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From the editor's desk: You're hired!
July 10, 2019 | 10:31 PM
by Charles Lavery
 
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Looking for a job? Fresh out of college and eager to crack on with earning some money and getting your toe on that all important first rung of the career ladder?

You are not alone — and that’s something you should always bear in mind. So, how to stand out from the crowd? Every other day I receive emails from people keen to start a career in media. I have some tips to help ensure you do not stand out from the crowd for all the wrong reasons.

We spend a lot of our time touring the various media schools in the Sultanate looking for new talent. We have hired many excellent young journalists.

In fact, our newsroom here at Times now has more Omani staff than expats (take note all those who label us Times of India every time we print a story from there) and it gives us a vibrant and mixed newsroom where young Omanis can pitch their ideas and stories can flourish.



The problem is, that for every good young journalist we find, at least five will be rejected. There are some standard reasons for this. We ask everyone who wants to work here to come visit us for a short time, on expenses only. That way, we can look at them and their work and, just as importantly, they can look at us and our way of doing things, before deciding to commit.

I describe this as the first hurdle. Deciding to work for two weeks is a serious commitment — those who agree to it are serious about a career. Lots of young people, Omanis and expats alike, say no.



They fall at the very first hurdle. The next hurdle is timekeeping. Journalists must turn up to events on time, and so we have to have that discipline. After two late arrivals, raw recruits are told to go home. Some don’t even bother to turn up.

They also have to send 250 words on why they want to be a journalist, and are given a deadline of a day. Most do not hit the deadline and many copy-paste from various sections of the world wide web, rather than sitting down and actually writing.

Interestingly, females tend to fare better than males. I recall one young man who walked into my office unannounced and declared: “I will write one story a week and send it only to you. You can then publish it.”

No thanks, close the door on your way out. Another issue I see constantly is the inability to write a proper covering letter or email. Some people simply send their internship documents with no cover or intro.

All of this makes you stand out from the crowd for all the wrong reasons. Be polite, introduce yourself, write clearly, commit to an unpaid period so both sides can gauge the other, and send story ideas.

It also helps to actually visit the website and read the newspaper before you apply, as I’ve lost count of the number of story pitches received where we have already published the content.

I started my career as a “copy boy”, someone who ran errands for reporters and editors. I had to go collect dry cleaning and cigarettes for the editor, but I was in a real, live newsroom, and it was wonderful.

It also helped me gain admission to college and in my first two jobs, as both editors had also started as “copy boys” in the industry.

Remember — you’re not entitled to a job. Where there is a choice, the job will go to the most professional, honest and credible candidate. You have to ensure that candidate is you. Stand out from the crowd — for the right reasons! And, if you’d like to have a try-out, see my email below.

[email protected]



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