Plusses and minuses

Plusses and minuses

I knew almost immediately I’d be willing to leave my beloved Nijmegen, where I had studied, for it

18-04-2024 · Editorial

A thin layer of mist clung to the river Meuse as I crossed the Sint Servaas Bridge on my way to my job interview at Observant a good thirty years ago. It was December, and the city looked stunning. It was so beautiful that I knew almost immediately I’d be willing to leave my beloved Nijmegen, where I had studied, for it.

Different story

After moving here, I discovered that all of South Limburg was unexpectedly beautiful. A lot of people agree with me; they enjoy visiting for a weekend or a week. But it’s a different story when it comes to working and living here, as we realise every time we have a job opening. While our counterparts in the western Netherlands sometimes receive as many as a hundred applications, we consider ourselves lucky to get a third of that. And in times of labour shortage, even that number seemed like an unattainable goal.

Pleasantly surprised

So, we were pleasantly surprised to receive more than twenty applications for the position of junior journalist, a ten-month traineeship for recent bachelor’s or master’s graduates to learn the ropes of the job. We went through their letters, with CVs and sometimes articles attached, around the weekend. On Monday morning, I wrote down a list of candidate names, with my colleagues’ names in a row above it, for the first round of selection. Candidates who didn’t speak Dutch could immediately be eliminated from consideration, as one of the requirements of the job is an excellent command of both Dutch and English. After that, the selection process became more difficult. Some didn’t mention Observant at all in their letters. For all we knew, they had never even visited our website or leafed through our newspaper. Lesson #1 for job applicants: always demonstrate that you’ve done your research on the organisation you’re applying to. Other letters showed that writing wasn’t the applicant’s strong suit. To avoid endless discussions and maintain a degree of objectivity, we used a system of pluses (invite for an interview), minuses (do not invite) and plus-minuses (undecided). Today, we’ll be interviewing the candidates with the most pluses behind their names. I’m sure there will be some nerves on both sides of the table.

Author: Riki Janssen

Photo: Shutterstock

Tags: vacancies,applications,limburg,candidates,junior journalist,journalist

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