Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

Would you hire you?

Posted in Entrepreneurial Journalism by Adam Westbrook on June 6, 2011

Imagine you’re an editor at an event, and a plucky young journalism student introduces themselves. 

After a little bit of chat, they hand you this card. Would you hire them?

Obviously it would be cool to have someone called Don Draper working in your newsroom (assuming you had a lax ‘No Smoking’ policy); but that aside it’s not a very grabbing advertisement. Yet I see countless student journalists who refer to themselves on their own websites, twitter feeds or blogs as an “aspiring journalist”.

When I trained at City University in London, one of the first things we were told by the then head of department Adrian Monck was that we were, from that moment on, journalists, and were to start thinking like journalists.

Now repeat the scenario, and this time, imagine they hand you this card:

Would you call them in for an interview now? And what about if they handed you this card?

All three cards belong to the same person, except now they’re selling their skills and experience a lot better. They’ve also got rid of their hotmail account, learned some basics of design & typography, and forked out for professional domain name.

The point is, no-one knows how good you are unless you tell them.  Boldly, and with confidence.

Journalism is not law or medicine: you won’t get hauled before a council for saying you’re a journalist without the right qualifications to back you up. I once saw Peaches Geldof introduce herself as a journalist, so really, anyone can do it.

As the exams and coursework deadlines come and go, don’t undermine all that hard work and training by selling yourself short. 


10 Responses

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  1. Dan Thornton said, on June 6, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    And the thing to note is that a domain name costs all of about £10 or less. And if you’re not a designer and completely typeface/design illiterate, then you can still find reasonably priced designers able to help out – after all you’re investing in your future career.7

    The only problems could be:
    1. You have a great business card, but a crap blog you haven’t updated in 6 months.
    2. You find out you enjoy running your own site and business more and give up on working for other people anyway!

    (The 2nd really isn’t a problem…)

  2. Marcus GW said, on June 6, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Ironically I’ve also found that you can also put people off if you are too slick because people think you will be too expensive or pretentious. That’s not so much the case with getting an ordinary job but for freelance stuff or your own company I’d say this is a consideration. Your branding has to make people feel like you’re on their side, which is why I’d say 95% is better than 100%.

    • Marc Thomas said, on June 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

      From lots of freelance experience, I’d prefer to appear too expensive and lose out on a commission but get to work with great clients than to appear too cheap and be begging for scraps from an editor/clients table.

      I’d prefer 105%, 200% of the time.

      • Adam Westbrook said, on June 7, 2011 at 11:58 am

        I would agree with Marc (on your first comment, anyway!) – I have lost pitches because I have flaked out and gone way below market value, and come across as a bit cheap. I have never lost a commission where I have egged up the cost a little.

    • Marc Thomas said, on June 7, 2011 at 11:22 am

      Furthermore, isn’t that comment a little hypocritical of you given that your website is ruddy amazing?

  3. Prof KRG said, on June 6, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Excellent points! This also is so applicable to resumes.

  4. Phil Hayes said, on June 10, 2011 at 8:59 am

    But I’d also suggest that you keep the back of the card empty. When I meet people I find it really useful to make a quick note of what we discussed on the back of the card. Can’t do that if it’s got a photo on it – or if it’s too highly laminated.

  5. […] Why do so many student journalists call themselves ‘aspiring’? – would you hire a journalist who called themselves ‘aspiring’? […]

  6. Adam said, on December 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Id never hire anyone who put the word multimedia on a card such a out of date 90s word.

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