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Feb 19 / King Kaufman

Advice for potential job seekers, i.e. everyone: Keep up with changing media

The headline on this piece by Sandra Oshiro is ominous: “How laid-off journalists can stay afloat while the industry moves ‘to new moorings.’” But it’s packed with information that anyone who’s looking for a job in media can use.

And that might mean any of us, no matter how secure you might be in your job today. Given the volatility of the media industry and, beyond that, the long-ago end of a working world in which you stay at one company for 50 years and collect a gold watch, it’s safe to say most of us have some job searches in our future.

Oshiro lost her spot as an editor at Patch, AOL’s attempt to conquer the online hyperlocal news market, in a wave of layoffs last May. She writes that she looked around and saw a world in flux:

Journalists who have not sought employment recently may be shocked at how drastically the jobs landscape has changed. The market they are walking into won’t be the one that greeted them when they first got their J-school degrees.

Digital skills these long-timers told themselves they’d get around to learning are often what employers are seeking today. Beyond writing for the Web, video editing, and social media knowledge, employers want those with high level technical skills like programming, data visualization, mapping and other abilities that require concentrated study to acquire.

Oshiro interviews Lars Schmidt, a media talent recruiter, who points out that print isn’t the only part of the media that’s been hit hard by the disruption of the last decade or so. It’s everywhere. Today’s innovative disruptor is tomorrow’s disrupted, often leaving squads of employees and freelancers hitting the pavement in search of the next ground floor.

“All journalists,” Schmidt says, “not just those trying to recover from a recent layoff, have to pay continuous attention to where media are going.”

So what’s a laid-off journalist to do? “I think it is important that in addition to being great writers, journalists have a comfort level and curiosity around digital platforms,” Schmidt said by phone. He advises journalists to focus on displaying their digital skills in their portfolios.  Strengths in that area are important as consumers migrate away from print toward Web and mobile …

While it may all be new for some among the recently laid-off, creating a solid LinkedIn profile, learning to connect with hiring mangers, building a website for clips and other work, and networking online as well as in real life are all part of today’s job search. Schmidt offers other tips for job hunters on his company’s website.

Oshiro ends up considering the question “But should you even stick it out in journalism?” It’s a tough one, since job reductions have been a trend for a while. We all have to answer it for ourselves, but if your answer is yes—or even if it might be yes—Oshiro’s advice is as simple as it is difficult, and vital: Keep up.`