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Ask James Caan – Issue 60

Written by Kimberley Startup | August 16, 2011 | 0 Comments

James Caan Online RecruitmentDear Member,

I’m pleased to announce that next week’s column will see the next of our guest columnists, with Jonathan Jenkins taking the hot seat.

Jonathan – Director of Ventures at UnLtd (, the UK’s largest supporter of start-up/early stage social entrepreneurs – will be taking questions concerning social investment.

UnLtd provides social entrepreneurs with cash awards and practical support that includes coaching, training and networking opportunities to help them develop community projects. And with over 15 years’ experience in fundraising for SMEs from his City career, Jonathan is the ‘go-to’ man for this area.

For the chance to appear in next week’s column, please send your questions to

Back to the column, and this week I’m discussing the challenges of making it in the media industry, thanks to an email form Vivienne.

Vivienne tells me she’s been unemployed for a year, having worked within the public sector in posts such as service management, programme support and corporate governance. When she applied to university, she wanted to pursue a course in radio journalism; but she missed out on the chance and had to go with another unrelated choice.

Whilst at university, she remained interested in media projects, with involvement in bands, producing CDs and presenting on hospital radio shows. The need to pay the bills saw her leave this area for paid employment.

Since being unemployed she has revisited her passion by presenting a daily news show and weekly chat show within her local community. This has involved being featured in the press, writing jingles and more recently, singing.

Her question to me is: Is it too late to change careers at my age from a desk job to a job in the media?

Vivienne, your situation shows how the recession has made us re-think what’s important in life. Whilst it has thrown many into the deep end, it has also provided a great platform to look at what it is you want, both personally and professionally.

The media industry is one of the hardest sectors to make your mark. Publishing houses, magazines, newspapers, TV and now the digital revolution – it’s an exciting place to work. The reality, however, is far from the glitz and glamour people assume it to be.

It’s never too late to change careers, but you are entering a highly competitive industry. One thing that will really give you the edge, however, is capitalising on the experience you have gained and really using it to your advantage.

If you are considering a career in radio, you are absolutely right by starting on a local level. Local commercial stations and hospital radio are home to many of today’s radio stars who put in the hours – taking on whatever slot they could.

What type of job do you have your sights set on? For example, radio broadcast assistants will help with the production of radio programmes. Typical activities will include researching, planning and producing as well as technical tasks, interviewing and selecting music. This really will depend on the size of the station, but perhaps your existing skill set would set you apart from your competition?

Perhaps you are more interested in pursuing the presenter or producer route? Again, these are highly competitive roles – but with persistence and networking, finding an opportunity may be closer than you think.

Don’t go in blind – talk to the station managers and find out what makes a good recruit, or perhaps find the job description of the role you wish to pursue and see what traits and experience is required. If you’re already volunteering in this setting, I’m sure your contacts will be more than happy to help.

If anyone within the group is from the radio industry, or has experienced a similar predicament, please share your advice and tips.

Best of luck, Vivienne,


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