BoSacks: How to Keep Your Job in Today’s Changing Publishing World
The last thing anyone wants during this unique transition period in publishing is to be downsized and out of work. Yet, it is an ongoing trend for publishers to minimize the workforce and still publish on a regular periodic time table. So, I offer you some tips on how to not only stay employed, but to prosper and grow.
I’m not going to lecture you on the niceties of corporate cubicle etiquette, ridiculous office romances, chronic corporate complaining or the needs of showering before you go to work. If you have any of those problems, put this magazine down now and start to clean out your desk, because there is nothing I or anyone else can do to help you. On the other hand, if you have the desire to grow, learn and thrive in publishing, listen up. There are some simple rules that will have positive long-term career results.
In this world of ours, everything is layered like an onion, and no man is an island. By that, I mean that you have at least two lives, not one: your home life and your work life. In the work world you also have two lives: the one you have now and the one you will have in the future. In 21st-century publishing, it is highly unlikely that you will retire from the job you have today. So your two jobs are trying to keep the one you have now and preparing for the one you will have in the future. Think of the work you do today as preparation for the work you will do at you next job.
You have three choices. Stagnate and stay in the position you have (those people get fired first), keep your eye on your immediate supervisor’s position, or get a job elsewhere.
What you really want for your next job is a promotion. That might mean that you want your boss’s job. What do you need to know to do your boss’s job? Remember that all bosses also either get their boss’s job, get fired or get laid off. And as nature hates a vacuum, you must be in the right spot with the correct credentials, willing and able to take the opening spot on the roster.
2 tips for keeping your job and advancing your career
1. Understand that publishing is a process. It has a beginning, middle and an end. Where are you in that process? Do you fully understand it? Do you know what happens before and after your involvement?
Take the blinders off and complete your education of the entire publishing process. Editors, do you understand production? Ad sales, do you have a clue about the manufacturing process? Production people, do you understand circulation? (OK, that was a trick question—nobody understands circulation, including circulators.)
To excel in your career, you should at least be familiar with the languages of the other departments with which you work. The industry is changing. We are putting out more and more magazines with fewer and fewer people. Publishing personnel and the various departments are multitasking and blending. Columnists are now writers, typesetters and editors. Artists need to understand production page specifications and sometimes act as production people. Editors sometimes do page make-up and Web development. Good production personnel speak all publishing languages. We are a growing group of skill-blended professionalism.
I really believe that knowledge is power. Industry knowledge is employment power.
Imagine yourself on your next interview. If you can speak knowledgeably of the entire process, you are a more desirable candidate. Knowing what the other departments actually do is important. Inter-department communication and knowledge facilitates successful and efficient teamwork.
2. Network and join professional organizations. If your company won’t pay for it, pay for it yourself. As I mentioned, your current job is only a part of your career. A good professional group has the collective intelligence of the entire industry. They are a tremendous resource. If you have a question or stumble upon an unfamiliar situation, someone in that group knows the answer. If you ever get that pink slip, they know where the new jobs are. Professional organizations are important on many levels, not the least of which is exposure with your contemporaries.
Essentially, you have either a job or a career. Career people stay employed. You must always be working on your career. Stay alert and continue to educate yourself about your industry.
Bob Sacks is a consultant to the printing/publishing industry and president of The Precision Media Group (www.BoSacks.com). He is publisher and editor of a daily, international e-newsletter, “Heard on the Web.” Sacks has held posts as director of manufacturing and distribution, senior sales manager (paper), chief of operations, pressman, cameraman and corporate janitor.