By Chandra Turner
I got all of my media jobs via word of mouth. For decades, the magazine media industry was a tight-knit group and we got our jobs and made our hires based on reputation and referrals. When hiring managers got stuck, we’d go through the mastheads of mags we respected and poached accordingly. We rarely worked with recruiters. We didn’t need to. And our HR departments focused on the sales or marketing roles, rarely editorial. When they did handle edit, they usually gave us terrible candidates. They just didn’t get it. So as editors we were trained to avoid HR, scout our own people, and get our jobs and candidates via word of mouth. For a long time it worked.
That’s not really the case anymore. That internal media network has blown up. Our pool of candidates has become scattered and unknown. Our hiring needs are also much more complicated. And there is so much noise in the space. So many jobs on Linked In. So many job alerts from Zip Recruiter. So many reviews from Glassdoor. It’s overwhelming. It’s overwhelming to search for a job and it’s overwhelming to find candidates. I know because I’m on the front lines: I launched Talent Fairy, my own recruiting business, this spring.
The way you look for jobs in media and the way you are discovered goes way beyond who you know these days. (Although a good referral always helps!) My point is: If you are looking for a new opportunity, there are a few things you must do to make yourself discoverable that you didn’t have to do before. Follow these tips that will make it easier for hiring managers and recruiters (like me!) to find you and approach you for the right role.
For the love of all media, add your personal email to the Contact Info section of your Linked In profile. And check your personal email account on the regular. This is the best way for hiring managers to reach you (please don’t make me DM you on Twitter!). And no one wants to email you at your work address. I do it when I’m desperate, but it just feels icky. And chances are you don’t want us to anyway. See my own profile below where you can see Contact Info:
When you click on it, this window pops up — fill this sucker out!
Check your Linked In messages. No one likes hanging out on Linked In (myself included) and you may not go on for months at a time if you aren’t actively job hunting. But if you are open to opportunities, turn on the setting so you get an email alert when you get a message via LinkedIn. Sure, you can ignore it if you aren’t interested. But the ones who respond to me are the ones I put in my database for future opportunities. And the ones who don’t, I make a note that they didn’t respond so I’m less likely to bother for the next role. See screenshot:
Btw: Don’t rely on the recruiter “light.” You probably have seen the setting on Linked In that allows you to tell recruiters that you are open to new opportunities. Just know that that isn’t enough. The only people who can see this designation are recruiters who pay the expensive Recruiter or Professional versions. Many hiring managers and recruiters (like me) don’t bother. So guess what? We can’t tell if your light is on or not.
Spell out your specialties. No one is looking for a generalist. In media, we hire for skill sets and subject area expertise. So be clear what yours are — or what you want them to be. Beauty? Health? Fashion? Pharma? Tech? 24 hour news? Long-form news? Personal finance? It’s OK if there’s more than one. But it’s not OK if there are none.
Write short descriptions under each of your roles. What’s the point of having a Linked In profile if you’re just going to list the name of your company and your title? Explain what verticals you work on, what kinds of content you are creating, the names of projects you have spearheaded. At an agency? List the names of the clients you work with, or at the very least, the product categories they represent. And say it conversationally and in terms that everyone can understand. Hello! You are a content creator, not an accountant! Create a great piece of content with your Linked In profile. (Thanks Mindy Walker for agreeing to be in here!)
See a what-not-to-do below. I cut off the name which furthers my point that this could be anyone! Nothing special here. Moving along! I don’t know how many PR manager profiles I’ve looked at in the last month who are just long lists of “Account Executive” titles with different agency names next to them. I have no idea what you did in those roles or what kind of brands you represented. Who are your clients? What do you DOOO? Please give me a hint!
Fill out those skills! It’s really easy to add your skills to your Linked In — just go to the bottom of your profile and click on the appropriate ones. Choose the ones that best correspond to the job you want rather than what you’ve done. Why? Because Linked In’s algorithm is based on the skills you list and shows if you are qualified (or not) for the role you are after. Btw: the endorsements are nice to have but not necessary. (I use them to figure out how to address someone, i.e.,if you are Alison, if people call you Allie in their endorsements.)
Add a photo! It’s incredible to me how many people still don’t have photos on Linked In (I also wish LI would make their photo placeholder more interesting!). If you don’t have a photo, I won’t reach out to you. I’m just not convinced you are real.
Write a short bio. Keep it super short. Maybe even just a bulleted list of what you want to be known for. If you are after senior health editor roles yours could be: “Health editor. Jargon eliminator. Copy doctor.” If you are after content strategy roles in food: “Food Editor. Social media expert. Content strategist.” Or just write a few lines about what you want your next role to be, i.e. I’m an experienced fashion writer and editor who has worked for global fashion brands. I’m now looking for a role at a mission-aligned, sustainable fashion company. Here’s a good one:
Write in the first person. At least for your profile! There’s something jarring about reading something on social media that’s clearly written by you but in second or third person. (Yet, I still advise that you write your resume in second person without the “you,” i.e., Writes for xyz websites. Manages this and that.)
Be part of the conversation. When friends, former colleagues or others in your network are searching for talent, share their posts, offer to post in your alumni network or share in your circle, or even provide some referrals. You will make a connection to a hiring manager or a recruiter that you wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s also just good career karma.
Show some enthusiasm. In your correspondence and your initial interviews, act like you are excited about the job or at least excited that someone reached out to you for it. Even if you are skeptical about the role. Try to always enter with optimism and energy. You can always wiggle out later as you learn more. But no one wants to keep a candidate in the mix who has no enthusiasm, no eagerness, or what hiring managers have always called “sparkle.” It matters more than you think, even at the VP and exec level.
Be positive. You may hate your current job, are pissed off at the company who laid you off, or angry about the state of media today, but skip the negativity. Even if you know the hiring manager or the recruiter personally, avoid too much moaning and groaning. No need to dwell on where you are now. Talk about how excited you are about where you are going and what’s next in your career — the person on the other side of the conversation will be much more eager to help you get there.
Chandra Turner is founder and CEO of Ed2010 and Talent Fairy. She is a talent recruiter specializing in the content and media space. She also offers personalized career coaching for media professionals at all stages of their career.
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