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Balance: Work and Family

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by newspaperman, May 10, 2011.

  1. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I got tons of interviews for various city and county jobs -- I'd venture to guess maybe even around a hundred, or so -- during the 3-year stretch when I was seriously applying for them. Everything with city, county and state jobs is very regulated and standardized, which can be both good and bad. It levels the playing field among the finalists, but it can also make it difficult to stand out in the crowd, even during the interview process, which is also very formal and standard. The questions asked are the same for everyone, and it's usually hard to drag the interview panel very far afield so that you can, maybe, distinguish yourself.

    The key to getting to the interviews in the first place is to, first, have a resume/online application that includes as many of the computerized watch-words as possible while still remaining true to your actual background and abilities (so, READ the job description carefully, and use references to key words, skills, etc.; in fact, regurgitate them), so that you will, hopefully, get invited to the initial testing process -- because every single job has one. And then, you must, absolutely must, do well on the tests. As I posted before, the range of results you generally want is to be in the 95th percentile (or higher, preferably), so, the top five percent of the test-takers (and it's not uncommon for there to be hundreds of test-takers). Where you fall in the test rankings determines not only if you will get interviewed at all, but also, often, when/with what priority you will be afforded in the interviewing order or any secondary-panel meetings you may have with those doing the hiring.

    I had a decent amount of success, getting offered (and taking) a couple of long-term temp jobs, including one in county Human Resources, and also, a couple of regular part-time jobs, including two in different county libraries. I also was offered a regular full-time job in the county Clerk & Recorder's office, though I turned it down for one offered at the same time in a county library that was located closer to my home. I also was told once that I would have received an offer from the local Social Services office (I'd had a good interview, and managed to hit it off especially well with the panel despite the straight-jacket-like questions, and we just all liked each other, at least as much as you could have in such a formal setting). But the job they were offering was a long-term temporary one, with the possibility of it becoming permanent, and I had made it clear during the interview that I wasn't interested in another temp job, no matter what. They couldn't assure me that it would become permanent, but I was a finalist anyway. When they called me back with the final decision, though, they told me right out that my hardline bid for a regular job was what cost me.

    Anyway, the point is, there are opportunities galore, even for state jobs (I applied for a couple but didn't have the same necessary initial success as I did on the more-local city and county levels). But the online application and the test-taking is key -- you do become better at it the more you do it, and I was taking them so much for a while that it was probably helping me a lot. All the tests, plus the interview process can make for a lengthy, arduous hiring process , though, and you actually need to have the time for it all. In fact, if you're going to be doing it a lot, and be applying for a lot of different jobs, you almost need to be unemployed!, just so you are free to do things as scheduled!:)
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
  2. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    University jobs are another avenue worth exploring, and not just athletic departments. So many schools have main communications offices, then reps for individual schools (business school, journalism school, etc.), plus alumni associations and foundations and usually magazines out the wazoo too. And don't think that you have to have a bunch of advanced degrees to get in the door.
  3. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    23 years in the biz and I did not balance work and life.

    Work was life and life was work for good and for worse. I loved every minute of the grind.

    Kids who read this post should know that the inability to balance work from life comes with a price.
    HanSenSE likes this.
  4. Bud_Bundy

    Bud_Bundy Active Member

    Agree. The last time I checked, there were four former colleagues working the communications office of one of the local D1 schools. Not the SID office, but the university communications office, and that includes the director.
  5. I'm working more hours in PR than I was in journalism, for what it's worth.
  6. MNgremlin

    MNgremlin Active Member

    This is something I've thought about.

    What is recommended if there are no jobs posted, both in this example and in general? Do you try to reach out anyway, or just wait until a job gets posted?
  7. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Well-Known Member

    From everything I've seen and read, whether in journalism or not, many openings get filled before they ever get advertised (unless they're legally obliged to post them, of course). You might as well reach out, if only to get on their radar.
  8. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Higheredjobs.com is a great resource, you can create a custom search and get emails with listings every day. I work at a public university so all jobs are required to be posted, and at my school and in my department I've seen people with connections get hired but also people with no ties whatsoever get good jobs.
  9. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    This is what you can do for city, county and state jobs, as well. It's a great thing. Makes it so that, once you're set up, you don't actually have to actively "look," yourself, all the time to see if/when jobs you're interested in may be available (although you should probably do that about once a week or two, anyway).
  10. stix

    stix Active Member

    Four tips to the OP:
    1. DONT check your work email on days off. You have to have a life. If you miss something, it’ll be there when you get back. If you have a boss who demands you be plugged in all the time, quit immediately. I’m serious. It’s not worth it.
    2. It’s different as a 1-man shop, I get it. I’m an SE with a staff of two. In that situation, I can’t stress this enough: Train your staff to be autonomous. It’s your job to be the boss, but it’s not your job to hold their hands. If you have a day off and your staff can’t handle the plans you’ve laid out, then frankly it’s you doing the shitty job.
    3. Your social life will suffer. If you want to pursue a relationship or family, let people know up front that you’re gonna work nights, weekends and weird hours. But sometimes having a random Monday afternoon off has its family benefits. Take advantage.
    4. If you don’t already drink, then start.
  11. stix

    stix Active Member

    Have you considered the benefits of working different hours?

    It’s not always ideal, but basically I’ve always been the “day” parent and my wife has been the “night” parent. Our son is 5, and it’s worked well. We just have to make an effort to all spend time together now and then.

    It’s no secret, basically every young family needs 2 incomes now. But I’ve seen plenty of parents who work the same hours sink so much money into day care that’s it not even worth it for one partner to even work.

    If you plan it right, it’ll work out. All jobs have their challenges when it comes to families.
  12. stix

    stix Active Member

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