By Brooke Carbo
The University of Alabama
With the news industry in a prolonged state of transition, it’s no surprise that finding and keeping a job was a hot topic of conversation at many ACES sessions during the 16th national conference in New Orleans. Nowhere was that more true than in the Saturday afternoon panel discussion, “How Do I Get There? Copy Editing Beyond the Newsroom.”
The panel of editors from the worlds of business, academia, PR and government shared advice for copy editors who may be looking to break out of the newsroom — or those still struggling to break in.
As with any job hunt, networking is crucial. Job seekers were encouraged to keep up with former colleagues who may have moved into other industries as well as to take advantage of social media tools like LinkedIn and Twitter.
The Capital Group’s Christine Steele recommended Twitter users follow people with a wide range of interests in order to learn about fields they aren’t familiar with yet. And because job openings are often tweeted before going public, followers will be the first to hear about opportunities in other fields.
Steele cautioned not to play too fast and loose with the friend button, however. A Facebook or LinkedIn request from a potential employee may come off as more cyber-stalker than go-getter.
Regina McDowell of the Department of Defense advised copy editors looking for a position with the government to add the phrase “public communications officer” to their online search terms.
All the panelists stressed the importance of tailoring resume buzzwords and cover letters to fit the language of not just the job but also the industry.
As questions from the audience began rolling in, experts in attendance chimed in with helpful tips as well. One hiring manager recalled an applicant with a less than stellar resume who got an interview (and ultimately the job) thanks to a cover letter that began, “I love grammar so much, I have a semicolon tattoo. Just don’t ask me where.”
Another said that many a ho-hum resume has moved to the top of his pile after an impressive follow-up phone call.
But if you’ve tried everything and still can’t land the job you want, take a cue from a former zoo bus driver. Create your own position. After pointing out a number of errors on the company website, the bus driver-turned-ACES member is now the zoo’s first official on-staff copy editor.