October 26, 2010

Last week, we turned around the Ask the Recruiter table and asked what you think of the column. You were helpful, as usual, and have given me some things to work on.

We heard from 114 of you. Compare that with Monday’s column about internship deadlines, which had 290 unique views on the day. A little more than 80 percent of respondents said they read Ask the Recruiter daily or a few times a week. I had no idea that I was a little part of some lives, so thank you for that loyalty. I will try to keep earning it. (And tell your friends.)

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they work in newsrooms, 12 percent are journalists working outside of newsrooms, 7 percent are former journalists and 6 percent each said they were students or educators.

Of the topics the survey asked about, readers said they were “very interested” or “most interested” in:

  • Salary, pay                                        77.9 percent
  • Resumes                                           76.3 percent
  • Networking                                       70.5 percent
  • Tips for transitioning                         62.3 percent
  • References                                        56.6 percent
  • Social media as it relates to careers   55.8 percent

Message received. I still will provide a mix of things, and is heading into a redesign that will put a stronger emphasis on how-to help, but I will gather more help for all of us on the top four subjects in that list. You’ll still see the other topics and more, but I am going to do more for you about money, applications, networks and transitions.

In terms of feature types, the clear preference was for Q&As on career advice, followed by stories about people who have made the transition. I haven’t done many of the latter lately, and will get some done for you.

Several people said that they would like to see the live chats at a different time. We have tried a couple of times and we have talked about this since the survey. The problem is that Poynter is not just a four-time-zone site in which my lunch is your breakfast, but it is global. One respondent in the United Kingdom said that the chat time is unworkable for him and asked if we could post summaries of the chats. We do. You can find archives of all Poynter chats here. Another respondent notes that it can be boring to read a transcript of a chat and would like summaries. I may be able to handle that by revisiting some of our best in columns.

Here are a few of the comments people submitted, one of my favorite features of surveys like this (the boldface is mine, to aid scanning):

  • “I really do appreciate the segments concerning how reporting/editing skills can be repackaged for use in another career. I think so many journalists have become weary of riding out what is happening in journalism and realize they need stability in some fashion. These segments really help to encourage those still trying to make it work in journalism that there is no need to be ashamed to leave. Keep up the good work.”
  • Age discrimination issues. How to fight badmouthing from a former employer.”
  • “I’ve been following your work since I was an aspiring journalist slaving away for my college paper. I’m now a section editor at a midsized daily. The value I’ve gotten out of your blog (and your toolkit) has evolved as my career has progressed and as your own interests have changed. You play a very important role in helping folks assess their careers and ambitions, especially for young and lost journalists. Please keep it up.”   
  • “My favorite parts are when Joe answers questions from readers. The chats are hard to follow and at awkward times of day for working folk. Q&As with people are sometimes interesting as well.”
  • Crowdsource your readers. Why not set up an e-mail list or Twitterfeed and say hey I just got this question, what are your thoughts/experiences? Maybe highlight some of the feedback from the field.”
  • “The salary info is the hardest to find online and hardest to get advice on. It’d also be nice to hear more about how to balance privacy in the use of Facebook and using it for professional purposes.”
  • “Please get up to date with your info. Recruiters are a dead job in journalism in the real world. Job boards are usually stale. The only way to get jobs, also true in the past, is networking and word of mouth. Things are more insular than ever, and that works against diversity for sure.”
  • “I’d like to see a chat or column specifically about where recent college grads have found jobs and what they did to get them. Also something from employers on what they are looking for when it comes to entry-level hires.”
  • “Any advice for breaking from entry-level purgatory into an actual job in a shark tank like New York City.”
  • “I manage a newsroom, find your topics of interest for my younger staff members.”
  • “It would be nice if the advice was more specific. Sometimes the answer is so vague that it is basically common sense.”
  • “Joe just helped me land my first job! I couldn’t be more grateful for his years of advice.”

I appreciate the time and thought that so many people put into this and will use it to make the column better. Watch for what happens around the time that we redesign and please write me any time at

Coming Friday: Job-hunting tricks and treats for Halloween.

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Joe Grimm is a visiting editor in residence at the Michigan State University School of Journalism. He runs the JobsPage Website. From that, he published…
Joe Grimm

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