This is a great piece from The Atlantic. The author talks about the difference between the skills a reporter used to need versus what he demands of young reporters today.
“What we’re looking for, I’ve come to realize, is people who can do a bit of everything: report and write stories; write headlines and decks; select and crop photos; fact check and copy edit the work of others; make charts and graphs; oversee social media; manage outside writers. (And hey, can you do some coding?)
This transition from vertical job descriptions to horizontal job descriptions is perhaps the most profound change in newsrooms that are full of change.
But the new world prizes other skills, too. The best hires possess a kind of creativity and entrepreneurialism that my peers and I surely didn’t have at that age. Today’s young web journalists are learning to frame and write stories in innovative ways. And as smart at they are, they’re also playful, ready to bring some fun to the game.
We also look for a candidate’s ability to make lateral connections across topics. In interviewing business writers, we might ask about tax policy and retail trends but we’re most interested in how candidates think about non-business topics—and whether they have the instinct to apply a business or economics lens to everyday subjects.”
What I like about this piece is that the attributes he mentions don’t just apply to reporters, but many types of jobs that young people take in today’s world. Many young employees take jobs that require them to do a bit of everything too—what one employer once explained to me as doing everything from organizational strategy to window washing. Young people haven’t had years to hone their skills, and they are rarely experts. What employers are really looking for are team players and a willingness to learn and do almost anything asked of them. It’s okay if you’ve never done the task required of you as long as you put a smile on your face and promise to learn and try your best.
He also mentions the need to make lateral connections across topics. This is a huge asset for any employee—the ability to see how an issue in your department or sector impacts other departments or sectors and to synthesize and analyze multiple forms of data from a range of sources.
Today, the demand on young workers is to be generalists. But how will this impact future jobs and job descriptions? Will the shift from vertical to horizontal jobs that he writes about apply only to jobs for young workers, or for all future lower and senior-level jobs? If senior-level jobs remain more specialized, will the young employees who increasingly work as generalists be prepared?
What do you think?