Sunday, April 01, 2007

Stay ahead of the pack

Last Thursday I attended the latest event held by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors (CSME). The session was called "Bulletproof Your Career" and featured special guests Kim Pittaway (writer and former editor of Chatelaine) and Laas Turnbull (executive VP of Brunico Communications Inc. and former editor of Report on Business Magazine and Shift).

Here I've paraphrased a few of Laas and Kim's expert tips on how to stay ahead of the pack in the magazine biz:

Figure out what you excel at and sell that. Are you a phenomenal writer, packaging wizard or display copy virtuoso? Do you constantly have your finger on the next big trend? Can you coach and nurture writers to excellence? Figure out what your strengths are and promote that aspect of yourself in your resume, cover letters, interviews and at work. Work at becoming known for what you're good at.

In an industry such as ours, you never know when the next opportunity is going to present itself. Or, for that matter, when circumstances will change and you'll be on the hunt for it. Doing your job well is the best thing you can do to market yourself. This is a small industry and people talk. Editors often pick up the phone to call a friend and find out what what's-his-name is really like. (I've done it myself.) Or, they'll be looking for a person who's particularly good at such-and-such and asking for recommendations. Word-of-mouth is a powerful thing – make sure they're saying good things about you.

By networking -- such as being a part of a community like Ed2010, doing freelance work or volunteering for things like Magazines University or Magazines Canada -- you're making connections in the biz. Again, this industry is small, so getting to know people at other magazines, as well as meeting people in other industries, is important. You never know when you'll be working with them, or when they'll be in a position to lend you a hand (or when you'll be able to help them out). For example, some job opportunities aren't advertised and the only way to find out about them is by word-of-mouth. If you're hooked into the grapevine, you'll hear about those opportunities.

Good luck!

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