The internet has replaced traditional media jobs with opportunities in interactive media and digital publishing. Here’s how to get your foot in the door with the media employers who are actually hiring.
Media jobs are attractive career opportunities for recent college grads and communications professionals just starting out in their careers. But the media landscape has shifted, making it even more difficult to land a job in TV, publishing and other fields.
To get hired, communications and journalism majors need to expand their search to include non-traditional media jobs and follow a strategy that helps them stand out from the scores of entry-level jobseekers fighting for paid media positions.
Where Did All the Media Jobs Go?
There aren’t nearly as many traditional media jobs as there used to be. Over the past decade, the internet has displaced traditional media as a primary resource for consumers of news and information in the U.S. and around the world.
According to research conducted by ZenithOptimedia, between 2010 and 2014 consumer spending on internet media grew by 84 percent. During the same time period, consumers decreased the amount they spent on traditional media like TV (-6%), print magazines (-19%) and print newspapers (-25.6%).
The good news is that consumers are spending more than ever on media. But instead of spending their hard-earned dollars on traditional media, they’re spending them on digital media — which (not coincidentally) is the one sector where media jobs are growing in leaps and bounds.
Where Are the New Media Jobs?
With traditional media jobs few and far between, jobseekers are turning to new media employers to launch and advance their careers. The media sector is extremely diverse and offers a variety of jobs for qualified applicants.
Some of the most promising sectors for media jobs currently include:
- Digital Publishing – Demand for digital content is at an all-time high. From online media sites and blogs to e-books and business reports, internet users have an appetite for consuming content on their devices — creating a need for individuals who are skilled at developing, creating and distributing many different types of digital publications.
- Interactive Media – The internet has also created demand for interactive media (games, video, etc.) that allows users to interact with content in ways that weren’t possible through traditional media platforms.
- PR & Digital Marketing – Many media professionals are making the leap from traditional media outlets to public relations and digital marketing agencies that specialize in telling stories for their clients. You won’t win a Pulitzer, but the work can be interesting and it will allow you to earn a living using your creativity and media skills.
Although these sectors offer more job opportunities than traditional media, positions can be low paying. To land a job with a decent salary and the potential for advancement, you’ll need a degree in strategic communication, journalism or digital media as well as internships that demonstrate hands-on experience in the field.
Tips for Landing a Media Job
The media job market continues to be a highly competitive employment landscape. As a media industry jobseeker, you’ll need to cultivate your skill set and strategically position yourself as a quality hire. Here’s how to get started …
Know your industry.
The best media employers value competency. It’s not enough to be capable of doing the job you’re applying for — you need to demonstrate a level of mastery in your chosen profession. Be prepared to provide employers with clips or reels that showcase your abilities.
In addition to knowing your job, you need to know your industry, i.e. the people, trends and conversations that dominate your specific media sector. By investing time and energy in understanding the issues that are important to media employers, you can create an advantage by appearing more informed and intelligent than other candidates.
Is it better to be average at a bunch of things or excel in one or two things? In media, successful job candidates are often the ones that differentiate themselves by specializing in a skill, market or media format.
For example, a journalist with a proven track record in a specific beat is preferable to an all-purpose writer that has never specialized in the media outlet’s area of focus. Similarly, for online publications, an editor with digital publishing experience is a much better hire than an experienced print editor.
Do yourself a favor: Find your niche and look for ways to effectively communicate it to prospective employers.
Consider freelance opportunities.
In today’s media environment, freelance or gig work is how many professionals get their feet in the door with top employers. While some media pros find that they actually prefer the lifestyle of an independent contractor and freelance long term, others take the freelance-to-full time route and use contract work as a stepping stone to a salaried position.
One of the benefits of freelance work is that creates opportunities for professionals to routinely interact with executives and decision makers. With the right approach, a gig is never just a gig — it’s a chance to prove yourself to a full-time employer.