Local newspaper editor Alan Geere seems like a man who hates time wasters. The editor in chief of the Essex Chronicle Media Group has become so sick of ‘wading through turgid letters of application’ from job seekers that he’s asking people to keep it short and apply for vacancies using Twitter.
On his blog, he said: “I’m fed up wading through turgid ‘letters of application’ and monstrous CVs outlining an early career in retail handling and a flirtation with the upper slopes of the Andes.
“I want reporters who can find stories that no-one else has got and write them quickly and accurately.
“That’s why in my latest recruitment ad potential recruits have to respond via Twitter. They’ve got 140 characters* to tell me what they can do and why I should consider them.
“I keep getting told there is an over-supply of qualified people wanting to do journalism. Well, maybe there is but there’s definitely not an over-supply of people who are any good.”
It’s certainly a test of any reporters’ ability to ‘cut to the quick’, which is an important journalistic attribute. But it appears that some are not making the best use of 140 characters. This application from one job seeker, however, is great and has resulted in some instant profile for the sender.
No boss of mine has appreciated the ‘dear sir or madam’ generic letters that have frustrated Geere. They fail one of the most obvious rules of applying for jobs: find out who the boss is and write to them directly. If people can’t be bothered to do that, why would bosses even bother to read beyond the first line, let alone begin to wade through the letter? But, while tweeting may save some time, it also has its limits (as others have said).
The most obvious one is the public nature of tweets, as opposed to DMs, which would discourage many good reporters employed on other newspapers from applying. There are also plenty of turgid tweets to wade through, even if the length of them is considerably reduced. I wonder if Geere has had any ‘lol this picture of you had me in stitches!!!!’ tweets in response to his ad yet.
Not much of my newspaper work is online. But if I was applying for jobs on his paper, I think the best way to demonstrate my abilities would have been send links to published articles, explaining that I ‘scooped the nationals with this last week’ rather than using phrases like ‘100 wpm shorthand’ or ‘7 years experience’, which reveal very little about one’s ability. Making the most of one’s Linked-in profile is another option, as is sending a link to a video hosted on YouTube, but how public is that!
I wouldn’t have wanted my editor to see the application being made anyway. I’ll be interested to see how the exercise goes.