No wonder I can’t get a job, Part 37

Image result for frustrationI don’t know how much time I’ve spent signing up for various job sites. Each time you find a position that seems to fit your experience and interest, there is the virtual paperwork to fill out from the outfit that posts the offering. Invariably, one has to provide the usual contact information. Some allow you to simply upload a resume while others require that PLUS the arduous task of keying in the exact same information.

Then there are the keywords. Some sites are good about suggesting enough of them to make your search fairly comprehensive and accurate; others, not so much, especially for my hunt, which includes things like “editorial,” “journalism,” and “writing,” among others.

So I recently signed up with The New York Times‘ job section (remember when they actually used to print want ads?), going through all the data points and this is what they came up with for me: SENIOR INTERPRETER, RUSSIAN, P5 – New York, NY.  I won’t go into the seemingly countless details of the job description; suffice it to say, it’s definitely not something I’m qualified to do, although my French is pretty good.

I appreciate the confidence the Times‘ methodology has in my abilities, but as much as I need the work, I think I’ll take a pass on this one. And if this is how the “employment bots” figure out the kinds of jobs to which I’m suited, it’s gonna be a long haul.

Image result for russian translator

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Fine whine

When I created this blog, it was with people like me in mind: middle-aged (and perhaps a bit beyond) people in the media, ideally the print industry that’s been fading away for the past several years. But I guess it could apply to anyone of a certain age whose job has been phased out either because of technological advancements or just a lack of interest in that particular field by consumers.

Image result for older job worriesIt’s like health I guess: for years I was healthy and athletic. Knock wood, I’ve never had to spend a night at the hospital for myself. But then I developed tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, and an arthritic back in a relatively brief span of time that’s greatly reduced my activity level. That, in turn, has led to some weight gain which has lead to a sense of depression — an unfortunate spiral. The point it, you take a lot for granted. You never think “x” will happen to you. Until it does.

So younger readers might think, “Man, that’s just the whining of an old man.” (Remember when you were a kid and thought 30 was old?) Hate to break it to you, lads and lassies, but this will be you someday.

Of course, the whole work paradigm is different from it was when me and my homies were fresh out of school. In those days, you could still expect to get a job and hold onto it for 30 years and then retire. I’ve basically had just two — one 22 years in duration, the other 12. (Holy Sh#t, I’ve been working for over three decades?!?) Nowadays, from what I understand, a person changes every three years or so.

So many of the situations I’ve seen from the numerous job sites seem to have at least one requirement that eliminates me as a candidate, regardless of how many of the others I possess. I guess that makes sense: when you’re employed, you frequently don’t pay attention to the new trends. And so when you do lose a job, you’re lagging in what potential hirers are seeking. How do you catch up, and when you do, how do you get someone to give you a shot?

Demanding job ad of the day: Food editor

Author’s Note: Submitted for your perusal, the first in a new “series.”

Still not gainfully employed, but I keep on looking… and looking… and looking.

I’m on several job sites and each day provides at least one opportunity that strikes me as very specific in its requirements. To be fair, many of them are totally understandable  while others speak to a different language/generation of writers. Here’s the latest, with some of the details removed.  Once again, the writing no longer seems to be for its own sake, but primarily to get eyes on the page and hold them there.

Job title: Senior Editor, Food

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Job Duties (abbreviated version)

* Conceive and sustain original text & video franchises that can thrive online, across social platforms and on air.

* Translate show segments into digital wins. (emphasis added)

* Act as a digital stakeholder during multi-day show series and events. (emphasis added)

* Must have deep knowledge of the digital food space, its competitors and innovations. (emphasis added)

* An innate ability to tailor content to platforms and audiences, from (employer)  to Pinterest to Facebook to newsletters to social video.

* Strong understanding of how stories are shared and consumed differently across digital, social, mobile and email platforms, and ability to use analytics, to help guide story selection and distribution.

* Must have a rich portfolio of skills that demonstrates strong and fast writing and editing. Portfolio should include examples of clever and SEO-friendly headlining, strong social media skills, and light multimedia skills (resizing images, creating social videos). (emphasis added)

Look, maybe this is just the new normal. I used to be very good at keeping up. I don’t know when all these technology passed me by.

If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry

Not surprisingly, my spidey sense kicks in when I hear something on a TV show about the state of journalism that is meant to be bitingly funny. Sure, if you’re not one of the people affected by the downturn in the industry. Other than that, I can easily imagine a subdued reaction from the audience, if there’s one at all.

John Oliver did a segment on Last Week Tonight a while back…

Yesterday it was Samantha Bee’s turn on Full Frontal.

I was at an event at the Yogi Berra Museum a few years back that featured a roundtable of sportswriters talking about the job. It was ostensibly held for journalism students at Montclair State University, where the museum is located. I was working at NJ Jewish News at the time, but the writing was on the wall (heh) even then and I felt sadness in my heart for these kids. They might have had good intentions in their goals, but they were definitely heading in the wrong direction. I doubt if anyone is going to look at journalism as an artisanal endeavor, like using a loom or making cheese.

Returning to the scene of the crime

As you might have noticed, I haven’t been posting for a while (did you miss me?). Part of it was laziness, part of it was being busy looking for work. I actually thought I had addressed the second issue, but it seems I was wrong.

A brief explanation: I have basically had two jobs in my adult life. The first started as a temp situation that turned into a 22-year stay. The second was just a casual conversation about additional freelance writing assignments that blossomed into 12 years as a writer/editor. Both positions ended through no fault of my own, the first for a re-organizational downsizing, the second when the newspaper was taken over by another publication. point is, I’m not used to looking for work and this process has been an education, to say the least. A lot of friends have offered well-meaning suggestion, but they operating under what has become outdated methods. “Networking” is the key word; unfortunately, most of the people in my network are in the same situation: veteran writers who have few options since traditional newspapers are circling the drain.

Image result for seoI must be on about a half-dozen job sites, looking for various combinations of writing and editing. Problem is, very few companies seem to be interested in a) the type of writing and editing I’ve been doing for the past decade-plus; b) anything but writing specifically in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and numerous analytics; and c) paying a decent wage.

Here’s a representative posting for the second point:

Responsibilities include:

  • Top editing every piece of content that gets published on the site daily, including headlines, making sure each piece is optimized for SEO
  • Leading key editorial initiatives, acting as a project lead
  • Writing newsy content and/or longer features on a weekly basis
  • Working closely with all members of our team including audience dev and SEO, presenting weekly reports to the editorial team on traffic and strategy based on post performance
  • Being the “standards keeper” for our editorial content, ensuring consistency across teams

And here’s an example of the last item:

– Complete a minimum of 2500 words per day (6 days per week).
– Your starting pay will be $0.50 per 100 words.

Just for context, that’s about 10 pages, double-spaced.

So if my math is correct — and that’s never a given — that’s $12.50 A DAY. And how much do you think the rate of payment will increase? Even if it’s doubled, that’s $25.

Look, I get it: there’s a ton of competition out there and companies are fighting to pry eyes away from other sites. Plus they want to save money. But I find it incredibly disheartening and not a little bit insulting that this is what potential employers are offering.

You know what, folks? You get what you pay for. I’m sure there are a lot of students who are looking to pad their resumes with “professional writing” credits. All this comes with a price when it comes to quality, but, sadly, it seems that fewer and fewer people care.

Does anyone know if Trader Joe’s is hiring? I already have a Hawaiian shirt.