Sunday, August 31, 2008

Advice from an ex: Staffer No. 1

Staffer No. 1 was among the departed colleagues in the Class of 2004. Like other exes in the series, he also had several different jobs in different departments at different levels at the Dallas Morning News.

1) Don't look back. I was hit in 2004 after years of promotions. I was encouraged, along with everyone else, to apply for openings after the layoff. I spent five months applying for open positions at The News. Most of the trails started off encouraging and many led to interviews, but all ended suddenly, with no explanation other than I was overqualified. So make a clean break; you'll get over it faster.

2) Scouring job boards alone doesn't count. It feels like you're really working the job search when you apply online for 50, 100, even 200 jobs over the period of your search, but it's a shot in the dark that only satisfies your quota for unemployment benefits. Companies pay for so many keyword hits for jobs on Monster and Careerbuilder. Unless your resume is an amazing match, you likely won't even be seen. Belo paid for career counseling back in 2004, and we were told only about 6% to 8% of job-seekers find work through online searching. The job gets won by networking. So build up those LinkedIn and Facebook profiles and connections.

3) It isn't your fault. If you've been at The News since before 2000, it's going to hurt. You experienced The News and the industry at its peak and have worked your best
through the downturn. You'll miss the newsroom and your colleagues. You may have
to move for suitable work. But you didn't do anything wrong. Take your skills
and write your own, more exciting future.

4) You're lucky to get out. That's not my tip. I've visited the paper five times since 2004. Each returning visit, several former colleagues stopped me to say I was "lucky to get out" in the 2004 layoff. It took a long time to start to believe it.

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