How the NABJ Conference Helped Me Land My Job

Multimedia journalist John W. Davis tell us how the 2011 NABJ conference helped him to land his reporting job in Orlando. Don’t forget that the deadline for early registration to the NABJ conference ends midnight EST on May 15. 

When I arrived at the Philadelphia International Airport for the NABJ Convention & Career Fair in August 2011, I quickly boarded a SEPTA train headed for Downtown Philadelphia.

John W. Davis succeeded in finding another job after the NABJ 2011 conference.


As I took my seat, I ran into a friend who was also headed downtown to pick up his registration for the conference.

During our 30 minute ride to the Convention Center, we discussed our current work situations, and I joked with him, “I’m going to walk away from the career fair with a new job.”

He laughed at me, and I laughed at myself because I knew I still had three months left on my employment contract.

Realistically, I knew I would not leave Philadelphia with my next job lined up.

However, I was certain I would meet my employer at the career fair.

I had spent the days before the conference printing out extra resumes, and burning and labeling dozens of video resume reel DVD’s.

It was my first NABJ conference and I was ready to go.

My contract as a News Reporter/Multimedia Journalist in Fort Wayne, Indiana would be up in the three months and I was ready to ‘wow’ someone at the career fair and begin the process of landing my next job.

Over the next two days, I spent most of my time at the career fair, sat through about a dozen resume reel critiques and at the end of the conference I did not have a solid lead on my next job.

John came dressed for success at the NABJ Career Fair

At the time, I wish I had spent more time attending more of the seminars that I had circled in my conference schedule booklet.

When I went back to work, I took about a week to reflect and as I was looking over my notes, I realized all the managers who critiqued my work practically told me the same thing… “your standups should be more active, and your stories should be centered around people.”

Those were two tips I already knew from Journalism school.

However, those ideals did not translate onto my video resume reel because I had gotten away from that style in the grind and hustle of daily reporting.

So I went back to work with a renewed focus, centered on the tips and advice I learned specifically at the NABJ Career Fair.

I did my best to implement what I learned into my daily reporting.

In mid-September 2011, I was ready to make another job push.

I made sure my resume was concise and I re-edited my video resume reel with a focus on active stand ups in my standup montage and stories centered around people that displayed my reporting style and skills.

In early October 2011, I was already hearing back from potential employers and by mid-October, I accepted a new job as a Reporter/Video Journalist at Central Florida News 13 in Orlando, Florida.

In my short time in Orlando, I have had the opportunity to cover several national stories including the FAMU hazing investigation regarding the death of Drum Major Robert Champion and the Trayvon Martin Death Investigation / George Zimmerman legal case.

Now, the way I found my current job did not come from any direct connections to the NABJ Career Fair.

I saw an online job posting and I applied for my current position.

However, I believe I was qualified and able to get this job because I translated the tips and advice from NABJ Conference & Career Fair.

I also networked during the conference and before I began sending out my updated video resume reel, I asked several experienced NABJ members to give my video resume reel a second look.

Those final suggestions of what order my stories should appear on my video resume reel were exactly the final touches I needed to land my current job.

So here’s my final advice about the NABJ Career Fair, have an open mind, take notes, meet as many people as you can and don’t be discouraged if you do not land your next job during the conference.

In my opinion, the advice you can learn from discussing your work with a plethora of hiring managers is worth the price of NABJ registration, your hotel stay and your airfare, twice over.

I’m also a proponent of attending the annual conference when you’re not looking for a job, so I’ll see you in June in New Orleans for 2012 NABJ Convention and Career Fair.

John W. Davis can be reached via email at johnwalterdavis@gmail.com. You can also follow John W. Davis on Twitter @johnwdavis.

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