Lately I’ve been talking to job candidates. A lot of them.
It wasn’t so long ago that the process of hiring in my industry was pretty straightforward.
You could get a rough fix on a person’s qualifications based on a quick scan of the résumé and a careful read of his or her body of work. The vast majority of applicants fell neatly on a journalistic continuum, one whose progression was well established.
The biggest challenge was figuring out whether to draft the best athlete or try to fill an obvious weakness.
Hiring is a lot more complicated. Journalism is a lot more complicated.
Careers these days follow no standard trajectory. The digital revolution and the Great Recession have jumbled our orderly universe.
Journalists don’t just write for print. They must publish — fast — for the Web, take photos, star in their own videos and Tweet before their first cup of coffee in the morning.
They must be familiar with search engine optimization.
Be ready to ideate.
Can you tell a story in one chart? Build a listicle?
Few can do it all, and comparing candidates is no easy task.
He wrote a prize-winning narrative. She files 14 stories a day for a blog.
Who’s more valuable?
I don’t think journalism is unique in such trade-offs. The demands for skills can rise and fall as fast as technology trends. These days, it’s easy to make a lot of bad hiring decisions if you become too focused on short-term needs. Then again, if you don’t pay attention to what’s happening now, there may be no future.
I’m not complaining. The process of sorting through what is important might not be easy, but it is essential if a business is to stay fresh and relevant. The job of talent assessment is essentially the job of figuring out where you want to go.