is a tough question to answer because I strongly believe skills picked up working in any capacity — especially this full/part-time job search — will keep you moving forward, which has to be the main focus and goal if you’re at this stage of your career.
These uncomfortable, seemingly unending junctures can be the most valuable because they can remind us what we’re made of, what we’re capable of and what we want to achieve. These are the times we usually write about, so lean in.
Also, embrace LinkedIn because it isn’t going away.
Hofmockel: What other advice would you like to share with job seekers during this difficult time?
Cain: Timing is the most critical piece of the puzzle that is the hiring process. Naturally, it’s frustrating — on both sides — when we have no control over the pace or the outcome, but remind yourself of this on those tough days when you feel like you’re not making any contact with anyone, can’t get your resume on one page, or can’t even begin to think about opening another jobs email.
Mandy Hofmockel is Hearst Connecticut Media Group’s Managing Editor of Audience and she writes a weekly newsletter, Journalism jobs and a photo of my dog. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @mandyhofmockel.