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First time applying for SE job, advice?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Jimi41, Jun 19, 2006.

  1. Jimi41

    Jimi41 New Member

    Hi everyone,
    I've spent an obscene amount of time lurking on this site since I discovered it a few months ago and have often found the discussions and debates to be often insightful and entertaining, but have yet to weigh in on any.

    As seems to usually be the case with newbie posters, I come out from the shadows seeking advice on applying for a SE position for the first time. My primary question revolves around the job posting's request for "samples of your work." Are they looking for writing clips, design samples (which I do have, refer to details below), headline samples or all of the above? How many of what do I send?

    The specifics, without going too long here:

    I've been out of J-school and working for about 4 years, mostly sports writing and as a freelance journalist with news, entertainment, business clips to my credit. Now, normally, I think I'd have no business applying for an SE position, but this one is at my current paper, a 25,000 daily. We have a fairly new ME from outside the company, so whether or not he picks from inside the company or goes outside is really anyone's guess. In any event, I feel I have a decent shot and if not, I get the experience of interviewing for an ed. position.

    The reason I think I'm qualified is because I've been at the paper, in a two-man sports dept., for a year now. So I've seen the full revolution, covered every league, every sport and have the necessary contacts now. And I've been designing and laying out pages two days a week because it's such a small dept. I think I've also proved to management I'm an above-average writer (still with a tonne to learn, believe me I know), I'm borderline obsessive about the sports section, have developed a strong connection to the athletes in this community and frankly, I just want control over the effin' section. After seeing the full calendar, I know the shortcomings of the section and have realistic ideas on how to make it better (a lot of which are offshoots of many of the conversations on these boards).

    So, A) what advice can you give on applying for an SE job in general and B) how else can I go about convincing them that while I might not be qualified for any other SE job, I am the best fit for this one. Oh and C) should I mention that I have aspirations of becoming a star in the biz and aiding my personal career trajectory can only help everyone involved because I'll bring Canadian-sized football fields of passion to the job, or does that sound self-serving because I know I should be telling them what I can do for them, not what they can do for me?

    Sorry for the book. Any help is hugely appreciated.
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    For a smaller paper where you may be expected to write. I would include design and writing samples.

    I think for a lot of SE jobs, the main tool they use to judge applicants is a critique of the section.

    That's a balancing act.

    You've gotta have some ideas on improving it or else why would they hire you.

    But if you rip it to shreds, you just piss people off.

    Don't tell them you want to be a star in the biz. Tell them why you are qualified for this job.

    Good luck, but if you get the job, try to ease the throttle on the obsessiveness about the section for the sake of your co-workers.
  3. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    If there's an ad for this job, read it carefully and address the issues brought up in the ad. That'll usually help dictate what types of clips to submit.
  4. WSKY

    WSKY Member

    25,000 circ. daily and only two people. The first thing I would do is tell the ME to hire more staff.
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    You'll never make it as a sports editor then, Whiskey.
  6. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

  7. PEteacher

    PEteacher Member

    I'm assuming there's a slew of regular freelancers who are basically full-timers without bennies.
  8. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    For this job in particular, don't worry what the ad says, you don't have to "send" anything. You're aleawdy in the department.
    Ask to meet with the ME, tell him of your interest in the job, ask him what he needs from you to show that you can do the job. He probably already has some idea of your work if you've been there a year, so that might give you a leg up (or down?).
    Applying for this job internally is totally different than applying for a job outside your current paper.
  9. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    but still go into that meeting with a plan and a list of ideas.
  10. Jimi41

    Jimi41 New Member

    Thanks for the tips guys. I think my ideas on how to handle the section are a good balance between strong journalism and simple ways to get more eye balls on our sports section, which should please the award-oriented ME and publisher both at the same time, that's how I plan to sell myself, mostly. But, you're right spnited, and that's where I struggle, how to handle the internal application versus, well, pretty much every other job I've applied for.

    FYI, the freelance budget is small and, yes, the dept. is utterly understaffed. We have to cut corners in some pretty awful ways.
  11. Beach_Bum

    Beach_Bum Member

    You should outline your vision for the section. Ways it can be better within the current budget constraints. Describe some ways the staff and section can be more efficient. We are not in a climate where you're going to get "more." We are in a climate, from the largest papers to the smallest, where we have to make more with less. Show how you would do that.
  12. Grey

    Grey Member

    don't do it!

    but if u must, it sounds like you should have a very good shot. show them samples of your work as well as things you've seen in larger sections that you'd like to implement (as if u would have the staff to do so!).

    if they want u, then i would negotiate with them about upping the staff to be able to do the things i'm sure you'd like to try.

    good night and good luck (just saw the movie).
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