Graduates beware, the stakes are rising in the hunt for employment — at least in journalism.

On Monday The Full Story website published a press release and video of unemployed recent journalism graduate Rohan Smith under the headline, “300 rejections in four months leads to creative job hunting”.

Rohan had approached The Full Story with the idea of creating a “personal PR” press release after meeting the site’s advisor Michael Riley at a job interview. Rohan told Crikey, “I created a media release, he suggested maybe work with a couple of different mediums, including the video.”

In the video Rohan explains that despite his qualifications he has been unable to find a job in journalism and that his media release, reproduced by Crikey in our Media Briefs section Wednesday, is his attempt to make himself stand out from the crowd.

Rohan, who has actively applied for advertised jobs and cadetships and cold-canvassed media organisations, including from regional areas, told Crikey his “personal PR” was born out of necessity.

“I’m a bit of a shy person naturally, you see. I felt a need to make myself more accessible.”

Rohan Smith is not alone, he only knows two classmates from Monash who have successfully found work in the media since graduation in November last year.

Employment opportunities in traditional media like print and TV were already tending downward last year, but when the Global Financial Crisis arrived and ate advertising revenue, Fairfax canned its cadetship program and laid off hundreds of staff members. News Ltd quickly followed with its own lay-offs.

RMIT’s journalism program director Maree Curtis told Crikey that although it was still too early to tell how the GFC would impact upon media jobs, she usually advised journalism graduates to wait six months before they start panicking.

“The vast majority of graduates who want to work as journalists — around 80% — find jobs within six months,” Curtis said.

“As jobs contract in traditional areas they’re opening in other areas like online.”

Although he has received a lot of encouragement following his personal PR debut, Rohan has not yet been offered a job.

“I’ve had one gentlemen who has called me and encouraged me to apply for a position,” he told Crikey, “I’m hopeful that this will work.”

Rohan, who failed to nab the ABC sports cadetship this year, told Crikey sports is where it’s at for him.

“Dream job? Probably a sports journalist for a large metro newspaper. Or any paper for that matter.”

Peter Fray

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