So, like every twentysomething (soon to be thirtysomething), I'm always on the lookout for something new and exciting in terms of career. I'm currently employed in the field that I want to work in, for a trade publication, however; I'm hourly and not salaried, with no benefits. While I have no complaints regarding my co-workers, rate of pay or difficulty of job, I'm obsessed with journalism, media and writing, in general. I have journalist heroes. Guys like Robert Graysmith, Paul Avery, Dexter Filkins, David Sirota, Jimmy Breslin and countless others. Those are just the ones off the top of my head, anyway. I'm obsessed with the notion of a large-scale investigation, digging deep into a story and uncovering the truth. Writing about crime and the NSA has become something of an obsession as of late.
As I'm always on the lookout for something new and exciting, I'm approached by freelance outlets, both online and in print, to write something. Whether it's a tech piece for Popular Mechanics, a trending news piece for a local news website, an event in the Hamptons, or a movie review, I'm game to write anything, as long as my rates are met adequately. That said, every once in a while, I'll be asked to submit a cover letter for a potential full or part-time job, which I'm happy to send along.
I've never been good at writing cover letters. Ever. I don't know what it is that freaks me out about them so much, but I just suck at them. I'll give you an example of a recent cover letter I wrote to a hip news outlet that had some specific criteria of what they wanted (this was for a part-time position, on the weekends and one evening a week and they asked for "informal"):
"Hello Mr. _____,
My name is Robert Ottone and I'm currently a senior editor with ____________, a trade publication dedicated to the ______ industry. I took a gander around your site and noticed that you're looking for editors and journalists, so I figured I'd send over a resume, some references and some clips.
As there are a few different requirements for the various positions, I hope I can cover them all here (within 500 words, no less, while demonstrating a firm grasp of AP style).
Three best stories I've read this week:
Deadliest Frat - This was one of the more fascinating looks at frat culture I've seen. Something that doesn't make sense. How are people friends after hazing? That seems crazy to me.
Drumming - Neat little piece on human drum machines and the "rise" of technology in music.
Terrorist Spending - Though it's an AP story, the spin Gawker gives this cracks me up.
Three worst stories I've read this week:
Gawker's Top Stories of 2013 - Yuck. A collection of clickbait absurdity centered around sex and buzzworthy folks.
Sponsored By Netflix - How is this even worthy of HuffPo's homepage? I used to really love these guys, but this is ridiculous. It's barely even a list. BuzzFeed could do better in their sleep.
Gawker's Least Popular Stories of 2013 - Probably because I feel like the writer who has the most entries on this list was fired for having the least "clicks," but either way, the idea of highlighting an SEO failure seems awful to me.
As you can see, I get my daily news from all over the place, but I do love Gawker, Bloomberg and WSJ. I've also become a fan of Motley Fool, Naked Capitalism and a few other financial/business sites.
Even if there's some kind of freelance position available, I'd love to be part of what you guys are doing. It's an awesome site, really well-designed and really savvy. I can get behind the concept of a news site for my generation. I like that a lot.
Anyways, here are a few links to some of my work (I'm sure I'm over 500 words, btw):
Gilgo Beach - Little piece I did on the anniversary of Gilgo Beach.
Obamacare - A pretty basic Obamacare piece.
Director of Drive - The director of everyone's favorite Gosling movie threatened to kill me.
I'd be happy to provide more.
Thanks very much!"
Now, I sent over this cover letter over a week ago and haven't heard back. I understand folks are busy, so that's fine. This is where I stumble, once I struggle through the cover letter. Do I follow-up email? Is that annoying? I don't know. I don't know how this stuff works. I haven't had much difficulty getting the jobs that I've gotten in my life, it's typically been a two interview process with me starting the following week.
When I worked in Manhattan, I got the job almost right away, started the following Friday. It was weird. While it wasn't for the most reputable organization, I did like working there, just not the lengthy commute and my complete befuddlement at using the NYC subway system. It just doesn't click with me. Never has. Probably never will.
More often than not, I send out the following simple resume:
As someone with extensive experience blogging, as well as working as a senior editor and a freelance journalist, I feel I would make an excellent candidate for _____.com.
I've received extensive SEO training in my time with the _________, as well as in my current position as senior editor of _______. I'm also a bit of a social media virtuoso.
I'd be happy to provide references, as well as clips of my journalism and blogging career.
Thanks very much,"
"Social media virtuoso?" I don't even know what that is, but this particular outlet asked that someone be proficient with social media, which, to me, means, knows how to post things to various social media outlets, which I totes can do. I've used this resume as a template of sorts, as it's easy to adjust here and there and adapt it for any average journalism gig. But again, my responses seem few and far between.
What am I doing wrong? Am I just working in the wrong business? Journalist was voted worst job in America in 2012, I forget by who, so, that seems like it might be the case.