Anyone who wants to work in the media should read this

The media is one of the most competitive industries for would-be employees. Here are six ways to stand out from the crowd

By Sophie Cole

Ask anyone who knows and they’ll tell you that scoring a job in the media is tough. The industry is swamped with young, ambitious job hunters who will do just about anything to realise their dreams.

    The industry is swamped with young, ambitious job hunters who will do just about anything to realise their dreams.  

To help you stand out from the crowd, we asked recruitment pros and those who work in the media for advice. Without further ado, here are our top tips for media-career success.

1. Build a portfolio. And make it impressive

Show potential employers what you’re made of by building a portfolio of your finest moments.

For example, if you’re a wannabe actor or TV presenter, you need a showreel of your highlights. Likewise a camera operator or production pro: you need to show off your quality with a strong selection of original work. And if the printed word is more your thing, well, you know the drill: gather your finest pieces and have them ready to share with anyone who may consider hiring you.  

Of course, that’s easier said than done when you’re just starting out and have zero experience. But why not pair up with other aspiring creatives and help each other out? A struggling presenter and a fledgling videographer sound like a match made in heaven. Put your feelers out and chances are you’ll find your perfect partner.

2. Be proactive in hunting for opportunities

Jody Collings, a senior consultant at Just Recruitment, says that media roles aren’t as easy to find as those in more traditional industries. “Widen your search beyond the usual job sites to give you the best chance of finding the perfect opportunity,” she advises.

“Send speculative emails directly to media companies. Make it clear that you’re up for any snippets of work they can offer, and always keep an eye out for direct submission calls or auditions. You need to be proactive if you’re to bag the job of your dreams.”

3. Give uni a try

We all know that you don’t strictly need a degree to succeed in the media. Just look at people like Chris Evans and Holly Willoughby. But media companies are like any other employer, and often use a degree as a way of sifting applicants.

There are loads of degree programmes for aspiring media professionals, from journalism and TV courses to film studies, media production, music technology and courses with a behind-the-scenes focus such as media make-up or set design.

If you want to get earning straight off the blocks, consider an apprenticeship, combining academic study with on-the-job skills development. In an industry like the media, where hands-on experience is highly prized, this is an ideal way to make a name for yourself.  

4. Get some work experience. Then get some more

Tim Gibson, a journalist and video presenter for national newspapers including The Daily Telegraph, as well as marketing strategist for Just Recruitment Group Ltd, says that work experience is crucial when you’re trying to establish yourself in the media.

“I doubt there’s anyone working in the media today who didn’t start out with work experience somewhere,” he says. “It’s certainly how I made my name. Start small, with a local newspaper, hospital radio, or internet TV station. And be prepared to make the tea or pilot the photocopier for a week.

“It won’t be glamorous, but it’ll get you known and show potential employers that you’re serious about working in a notoriously demanding, challenging and competitive industry.” 

5. Stay focused

Winner of the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowship and seasoned screenwriter Sean Robert Daniels says that self-motivation and focus will get you a long way in the media industry.

“As well as all the usual stuff like being punctual and professional, I appreciate it when those I work with don’t need constant prompting,” he says. “It’s great to be self-reliant, to proactively look for ways to go the extra mile and stand out.”

Sean also says that it’s not just those behind the scenes who need to know their stuff.

“Doing your homework is essential. Even if you’re a presenter who just reads off a script, you’ll do the best job if you know the topic you’re talking about. And it helps if you’re someone who can take on information and adapt quickly, particularly if you want to work in news broadcasting or live TV or radio.”

6. Start small, think big

If you want to make it in the media, prepare to work from the bottom up. Be realistic about the jobs you apply for, as you’ll have a tough time convincing an interview panel to hire you as executive producer when you’re fresh out of college.

It can be disheartening to work as a humble coffee-fetcher or note-taker, but stick with it. Even the most humble roles provide a foot in the door. And sometimes, that’s all you need to get noticed and make your dream come true.

Published: 10 April 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

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