By Mick Gregory
The Dead End Career Realization.
A long-in-the-tooth journalist just wrote a newspaper recruiter with an unfortunate moniker — Joe Grimm — who writes a column at the Poynter Institute. Don’t believe me? Google Joe Grimm.
Is Age Hurting My Job Search?
You think? More than that, it’s the salary you think you deserve. You should know newspapers still have a stream of ambitious, gullible, journalism (J-school) graduates who just spent their parents’ nest egg on a very worthless degree, and are willing to work for $10 an hour. In fact, interns are willing to work for free.
I’m looking at a great 25-year career with honors and a dead end as far as job prospects. In a narrowly focused newsroom field, I’ve got more experience than most candidates, and I’ve got a resume to match, yet for the past two years (I’m temporarily out of the newsroom), I’ve been unable to land a top-level management job. Holding out for management?
Most recently, I was assured that I’d “be back” soon following a great interview process, only to be called weeks later — by the recruiter, not the editor — to say they had chosen someone with more experience … a stretch, since I was aware of the other candidates.
So tell me. Is it age? Or being out of the newsroom? In searching for answers, I’ve asked for feedback from editors, one of whom replied that it’s all about fit. Others didn’t respond. Take a look in the mirror; is that a comb-over? How much exercise have you been getting, chunky?
Is it me? I’m thinking that professional etiquette would at least be paid from one manager to another, even if one is a candidate. And certainly the decency of a telephone call or a response.
In our profession (he thinks journalism is a profession!) as communicators, it seems we are the great mis-communicators. Or perhaps, as has happened to many strong newsroom voices, I’ve become one of those led out to pasture.
So, Mr. Grimm… what’s your recommendation? Do I simply resign myself to having reaped the best years and sit quietly in the meadow? Or do I continue to apply for everything that comes up and risk the chance of being “one of those …”?
Need your advice.
Grimm’s answer: Of course, I can’t tell you what the problem is on the basis of your well-written note, but I can give you some things to think about.
First of all, if age is the issue, no one who wants to stay out of court will tell you that. It likely is a lot more complicated than a straight age issue, though, as it sounds like you have a lot of working years in front of you.
Employers will seldom get real honest with unsuccessful job candidates unless they see them as well-suited for another job down the road. Explanations can be awkward and time-consuming, and they often lead to defensive arguments from candidates who feel they are being attacked at a time when they are vulnerable.
The person who gave you the vague answer about “fit” may be the closest you have come to the truth. “Fit” usually refers to a personality mismatch and may refer to qualities such as outgoingness, aggressiveness, entrepreneurial skills and a host of other characteristics.
Talk to former employers and other colleagues — people who know you well and who will be honest with you. It is too soon for you to give up.
Fellow bloggers, what kind of advice would you give “Stuck”?
My advice is, “start practicing this line in a mirror, ‘you would look great behind the wheel of this cream puff Honda Civic!'”
Stuck, I have a question for you. With 25 years in the biz, you may well have a child about to enter college. Would you encourage your son or daughter to pursue a degree in print or any other mainstream media?