She got the job. A full-time staff writer for an established newspaper. How did she do it? A special kind of resume? A personal connection to Clark Kent and Lois Lane? Some "how-to" book that unlocks the secret of a perfect job interview? Best resume?
Perhaps this shouldn't even be a story. But, the fact is that full-time, paid writing jobs are rare. Stand at the corner of Publishing Street and Job Market Avenue and you'll see an endless stream of corporate or organizational writers, copy editors, freelancers, self-promoters, bloggers and people who write because they can't imagine a world where they didn't write. You'll also see a lot of unemployed people. But you will not see a lot of full-time, paid staff writers for a newspaper.
The paper is part of an East Coast-based media outlet with a history that goes back 156 years. A locally run operation that includes a monthly newspaper with a circulation of 100,000 and a pass around rate of 2.3. The estimated readership coming out at 195,000 a week. Add in a vibrant web site, a new women's magazine and assorted blogs. Facing off against serious competition, they compete against a monolithic local paper that comes with its own TV station. So, her new employer is an established player. A recognized brand. A great place to work. In a marketplace that matters.
How did she get there?
First Came The 'Communitizing.'
Communitizing is a made up word that means " the work of really becoming part of a community." Communitizing is vital to finding work because in this hyper-competitive market, the old thinking on networking or "knowing the right person" just isn't good enough. Networking can easily mean a Linked In contact you've never even met. On the other end of the scale it can also mean good old fashioned personal contact. Communitizing takes networking at its best and ups the ante to a still higher level. When you make the word community into a verb and communitize, you no longer have to worry about gatekeepers. Because you are inside. You are in the club. You belong. Your "fit" for the job is no longer a risk. Because the community knows you are a fit.
She spent almost two years becoming part of an on-line community of writers called "Open Salon." Posting stories of not just news, features and culture, but also opinion and personal stories, the site was -- when it was fully operational -- equipped to handle a robust exchange of comments. It was a virtual community, but still a community. Her goal had been to get attention for her novel from a literary agent. That didn't happen. But something else did. She drew confidence from the community. She was crossposted twice to Salon. And she got more active in associated communities. Both the literary Ezine 'Fictionique' and the blog 'Our Salon.' Then, on Facebook, she began following the blog of the publisher of her future newspaper home. Pushing the boundaries of her virtual community even further, she pitched a Facebook friend TV personality for an interview. And that's when things really started to move.
She Kept Telling Her Story
She didn't have a brand or an elevator speech. She had her story. Literally, what mattered most to her. In a three-word Facebook post, in pictures of her family, serious journalism, and feature pieces, she did what the best story tellers do. She kept the conversation alive. One could almost hear her accent when she wrote. She was that good. And she was a welcome addition to any community conversation.
So when her interview with the TV personality was pitched to the Managing Editor of the women's magazine, she rocked the meeting. That interview was a smashing success. She built on that success by pitching The New York Times and published two pieces there. Then came her piece on Newtown.
In her piece on Newtown, which drew a huge response and the invitation to become a paid contributor, the writer brought to life a principle that surfaces in almost every successful job search story I hear back from readers of Finding Work When There Are No Jobs. That principle is "Practicing Stewardship." Put simply, taking care of something larger than oneself. Showing you see the big picture. If a person can do that, they immediately stand out from the crowd. The writer's piece on Newtown showed she understood forces bigger than any one person. The publisher knew that she was a person who could both see and act on that proverbial big picture.
So She Got The Offer
She let the publisher know in late July that she would be looking for a full-time position, so her availability for freelance would be limited.
Then, when a position on the newspaper did become available? She got it. It was as simple, and as complicated, as that. She was already IN the community. Already proven. Not by her past experience, but by her present work on the inside of the community.
She was already part of the community. Why wouldn't she be picked? No one wants to hire a stranger. Especially now. When full time jobs are so very rare.
That's how the writer got the full time job.
Could you do exactly what she did? Of course not! Every single job search is different. So copying her steps wouldn't work. But if you look hard at her story you'll see three universal principles in action. 1) Communitizing, 2)Telling Your Story and 3) Practicing Stewardship. Making those principles fit you, demands hard, fresh thinking. The principles are NOT magic, one size fits all tips or advice. The principles are more like the light that goes on in a dark room after you flick the switch. What happens after the light goes on is up to you. The principles worked when she made them her own.
For a writing job or ANY job that is hard to find, how can those principles work for you?
Not sure? Check out any one of the dozens of stories and questions in Finding Work When There Are No Jobs. And then ask yourself. "What if I start thinking differently about my own, unique path to finding work?"
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