By Chandra Turner
Editors are masters at taking complicated concepts and boiling them down into clear, succinct thoughts that engage and connect with an audience.
Except when it comes to writing about themselves. They may be able to explain to their readers how the blockchain works or articulate the shade of blue that is the nail color of the season, but they struggle to come up with two sentences about themselves as a job candidate. Sound like you, too?
I like to think that journalists are reluctant to talk about themselves because we are so used to telling other people’s stories. For many of us, we learned in J School that self-promotion is taboo and it just doesn’t come naturally. Whatever the reason, it’s a habit we have to break.
If you want to change roles, pivot to an adjacent industry, or otherwise move your career forward, you need to talk about yourself and your career goals succinctly and with confidence.
What you need is essentially a UVP – a unique value proposition — for your career. Think of it as an outline of who you are, what makes you special, and where you want to be next. Once you can articulate those things you’ll have a more focused job search and be able to make decisions faster and easier. Here are the three key points you need to convey in your personal UVP to attract the right hiring managers and recruiters:
1. Your Unique Skillset
You have lots of skills. But what are you uniquely good at? What area of content creation, production, or management do you thrive at and want to continue to do moving forward? Are you a master at managing multimedia branded content campaigns? Are you a homepage editor with a knack for packaging the day’s content to entice clicks? Are you a storyteller who can weave we’ve-done-this-a-million-times evergreen material into sharp, fun, or witty pieces? Part of defining your unique skillset should include the platform(s) on which you use these skills and want to continue to use them: Social media? Print? Podcasting? Newsletters? Video? Ecommerce? Don’t be afraid to be specific. Specificity is your friend when it comes to marketing yourself as a candidate. There are a lot of roles out there now — essentially every industry needs content experts. You want to be aligned with the jobs that you’re uniquely qualified to do — doing so will, in turn, make you uniquely attractive to aligned hiring managers and recruiters. If your skills are too generic you risk being filtered out of the algorithm or glazed over by the human scanner.
2 Your SAE.
That’s your subject area expertise and you need at least one. When hiring managers at media companies and consumer brands come to me to find their editorial talent they rarely ask for a generalist. What they want is a skilled editor (see #1 above) who gets their business, is a fan of their brand, and has an expertise in a beat that aligns with their core product. Ideally they want an editor who is up on the latest trends, has contacts with the expert sources, and has a history in a particular industry — whether that be health, tech, fashion, education, music, breaking news, or even blockchain. Not an expert in anything? The next best thing is to show you are a legit fan of the company or an enthusiast in its subject area. Don’t be afraid to fly your freak flag when it comes to your interests and passions. They can very well be what gets you hired.
The formula for the most competitive content roles: Uniquely Skilled Editor + Subject Matter Expert = Ideal Hire.
3. Your ideal work environment.
The third thing you need to define is the work environment you thrive in. What kind of company sparks your creativity, drives you forward, and allows you to do your best work? Do you crave the structure of a large hierarchical organization? Prefer a loose and autonomous environment with lots of creative freedom? Love a fast pace with quick and dirty decision making? A more thoughtful approach to content you feel invested in? Do you want to be at a company that is sustainable, purpose driven, or aligned with your politics? Not sure? Think back to the places you’ve worked before and consider why you excelled in one role versus another. Now articulate what that is — first to yourself (“I’m never working at Fortune 500 corporation again!”) and then in a constructive way for hiring managers (“I’m looking for more of a startup environment.”) You have the skills and the expertise — but without a structure that fits your work style and personality, you can’t thrive. Creating some parameters for yourself will set you up for success.
Now, jot down these three key points on a Post It, type them into the Notes app on your phone or in another place that you can reference as you embark on your job search. Use a first-person version of your UVP in your Linked In About and a third-person version as your resume summary. Use it in your cover letters and in your outreach to prospective employers. Get used to saying it out loud, casually to your friends and at networking events until it becomes second nature in job interviews. Continue to hone it and perfect it as you go through your job search; it’ll keep you focused and strategic so you can land in a place that is a unique fit for the unique editor that you are.
Chandra Turner is an editorial recruiter and career coach and the founder of The Talent Fairy and Ed2010.