Tuesday, December 15, 2009

be clear!

As Strunk and White have said, "Clarity, clarity, clarity."
Muddiness is not merely a disturber of prose, it is also a destroyer of life, of hope: death on the highway caused by a badly worded road sign, heartbreak among lovers caused by a misplaced phrase in a well-intentioned letter, anguish of a traveller expecting to be met at a railroad station and not being met because of a slipshod telegram.
To this list I would add the missed networking connection or opportunity to prove that you're right for a job because you failed to explain in an email that that's what you're looking for. "Think of the tragedies that are rooted in ambiguity, and be clear!"

Every week I receive an email or two from hopeful applicants looking for a job or an internship at my company. What astounds me is when an applicant fails to simply state that that's what he/she wants. He/she will tell me a little bit about him/herself, and will attach a resumé, but I'll be left wondering whether he/she is interested in an internship, a job or just career advice.

As the author of this blog, I also receive many queries about the magazine industry, with editor wannabes sending bios and resumés my way. But likewise, sometimes I have no idea what they're asking for. Do they want me to make an introduction? Do they think I'm a hiring agency? Do they want me to do a resumé critique? (I don't do this, by the way, so don't ask.) 

Unless you clearly tell me why you're contacting me, I can't help you. And usually I won't be bothered to reply and ask you to clarify. Just like any other hiring manager, HR professional or editor to whom you're sending your resumé, I'm just going to hit Delete.

Do yourself a favour so your email doesn't end up in the trash: be clear!

Monday, December 14, 2009

6 interview tips from the pros

On November 26, Ed2010 Toronto hosted a panel discussion and workshop on how to nail a job interview. Dishing on the good and the bad were guests Bonnie Munday, editor of Best Health; Megan Griffith-Greene, who as head of research at Chatelaine has hired many, many interns; and Jenny Pruegger of Transcontinental Media, who interviews candidates for most of the publisher's english-language magazines. Here's a taste of what they had to say.

1. Know the magazine. The most common – and stupidest – mistake Griffith-Greene sees is people who come into the interview not having familiarized themselves with the publication. The interviewer isn't going to believe that you want to work there if you haven't bothered to read the magazine. Read at least three back issues, though reading more will give you a better understanding of the topics covered and tone of the title.

2. Have examples. I'm not talking clippings here. Pruegger recommends that you arm yourself with stories of times that you've demonstrated the necessary skills. It's not good enough to say that you perform well under pressure; explain how you still got things done without sacrificing quality when the deadline was moved up by two weeks, for example. Pay particular attention to examples that demonstrate the skills that are listed in the job posting. What you did and what the result was is a good indicator of how you would react in a similar situation in the future.

3. Anticipate questions. There are some standard interview questions that you'll likely be asked, such as Why do you want to work here? Tell me a little about yourself. Where do you see yourself in five years? Prepare answers for these questions so you're not stuck with a blank look on your face or saying something not so great.

4. Be a superstar. Griffith-Greene was impressed by a candidate who pulled out a sticky-note–riddled copy of Chatelaine filled with comments when asked what she did/didn't like about the magazine. Munday was impressed by a candidate who created a mock magazine all about herself, with cover lines and articles selling her talents and qualifications.

5. Ask questions. A candidate who doesn't ask questions won't appear to be that interested in the job, but make sure what you ask is appropriate. For example, asking what kind of team it is shows that you're a team player and, if the editor is the one interviewing you, gives you some insight to how he/she values his/her staff. Asking if you'll be able to write for competitors is inappropriate, says Munday, especially if you haven't been offered the job yet.

6. Interact with everyone who is interviewing you. If you're being interviewed by a panel, respect all people in the room. If one person asks you a question, make eye contact and respond to him/her directly; don't ignore him/her by replying only to the person, like the editor, whom you think is the one making the final decision.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ed2010 job interview event update

For those interested in coming to just the panel discussion part of Thursday's Nail It: Job Interview Workshop presented by Ed2010 Toronto, we've opened up the first part of the night to allow more people to attend.

For $5, you can Join Ed2010 Toronto for the panel discussion part of the evening on how to improve your job interview skills, with special guests Bonnie Munday of Best Health, Megan Griffith-Greene of Chatelaine and Jenny Pruegger of Transcontinental Media.

For $25, meet individually with one of these top magazine professionals for a one-on-one conversation to test out their interview advice.

Thursday, November 26
$5 panel discussion only First come, first admitted. Pay at the door.
$25 panel discussion and one-on-one meeting Space is very limited for the one-on-one meetings, so reserve your spot today. To register, email toronto@ed2010.com for payment details. Please specify which editor you would like a one-on-one chat with and we will try to accommodate your request.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

ed2010 job interview workshop

There are still a few spots open for this Thursday's Ed2010 event.

Nail It: Job Interview Workshop

Join Ed2010 Toronto for a panel discussion on how to improve your job interview skills with special guests Bonnie Munday of Best Health, Megan Griffith-Greene of Chatelaine and Jenny Pruegger of Transcontinental Media. Then test out their interview advice in a one-on-one conversation with one of these top magazine professionals.

Space is limited so reserve your spot today. To register, email toronto@ed2010.com for payment details. Please specify which editor you would like a one-on-one chat with and we will try to accommodate your request.

Thursday, November 26
Northern District Library 
COST: $25

Sunday, November 15, 2009

blog: interns anonymous

Here's a blog for all you past and current interns (that's pretty much everyone in magazines, right?). U.K.-based Interns Anonymous shares the stories of interns from all sorts of industries, including journalism and publishing. Horror stories, success stories, encouragement, debate — there's a little bit of everything. And although the blog is not magazine specific, you'll find a lot to identify with. Check it out.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

office spaces

Most offices are stuck in cubicleland, with uninspiring spaces that lack character and don't represent the kind of work that happens there. They're not very nice places to work. And although I question the practicality of some of the elements in these spaces featured on the Business Insider, I would much rather go to work in one of these offices than in a dull corporate space.

Gawker's steampunk-style offices

The offices of Blue State Digital

ht @lavrusik via @niemanlab

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

getting to know yourself

Every job you have is going to teach you a little bit more about yourself — about how you like to work and what you want out of a job. You discover more about your preferences, like how you can best keep yourself organized, the types of coworkers you dislike and your strategies for dealing with them, and whether you prefer communicating by email, instant message or by phone with the person in the next cubicle (personally, I don't understand the urge to pick up the phone and call someone sitting six feet from you).

Knowing these things about yourself will likely help you navigate the work environment, help you figure out how to either adapt to systems or introduce "your way" of doing things to make improvements for everyone.

Side note: I wonder, how much do your first "real" job experiences affect those preferences? Is one inclined to think the "right" way to do something is the first way s/he learned how?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

what kind of networker are you?

There's an excellent post on Design*Sponge today about networking (it's aimed at designers, but the informations is quite general). In it, guest poster Sara Rosso identifies four types of networkers:
The Trendsetter: is curious and very up-to-date, and spends a great amount of time consuming and filtering information. They will be the first ones to tell you about a new idea or resource or tell you if someone else is already doing it.
The Guru: is an expert in a particular subject or subjects with in-depth knowledge at their fingertips and can serve as a source or give an expert opinion when needed. 
The Node: is well-connected with other people and groups. Maybe this person doesn’t have any direct answers for you, but they probably know the right person who does, and is willing to pass along your need/request to help you get an answer.
The Giver: is generous with their time, information and opinions and can serve as a person to give you excellent feedback across a variety of subjects. They are interested in helping your cause, teaching you something, or giving feedback on something you’re working on, and they are generous contacts to have.
Some people are going to be all four, or a combination of a few, or just one type of networker. What type are you? Knowing this may help you focus on and develop those skills, and make you more comfortable in networking situations.

And of course, knowing what type the people are in your network will help you figure out who to call when you're looking for specific information.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

no mag experience? no problem

Intern. Editorial assistant. Assistant editor. Associate editor. Etc. It's a clear path, but not one you necessarily have to take. As the examples in this Ed2010 article show, if you have experience in another field and want to get into magazines, you can. The trick is to communicate how your skills are transferable and that you "get" magazines. And perhaps your non-magazine experience is a bonus that will make you stand out among all the other applicants.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

using business cards right

You definitely need a business card. And you should definitely carry some with you wherever you go. But you should most definitely not hand them out indiscriminately.

In an interview with WalletPop, Chris Brogan points out that handing out your business card before you've engaged with someone — i.e. have had a conversation with him/her — is pointless. How is that person going to know whether they want to do business with you? What reason do they have to contact you? "Don't collect them just to collect them," Brogan says. "There's no value in collecting business cards."

From @chrisbrogan

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

random useful information & bright ideas

A roundup of some of the things I've been reading in the last few days.

Top five resources for folks making the transition from print to online, from Phillip Smith (via @kattancock)

What would your copy wear? Tips on giving your cover letter the proper tone. (Hint: consider who your audience is.) From The Urban Muse.

• Wise words: "The only way to make a magazine better for the advertiser is to make it better for the reader." A sign on the wall at Western Horseman magazine. Through MrMagazine.com.

How to persuade people (including your boss). From Smashing Magazine.

• Sometimes setting boundaries is the best way to come up with good/fresh ideas. Seth Godin on traction and friction.

How to blog almost every day, from Chris Brogan.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

new paid internship

The Canadian Living Journalism Prize just got better. The two grand prizes now each include a paid 12-week internship, worth approximately $6,500. That's about $13 an hour. I'm not holding my breath, but let's hope this inspires other magazines to start paying their interns.

Related post: Canadian Living Journalism Prize launched

Thursday, October 01, 2009

ed2010 toronto happy hour, oct. 14

Time for another infamous Ed Happy Hour:

Join us for a night of mixin' and mingling, and get to know others in the magazine biz. From student to intern to senior to EIC, everyone is welcome — we're a friendly group! Bring your business cards, your magazines, your questions and your beefs. And $5 to enter our Chat-with-an-Editor Raffle: you could win dinner with Chatelaine Senior Editor Rebecca Caldwell (visit Ed2010.com for details). And bring all your editor friends!!  

The usual time and place:
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
6:00pm - 9:00pm
The Duke of York, 2nd floor conservatory (go upstairs to the back).
39 Prince Arthur Ave. (near the Bedford exit of St. George subway station) 

RSVP to the event on the Ed Toronto Facebook page. 

Oh, and if you don't know: Ed2010 ("ed twenty-ten") is a purely volunteer networking group and website for aspiring editors who are looking to reach their dream magazine jobs. I am the Canadian Director. And if you would like to join our email list, please send us a note: toronto [at] ed2010 [dot] com.

dealing with the boycott

If you haven't heard yet, the Canadian Writers Group and the Professional Writers Association of Canada are urging all freelancers to boycott Transcontinental over the company's refusal to make amendments to its master contract.

My heart goes out to all the editors at the Transcon publications who will have to hunt harder for contributors, or have to take on extra work to meet their deadlines. It's a horrible position to be in. Editors are the writers' connection to a magazine, and often the writers' biggest advocates, and unfortunately they are the ones who will hurt most from this action.

Transcon editors, how do you plan to cope? Do you think it will affect you much? Have you had any writers speak to you about the boycott yet? Have there been discussions in the office to develop a strategy? Will you be taking on more work yourself?

Non-Transcon editors, chime in too: how would you cope?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

create your own job

There's a lot of chatter these days about the the death of the current publishing model. Recent grads are looking for jobs in an industry landscape that's very different from when they entered school four or so years ago, and veterans are clamouring to keep on top of the sea change.

Some of the more entrepreneurial types are saying screw pounding the pavement, I'm making up my own job and launching my own site. (Ok, most of them aren't giving up their day jobs, but they're not relying on climbing the career ladder to get to the top, either.)

Mashable talked to five ink-on-paper pros who have gone digital and compiled their tips for creating a startup journalism site. They cover startup costs, advertising and sponsorship, tech and design, and audience development. So, if you're eager for the next entry on your resumé to be publisher/editor/writer/designer/ad manager/tech support, you might find some useful tidbits in How To Launch Your Own Indie Journalism Site.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

keep the welcomes coming

Starting at a new company can feel a little strange, particularly because all the little daily things you never thought twice about have become a minefield of conundrums. Where is the extra photocopy paper kept? Who takes care of replacing burnt out light bulbs? Is it ok to put personal mail in the out box if you put a stamp on it?

And it's surprising how long after your first day questions like these come up. For example, start a job in the fall and you'd be well ensconced in the company by the time summer hours roll around. No one mentions the office closes early on Fridays and you could find yourself with an unexpected free afternoon the first weekend. Nice, but it would have been nice to know too.

So if someone new joins your team, consider that you may need to show him the ropes long after he's become part of the family.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

canadian living journalism prize launched

If you're a full-time Canadian journalism student looking for an internship and a chance to build your portfolio, check out the new Canadian Living Journalism Prize. Apply and you might get your story published in Canadian Living, secure an internship at said magazine and even receive a little hard cash.

There are two grand prizes of $1,500 and a 12-week editorial internship each, two second prizes of $500 and two third prizes of $200. All winners will have their stories published in Canadian Living or on CanadianLiving.com.

Go to CanadianLiving.com/journalismprize for application details. Deadline: Nov. 6, 2009.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

improve your work by thinking like a designer

On his blog Presentation Zen, Garr Reynolds shares some advice from his experience as a designer that he feels is useful to people in all professions. Here's my editor's take on some of his tips:

"Embrace constraints." For editors, this could mean sticking to issue themes, for example. When your options are unlimited, sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. Limitations force you to focus and come up with fresh solutions.

"Practice restraint." You can't fit every idea into one article. Choose the best and perfect it. If the story is an evergreen topic, save your other ideas for next time.

"Adopt the beginner's mind." Take a step back and look at your magazine and your workflow with fresh eyes every once in awhile. Maybe that column isn't working as well as you think it is. Maybe there's a more efficient way to do things. And if you happen to have a new staff member, take advantage of it and get his/her opinion.

"Check your ego at the door. This is not about you, it's about them (your audience, customer, patient, student, etc.)." For us, it's all about our readers. Never forget this. You may love a story idea, but does it make sense for your readers?

"Focus on the experience of the design." Reynolds points out that much of design has an emotional component; how people respond to and interact with design is immensely important. Likewise, readers have an emotional attachment to "their" magazines. Nurture it. Use it to your advantage.

"Become a master storyteller." Well, that's an obvious one. But Reynolds actually concisely outlines a structure that works for many stories: "Start with the general, zoom in to the detail, pull out again to remind us of the theme or key concept, then zoom back in to illuminate more of the detail."

"Obsess about ideas, not tools." Blogs, podcasts, Twitter feeds — use them to get your content and brand out there, but remember that a cool tool is useless if it's carrying useless information.

"Learn all the 'rules' and know when and why to break them." Now is a good time to start breaking the rules. Magazines are changing, and they're changing fast. Instead of fretting about the impending doomsday of the industry, blue sky it. Are magazines still just ink on paper? Presume that they're not and start thinking about all the possibilities. This is exciting. Be excited!

Here is Reynolds' complete slideshow on how to think like a designer (click on "Full" to be able to read the notes under each slide):

Found through The Artful Manager.

Friday, July 24, 2009

resumés at information meetings

Information meetings are not job interviews, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't bring your resumé to them. A good tip from Ask the Recruiter:
Have a resumé and work samples in your bag in case you happen to make a good impression and someone asks for them. If no one asks for them, send them in with the thank-you note you are going to write after your visit.

finding opportunities outside of Toronto

In my last post, I promised to address the question of whether not being in Toronto limits your career opportunities.

First, don't let your home base discourage you. Yes, there are more English-language magazines published out of Toronto than any other place in Canada, but there are also more people competing for the jobs at those magazines.

Research what opportunities are available in your home town by checking job boards and the member lists of publishing associations like Magazines Canada, the Canadian Business Press, the Atlantic Magazines Association and the British Columbia Association of Magazine Publishers.

Make connections with other editors through local chapters of industry associations like the Professional Writers Association of Canada.

And don't be shy about calling up other editors and offering to take them out to lunch, just to meet them and chat about the industry. I occasionally get together for brunch with magazine peeps in my hood, outside of any organized association, and it's great to just talk about anything magazine related that's on our minds. Making and maintaining friendships in the industry is important because people who aren't in it can't fully understand it, and you need those people who get it to offer advice throughout your career.

Monday, July 20, 2009

reader's question: how do I make a mid-life career transition into magazines?

Q. What advice would you give to an experienced corporate/industry writer who wants to jump the fence into a magazine career?

My challenges are:
(1) I'm not a student, nor am I a "young whippersnapper," so the internship route may not be possible for me (although I would certainly jump at the opportunity).
(2) I don't live in Toronto, but in Ottawa, so opportunities are further limited.

A. I have no experience in it, but I can't imagine changing your career track is at all easy.

If you're looking to become a freelance magazine writer, the transition shouldn't be too difficult. You might be able to find work writing for trade publications, particularly those that cover the industries you've previously worked for. Like any writer trying to break in, you'll have to slowly build your portfolio with clippings from smaller local and regional magazines and work your way up to larger titles. You'll definitely need to do this to make your way into larger consumer titles. (Some veteran freelancers might advise you to keep your corporate gigs to supplement any income made from magazines.)

If you're looking to land an on-staff gig as an editor, your path will be a little longer and harder. First, don't discount internships. I once worked with an intern who was returning to the workforce after staying home to raise her kids for 12 years. Her career previous to having children wasn't in magazines, and she was willing to start at the bottom, as you are. Call up managing editors at places you'd like to intern and talk to them about whether they'd be willing to take you on. Check out my earlier post on How Old is Too Old to Intern? for more on this.

There's a little bit of a chance that you may be able to land a position without doing an internship. The key will be to prove that you "get it" and that you're capable of doing the job. You'll have to work harder than applicants with magazine experience to convey this in your cover letter and clippings. Figure out what your transferable skills are, why they make you valuable, and how they would benefit the magazine.

To help you from this angle, you may want to consider the information meeting. Talking to an editor in a senior position will help you determine if you do in fact get it and help pinpoint where your magazine skills are strong or lacking.

As for your question about opportunities given your location, I'm going to tackle this in another post. Watch for it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

the secret to success

Two videos from Richard St. John on success. The takeaway: even if you reach your dream job, you can't stop striving to be the best.

8 Secrets of Success:

Success is a Continuous Journey:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

reader's question: what entry-level jobs can I apply to?

Q. I'm a recent graduate just completing an internship. In September I will begin to search for a job. Are there any other titles besides editorial assistant that I should apply for?

A. Editorial assistant will be the most common job title for your level of experience, but look at other postings to see what they're looking for. Position titles aren't always consistent across the industry, so it's worth skimming postings that you're unsure of. Watch for words like entry level, junior or new graduate in the job descriptions. If your experience matches the requirements, feel free to apply.

For general descriptions of magazine job titles, check out Masthead.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

follow up

I welcome requests for advice from all the readers of this blog, and occasionally people take me up on the offer. I'm surprised though at how few people follow up on their queries. I don't always get back to everyone, and sometimes those emails slip to the bottom of my inbox and off my radar. When someone emails me a second time to ask if I received the first email, 99.9 percent of the time I'll reply.

I suspect most editors and hiring managers are like me, which is why, unless you've been explicitly told not to follow up, it's always a good idea to check in. Use your judgement to gauge how many times and how frequently you can contact someone, but my general rule is a week after the previous email or phone call, up to two or three times. More than that and you have to be very tactful in order not to become a pest.

Friday, June 26, 2009

summer jobs for grads

No. Not paying ones. Sorry.

If you just completed j-school (congrats!), keep up your education throughout the summer, while you're trying to land your first real job. 10,000 Words offers up a 30-point to-do list to improve your journalism skills, including suggestions like Create an online portfolio; Crop, resize, and colour correct 50 photos; Subscribe to at least 25 non-journalism blogs; and Interview 10 people using a video camera. Many worthwhile goals there, which will expand your technical skills and knowledge base, increase your profile and network, and develop your reporting techniques.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

will the future editorial department include web?

Last night I had dinner with two web folks and we got to talking about the divide between web and editorial departments. One day I'd like my job to include editing stories not just for print, but also for online — I'd like to work in both mediums. I have a lot to learn about web editing, but in my mind, both platforms serve the brand, so why the separation? Have the food editor edit the recipes in the book, as well as pull together cooking demonstrations for the web. Get the editor who handles book reviews to write them across the board. I've spoken to other young editors who feel the same way, and I wonder if we're heading in this direction, if the departments will merge over the next few years — if an editor will be an editor will be an editor.

What do you think? Should it all be part and parcel of the same job? Are you interested in doing both?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

you didn't get the job because...

You smelled bad. ... You wore too much makeup. ... The CEO’s daughter got the job. ... You acted too desperate. Your pants were too baggy. ... They have a diversity initiative and you’re a white male. ... You didn’t make good eye contact.

And there are oh so many other possible reasons. A post on Radiant Veracity lists 75, and also points out that you can't obsess over everything that you might do or may have done wrong in an interview. Be prepared and do the best you can. After that, the ball is in their court.

Through Lindsay Olson.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

event recap: what you need to know about being a web editor

Thanks to everyone who turned out at the Ed2010 Toronto web editor's panel discussion last night — we had a great turnout. (From right to left) Bryan Borzykowski from CanadianBusiness.com, Jen O'Brien from Chatelaine.com, Jennifer Villamere of CanadianLiving.com, and Sharon Donaldson from CottageLife.com and Explore-mag.com shared how they got into online editing and what's involved in the job. (That's Ed2010 Toronto event manager Ann Brown on the left.)

Here are a few points from our panellists that stood out for me:

• Being a web editor is not the same thing as being a print editor. The type of writing and style of articles are different, and your duties as an editor will be different. Only a fraction of your time will be spent assigning stories and working with writers.

• If you're looking for a job as a web editor, you'd better be into the web. Have Facebook and Twitter accounts, post videos that you've shot and edited to YouTube, write a blog, purchase your own domain and build your own website. If you don't do all that — if you're not spending time online — the person doing the hiring is going to wonder why the hell you want to be a web editor.

• Don't look as web editing as a way into the print side. They are different departments and require different skills.

If you attended, post your comments on what you thought were the most interesting points made by our panellists. And let us know what you thought of the event.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

event: tonight! Ed2010 Toronto's web editors panel

Just a reminder that Ed2010 Toronto is hosting its web editors panel tonight.

Get online: discover the wonderful world of web editing
Ever wondered what it takes to be a web editor? Even in a slow economy there are job opportunities in online publishing. Find out how you can break into the wonderful world of web editing. Join Ed2010 Toronto and our all-star line-up of senior web staffers from some of Canada's top magazine websites including Jen O'Brien from Chatelaine.com, Bryan Borzykowski from CanadianBusiness.com, Jennifer Villamere of Canadian Living, and Sharon Donaldson from CottageLife.com and Explore-mag.com. Hear how they got into the biz and get advice on how to succeed in the online world.

When: Wednesday June 17 from 6:30pm-7:30pm
Where: Northern District Library, 40 Orchard View Blvd (Yonge and Eglinton)
$5 admission fee (Seating is limited, availability is given on a first come, first serve basis)

If you'd like to become a member of Ed2010, a networking group for young magazine editors, join our facebook group or email us at toronto[at] ed2010[dot] com.

deliver on expectations

Last weekend I headed down to Harbourfront Centre to catch the free Cirque du Soleil performance as part of Luminato. The crowd was large and expectations high. And then a few acrobats splashed around in the pond.

The performance that Cirque delivered was so low key, the audience didn't know when it was over. We all sat there waiting for the next act for about half an hour before someone thought to make an announcement. "Hope you enjoyed the show. See you tomorrow."

Everyone expected more. Not only does Cirque have a well-deserved reputation for delivering fabulous shows, but the setup for this show in particular led us (well, at least me) to believe there was more to come. The "stage" props included, among other things, a trampoline and a boat that were never used. (Though word has it they made cameos in the Sunday show; I say Friday's performance.)

This failure to deliver is one of my greatest pet peeves as a magazine reader: If you're selling me something on the cover, you'd better make sure I find it inside in sufficient quantity/quality to meet the expectations that you set up.

Likewise, be smart about how you sell yourself. You can stretch the truth about how good you are with deadlines, but miss that first one and your editor/boss will be more disappointed in you than had you said nothing about your ability to meet deadlines at all.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

facebook can get you fired

Well, if it has to be said again...

Some people still haven't gotten the message that you need to be careful of what you say on Facebook, Twitter and any other social networking site. An Associated Press reporter is the latest victim of officious corporations.

But beyond any nasty comments you might make about your company, its clients or your magazine's readers, you also have to be careful of how you present yourself. Many editors now find that part of their job description is to manage their magazine's Facebook page, or to tweet about all things related to their publication's content. So consider this: Is your profile pic a tad too sexy? Have you set up a professional and a personal account? When you're making announcements to the world, remember who might be listening.

panellist added to ed2010 event

Jennifer Villamere of Canadian Living will join next week's panel discussion of online editors presented by Ed2010. Also on the panel: Jen O'Brien from Chatelaine.com, Bryan Borzykowski from CanadianBusiness.com and Sharon Donaldson from CottageLife.com and Explore-mag.com. Come hear how they got into the biz and get advice on how to succeed in the online world.

When: Wednesday June 17 from 6:30pm-7:30pm
Where: Northern District Library, Toronto
40 Orchard View Blvd (Yonge and Eglinton)
$5 admission fee
(Seating is limited, availability is given on a first come, first serve basis)

Monday, June 08, 2009

what I learned at MagNet: tips on service journalism from Anthony Licata

A few notes on service journalism from the session "Service Centre: How to Tune Up your Magazine"[update: session info no longer available on MagNet site] with Anthony Licata, editor-in-chief of Field & Stream.

Clear is better than clever. Don't make your readers do too much work; they'll just turn the page.

Make it fresh. Evergreen stories can be deadly; if you've seen it before, so have your readers.

Be ambitious. "Wouldn't it be cool if..." ideas are always worth pursuing. Take them as far as you can go before reigning them in.

Don't cut the life out of short writing. It's hard to write short, but when you're trying to fit, cutting the fun phrases and other bits of personality out can make a piece read like an instruction manual.

Teach with a smile. Service pieces can pack in a lot of information and be exhausting. Lighten the mood and keep it fun so you don't tire out your readers.

Your cover should make a compelling promise. Deliver on it with a service package that's well worth the cover price. Even if they read nothing else in that issue, readers should feel they got their money's worth.

It's not all about service. Pacing is important; you can't use the same approach for all stories. Neither should all stories be service pieces; sometimes you just need to tell a good story. Give breathing room to all those itsy bitsy pieces.

Friday, June 05, 2009

using the web right

Next week I'll share with you a few things I learned at MagNet, but for now I'd like to draw your attention to an article shown by John Clinton at Thursday's session "The Future of Publishing: The Big Players, the Big Picture."

As a supplement to Fortune's April 13 cover story, the magazine has produced a rich media version of the article. Powered by Flyp, the online version of "How to get a Job" includes video interviews, audio clips and an interactive map. It's a smart way to layer in all the information that we often try to fit into a heavily packaged service piece in print, without some of the space constraints. Love it, love it, love it.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Si Newhouse & Condé Nast

[Si Newhouse] ran [Condé Nast] as if it were a movie studio of the thirties and forties, the era in which Newhouse, a shy child, fell in love with the glamour of Hollywood. “One editor is like Hal Wallis,” Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, tells me, “another like Busby Berkeley, and there’s a commissary,” the Frank Gehry–designed cafeteria at the Condé Nast Building at 4 Times Square. For Newhouse, it was a wonderful setup. “He created [in Condé Nast] a reality in which he is no longer the bumbling, asocial kid he grew up as,” says one person close to him. In this analogy, Newhouse is in the role of Louis B. Mayer, the notoriously tyrannical MGM head who loved his stars but made them quake. “Si loves being surrounded by divas and egomaniacs,” says one former editor. When one editor called another a “fucking bitch,” Newhouse didn’t mind. “Yes, but she’s our bitch,” he said. He delights in the Darwinian drama that takes place below him. “He believes the best will rise and will not be shivved in the back,” says the former editor.

– From a lengthy article by Steve Fishman published in New York magazine. The piece, about Si Newhouse and his kingdom at Condé Nast, gives a good glimpse into the company and its culture.

Friday, May 29, 2009

pregnant opportunities

There must be something in the water. I know upwards of 20 friends and relatives who have either had a baby in the past year or who are currently pregnant. Most of those people have or will be leaving a temporary vacancy in the job market. Those are spots that need to be filled.

As you know, a large portion of editing jobs are never advertised. You hear so-and-so is leaving and you ask around to find out who to send your resumé to. Which is why you should keep your ears open not just for people leaving for another magazine, but for people who are expecting children. There will be a stretch of time when someone else needs to fill that person's shoes, and why shouldn't it be you?

Yes, it may be only temporary, but covering parental leave is a good opportunity. You might be lucky to get a permanent job out of it (the person decides not to come back or you're loved so much, you're asked to stay on) – which is rare – but at the very least, you've made some good connections and gathered some worthwhile experience. You might get some freelance work out of it. And because you know when your time will be up, you can plan your job hunt and openly look for a new position while still working.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

trading resumé critiques

I've found in the past that getting professional advice on your resumé can be a fruitless effort. I've never tried paid services, but if they're anything like university career centres, they likely offer suggestions that are way off base. The advisers seem to stick to some HR version of what a resumé should be, without taking into consideration what field you're working in, and if there are any conventions related to it. I have my doubts that a generic service would know what to do with your mix of freelance and on-staff work, for example.

That's why I believe your best advice is going to come from peers and mentors who work in magazines. Joe Grimm, on Ask the Recruiter, recommends the resumé swap: sit down with another editor over pizza and look at each other's CVs. Talk about them.

I think this is a much better approach than even just emailing your friend your resumé. In person, you can have a conversation about it. You can tease out what will work the best, what your key assets are. And, though it won't be possible for everyone to do, if you can hook up with someone who looks at resumés on a regular basis, even better.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

event: Ed2010 Toronto presents "Get online: discover the wonderful world of web editing"

Some shameless self promotion for Ed2010 Toronto, the group I volunteer for. We're hosting our next speaker series event June 17th, and I hope a lot of you can make it. Here are the details:

Get online: discover the wonderful world of web editing
Ever wondered what it takes to be a web editor? Even in a slow economy there are job opportunities in online publishing. Find out how you can break into the wonderful world of web editing. Join Ed2010 Toronto and our all-star line-up of senior web staffers from some of Canada's top magazine websites including Jen O'Brien from Chatelaine.com, Bryan Borzykowski from CanadianBusiness.com and Sharon Donaldson from CottageLife.com. Hear how they got into the biz and get advice on how to succeed in the online world.

When: Wednesday June 17 from 6:30pm-7:30pm
Where: Northern District Library, 40 Orchard View Blvd (Yonge and Eglinton)
$5 admission fee

If you'd like to become a member of Ed2010, a networking group for young magazine editors, join our facebook group or email us at toronto[at] ed2010[dot] com.

manage your career trajectory

At several points in your career, you'll have to figure out what path you want to take. You may have to decide whether to accept a job offer, or even whether you should apply for a job.

Recently I was talking with a young editor who was wise enough to recognize that a certain opportunity just wasn't right for him. Having just completed school, it would be the first experience on his resumé, and would likely colour all future opportunities, possibly pigeon-holing him as a certain type of editor. And it wasn't the type of editing he wants to do. (Sorry I'm being vague; I'm trying to avoid any identifying details.)

Fortunately this recent grad has the luxury of waiting it out to look for work that's better suited to him and his talents, and I recommend that you use the same discretion, too, when possible. Will your next job give you additional skills above and beyond what you already have (i.e. will you develop and grow as an editor)? Will it provide you with the experience you need to then take the next step? Is it a good building block? Or will it take you away from your eventual goals? For example, if you dream of being a beauty editor, a position at a women's mag (even if you're not handling beauty stories) will get you closer to your goal than a gig at a literary journal. Look for work in the arena you wish to be in and think twice about opportunities that may lead you astray. Being an editorial assistant at the latter is not the same as being an editorial assistant at the former.

Of course, this is all moot if you're just trying to find something to pay the bills. But when you can, consider where your next job might take you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2 unrelated interviews: Wintour and Husni

"I like people who represent the best of what they do and if that turns you into a perfectionist than maybe I am." – Anna Wintour in an interview with 60 Minutes

"When the economy is bad, when everybody is shrinking, when the big media companies are at a standstill, that’s the best time to start a new magazine because it’s going to take one to two years for that magazine to evolve and establish itself. Then you hope in two years, the economy will pick up and you’re ready for that marketplace." – Samir Husni in an interview with Industry Intelligence Inc.

Friday, May 08, 2009

from intern to staff

Having your internship turn into a job is a rarity. But many people working in magazines are former interns of where they now work, so it does happen. Whether you're offered a job at the end of your internship depends on two things: timing and your performance.

You don't have much control over the first. If your internship happens to coincide with a position opening up or a department expanding, you might be lucky enough to be considered for the job. But whether you are, is up to you.

It's your performance that determines if you're kept on after you're internship is done. Even if you're lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, the only way you'll be offered a position is if the company is happy with your performance as an intern. So treat every internship as a hands-on job interview. You just never know what might happen.

Monday, May 04, 2009

i love the exclamation mark!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Did you catch the sarcasm? For you grammar geeks, an interesting piece on the overused exclamation mark. Blame its proliferation on email.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

reader's question: what's a good weakness?

In response to Friday's post, one commentator asked what a good response would be to the job interview question What are your weaknesses? This is probably every one's least favourite question, but a common one, so be prepared.

One strategy is to turn a negative into a positive. Admit to a weakness – a minor one – then quickly turn the conversation to how you have overcome that weakness, or how you manage it.

For example, I get distracted very, very easily. A person walks by, an email pops up, or I hear someone talking about a movie I just saw and have to add my two cents. I manage these distractions, in part, by wearing headphones and listening to music to block out sounds, and by turning off all auto notifications on my email – no dings or bouncing icons. This demonstrates to the interviewer that I'm capable of self-assessment and self-improvement.

And that's the main point of the question. The interviewer wants to know if you can recognize where you need improvement and if you can figure out how to make yourself better.

And keep in mind, you don't want to admit to anything that might be a deal breaker, like you hate writing or don't always work well with others. But you also don't want to say anything completely irrelevant either. A weakness for chocolate or an inability to manage your chequebook are just weird answers.

Monday, April 27, 2009

job search frustration

If you're in a job you hate or have been out of work for a while and you're desperate to find a new gig, the worst thing you can do is let that desperation show to potential employers. In a pair of posts (with a third promised), recruiter Lindsay Olson talks about how frustrating job hunting can be.

She shares an absolutely horrible job inquiry sent her way, which starts out
"I'm hoping you won't say that you 'don't have anything right now', or you 'don't have anything at my level'. That would be a horrible way to start the week."

The letter is quite cringe-worthy, and worth the read. Of course, it speaks to the frustration a lot of people are feeling right now, so Lindsay also offers up a few tips to keep in mind on why a company will and will not hire you. A company will not hire you because you have bills to pay and need the job; they will hire you if you're the right person for the job. Make sure they're hearing about the latter and not the former. No one responds well to desperation.

Friday, April 24, 2009

interview no-nos

There are certain things we just shouldn't say. Particularly on job interviews. If asked what you're weaknesses are, don't say you have none or you that you don't know. Or even worse, don't say you're a perfectionist (no one buys it, and it's a transparently underhanded way to say that you don't have any faults). Check out the Ed2010 site for more tips on what not to say during an interview.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

the thrill of it

There are many reasons why I love being an editor, and I was reminded last night about one of them: the thrills.

There's the thrill of getting your first internship. Of seeing your name on the masthead for the first time. Your first business card that says editor. Your first byline. Landing the job at the magazine you've always wanted to work at. Meeting an editor you've long admired (our celebrities, if you will). The really good swag (admit it). And, of course, getting nominated for a National Magazine Award.

This is my first time being nominated, and it's a very nice little thrill.

Congrats to all the NMA nominees.

Monday, April 20, 2009

ed on the web

Two new things to report about Ed2010.

If you're an Ed member and have missed the daily newsletter, Ed News is back. Starting today you'll find Ed's daily roundup of magazine industry news (mostly US-based) through the Ed2010News Twitter feed.

Ed2010 Toronto now has it's own homepage on the Ed website. There you'll find details on the chapter, as well as news on upcoming and past events.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

industry leaders on innovation, print and the web

Samir Husni – that's Mr. Magazine to you – has published a series of brief videos in which industry leaders talk about magazines:

Part 1: Eleanor Griffin, editor-in-chief, Southern Living, on the soul of a magazine; Howard Greenberg, design director, Southern Living, on the differences in innovation between print and web.

Part 2: Jim Sexton, senior vice president and editorial director, Southern Progress Corporation Digital Network, on how print and web complement each other.

Part 3: Lindsay Bierman, editor-in-chief, Coastal Living, on innovation in reinvention.

Part 4: Vicki Wellington, publisher, Food Network magazine, on extending the brand.

Part 5: Trisha McMahon, editor-in-chief and senior vice president for communications and public relations, Morris Visitor Publications’ New York division, on the value of print.

career intern

I don't know if I've said this before, but there is such thing as doing too many internships. After one, you should be able to start applying for entry-level positions. You can do as many as three, but more than that and potential employers may start to ask why you haven't landed a job yet. Joe Grimm on Ask the Recruiter points out that even more important is how long you intern after becoming employable (e.g. graduating from school). If you're getting nowhere with the job hunt, put your efforts into freelance gigs and networking instead of doing another stint as an intern, even if you have to get a part-time job outside the field to support yourself. You'll build contacts and your portfolio, which is more valuable.

Friday, April 03, 2009

meeting notes

Maybe all those meetings you have aren't necessary. And if they are, maybe they needn't be as long. There are three things that guarantee zone-outs: rehashing what everyone already knows, talking about things that are relevant to only two or three people in the group, and going off topic.

A selection of tips from Seth Godin on how to make your meetings more effective:
• Understand that all problems are not the same. So why are your meetings? Does every issue deserve an hour? Why is there a default length?

• Remove all the chairs from the conference room. I'm serious. [This might not work for story meetings, but can you imagine how much more quickly a weekly update meeting would go?]

• Bring an egg timer to the meeting. When it goes off, you're done. Not your fault, it's the timer's.

• The organizer of the meeting is required to send a short email summary, with action items, to every attendee within ten minutes of the end of the meeting.

I'd add to the list Start All Meetings On Time.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Last week, 3M workers in France held the company's chief executive hostage for two days in anger over layoffs. They didn't gain much – just a promise from 3M to return to the negotiating table to discuss redundancy deals – but I can imagine they certainly got some satisfaction from taking revenge on the big boss.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

untapped resources

Do you ever get the sense that you could do so much more, if only your employer would allow you to? You're not the only one. As reported by the Guardian, 40% of surveyed employees in the UK (I'm sure the Canadian figures are comparable) feel that they have more skills than their jobs required.

If you're feeling underutilized, speak out and volunteer for additional projects or talk to your manager about increasing/changing some of your duties. If you're a manager, take the time to ask your employees (perhaps during a review) whether there's anything else they'd like to do, or if they have any interests beyond their daily routines. If a person doesn't feel challenged, he or she may end up looking for greener pastures. It's kind of like that really, really smart kid in school who was bored so skipped class so much and eventually dropped out.

Friday, March 20, 2009

easy pdf clippings

Here's a neat trick I learned last week from Ed2010 member Syd:

All you need to generate PDF files of your article clippings is a library card. On the Toronto Public Library website, do an author search in the magazine database for your name. All your articles pop up and you can simply email yourself the PDF. No tedious scanning.

magnet, I thought we were about magazines

Every year I look forward to conference season. But I have to say, I'm a little disappointed in MagNet's 2009 lineup. It's a little flush on offerings for writers compared to other magazine departments; 28 seminars for writers versus 10 for editors – nearly a third as many. (This is how the other departments stack up: 23 seminars for management, 12 for digital, 9 for ad sales, 9 for circulation, 6 for small magazines, 5 for design and 4 for production.)

And some of those writing seminars: selling your book, novel writing, romance and erotica novels, book publishing trends, screenwriting. I'm a little confused because I thought MagNet was a magazine publishing conference. In fact, from the website: "MagNet is Canada’s premiere public policy, professional development and networking conference for magazine professionals" [my itals]. Can someone enlighten me as to why the diversified curriculum? I'm not being snide – I really want to know.

(First the salary report, now the conference lineup. There's just no pleasing me this week.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

what do editors make?

If you missed it, take a look at the compensation study released last week by Magazines Canada and the cultural Human resources Council. It's nice to be armed with info like this when you're negotiating a salary, but I sure wish they had broken it up by circulation or company size. Is it just me or do the median salaries seem neither to reflect standard incomes at the big publishers, nor at the smaller companies?

Other salary resources:
• Masthead Salary Survey, 2006
• Ed2010 Salary Reports (US)
• Folio Editorial Salary Survey, 2008 (US)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

ed happy hour was hoppin'

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Toronto Ed2010 Happy Hour last night! We had our largest turnout, with more than 40 people showing up (according to the waiter's guess – I lost count). We might just have to book a larger space next time. Lots of talk about the economy, internships and general magazine stuff. I was so busy chatting away, I nearly forgot to take pictures; all I got were fuzzy crowd shots. Congratulations to Katie Lamb, who won our Chat-with-an-Editor raffle. She'll be having dinner with Liza Cooperman, executive editor of Hello! Canada. And congrats to our two door-prize winners who each won a one-year subscription to The Walrus.

Hope to see you at the next one!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

ed2010 toronto happy hour tonight

Don't forget! I expect it's going to be a big one – lots of people signing up for the email list and joining the Facebook group. (Of course, now that I've said that, four people will show up. You'd better come out so I don't have to eat my words!)

The Happy Hour will be from 6-9 pm at the The Duke of York (39 Prince Arthur Ave., near the Bedford exit of St. George subway station), in the 2nd floor conservatory (go upstairs to the back).

Come out and mix and mingle with other young magazine editors. We're having another Chat-with-an-Editor Raffle, with a chance to win dinner with Liza Cooperman, executive editor of Hello! Canada. Tickets are $5 at the event. Plus, we've got door prizes: Everyone in attendance has a chance to win one of two free one-year subscriptions to Walrus Magazine.

For details, go to Ed Toronto's Facebook page.

interview taxonomy

Some interviews go swimmingly. Others, well, not so much. Sometimes you walk out of one and think, What the hell was that? And it's not always necessarily by fault of your own. MojoGrad has provided a very thorough illustration of common "hideous" interviews. Below is the list, with comments on my own experiences with each kind, but I also recommend visiting MojoGrad for some funny tales and decent advice (it's a longish but good read).

The Interview Where I Was Completely Out Of My League. I've done this more than once. At the end of university, I applied to be EIC of a small, local arts publication. My only experience was running the school's student magazine, but I thought I could totally do the job. It wasn't until I was facing the interview committee that I started to wonder why the hell they had even called me in the first place.

The Interview I Was Late For. My first publishing gig. My sister was supposed to pick me up and drive me, and she was late. (Can you tell it's still a sore spot?) I had to call the interviewer and say I wasn't going to make it on time. I got the job, however.

The Interview In Which I Tried Desperately Not To Laugh At The People Who May Employ Me. Luckily, haven't had this experience.

The Interview That Was Frankly So Much Trouble I Shouldn’t Have Bloody Bothered. One of those times I was desperate for a job. A temp agency sent me out to a place in the middle of nowhere Mississauga – you know, where public transit doesn't seem to exist. My mom drove me (slightly embarrassing) and we got a speeding ticket on the way. Then in the interview, the company was super-sketch. The owner's cars sat in the back of the warehouse under tarps, and "my office" was an empty, badly lit room with one desk set up in the corner and miscellaneous equipment piled in another. I never really got a sense f what the job actually was – I'm convinced it had something to do with the mafia. The guy offered me the job on the spot, and then called a few days later and the position magically didn't exist anymore. For the better.

The Interview Where The Questions Are So Clichéd You Wonder If They Actually Found Anything Out About You. Nearly every interview with an HR representative. (Sorry HR peeps.)

The Interview Where You Already Know The People Interviewing You. Done it. A little odd, but not so bad.

How about you? Any stories to share?

Thanks to Briony Smith.

Friday, March 06, 2009

make your cubicle more bearable

For those of us stuck in cubicleland, here's a suggestion from the Style North blog on how to improve those horrible fluorescent lights above our desks: Using a highlighter, colour the acrylic cover pink to create a rosy glow. If you're not one for altering company property, I think you could also achieve the same effect by tacking up a pink gel or tissue paper over the cover.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

what to do if you're laid off

Some practical advice on what to do if you find yourself being laid off, from Time:

Don't sign anything right away, ask a lot of questions and write everything the person firing you says.

Doing this could give you ammunition to negotiate a better severance package or file for wrongful dismissal. For the entire piece, go to Time. Found through Save the Assistants.

that's what I call memorable branding

A very cool business card (pretty obvious what company it's for), from Save the Assistants.

Monday, March 02, 2009

reader's question: does my foreign experience count for anything?

Q. I am a foreign citizen with an open work permit for Canada and am trying to find a job as a journalist here. I posses a journalism degree from a foreign school and have more than 12 years of job experience, with articles of mine being published in both English and my native language.

I have applied to many positions, but even though I consider my resume as comprehensive enough, I haven't been invited to any interviews nor had any other kind of response. As it is not usual for employers to give reason for declining a candidate, I don't know why I haven't been considered. But following debates about Canadian employment policies and immigration, I came quite often across the complaint that Canadian employers do not recognize foreign qualifications and experience (enough). This lead to my assumption that there are problems with my foreign degree/ experience and that I would have to obtain a Canadian degree in order to improve my chances to be considered for employment.

Do you think it is indeed my foreign degree and my foreign experience that let my applications fall through? Would pursuing a Canadian college degree in journalism significantly improve my chances or would I just waste a lot of time and money just to find myself in the same situation again 2 or 3 years down the road?

A. You're not the first person to ask me this. Unfortunately, you're partially correct: foreign credentials and experience don't hold up as well against Canadian experience.

It's not politically correct to say this, and most people won't admit to it, but employers, whether consciously or subconsciously, likely make the assumption that non-natives just don't get it, in a number of ways.

First of all, there's the language issue. In an industry built on mastery of the written word, can they count on someone for whom English is a second language to turn in polished copy? Will sentences, paragraphs, be stilted and need more editing than usual? If the person is applying to be an editor, will they be able to correct copy correctly? No mater how fluent you are, there's always at least a small doubt.

To counter this assumption, your resumé, cover letter and any correspondence must be impeccable. I'd recommend having a born-and-raised Canadian read over your application. In addition to the standard proofreading, he should look for uncommon turns of phrases – sentences that although correct, are not the usual way something would be said. Whether it's the choice of one word over another, or the structure of a sentence, the smallest thing can eliminate you. (Hey, even a minor typo or misplaced comma can land a resumé in the No pile – a problem for every applicant, Canadian and non.)

An extension of the language issue is whether or not a foreigner understands and is able to navigate Canadian culture. Do you get the cultural references? Will you know where to go and who to call to get information or secure an interview? For example, if you're assigned to write a story about the current hearings to determine whether broadcasting over the internet should be subject to federal regulations, will you know what the CRTC is and its history? Will the editor have to hold your hand, explain things? Will the story take longer, or will you miss something? Fair or not, an employer might wonder.

Finally, there will be the question of whether your credentials are equivalent to Canadian credentials. Associate editor at a mag in another country? Did you do the same thing as an associate editor does here? That newspaper clipping: done for a reputable outfit, or some Mickey-Mouse operation? An employer might not know what weight to give your experience because he's just not familiar with where that experience comes from. And when he's going through hundreds of resumés, the extra work of trying to figure that out can be enough to send your application to the reject pile.

So this doesn't happen, make it easy for the employer. Think about including things like URLs to the websites of publications you've worked for in your resumé or cover letter, or circ numbers to indicate the size of the magazine. Include descriptors where you can, like "largest daily" or "published by such-and-such-country's second-largest publisher". You want to give the employer a good sense of the type of places you've worked for.

Now, I wouldn't recommend starting from scratch and going back to school to get a Canadian degree. Unlike some professions, it's not necessary to update your qualifications in order to practice journalism. However, a course or two of a continuing education publishing program could help familiarize you with the Canadian industry and some of it's major players. You'll also meet other people in the field (instructors and classmates) who may be able to advise you on other resources or aid you in your search.

You'll also want to work on getting some Canadian clippings to add to your portfolio. Pitch stories to any magazines and newspapers that interest you, and don't discount ethnic community publications. You have the distinct qualifications to write for such a magazine or newspaper. Think about how your unique experience could be a benefit for a company and highlight that in your application.

Like any job seeker, you'll have to clearly communicate how you can benefit the publication to which you're applying to. If you do that well, you should have no problem getting the interview.

*Question has been edited for length and identifying details.

Friday, February 27, 2009

if it can be done better, good isn't good enough

If you're interested at all in the indie craft community, you're probably well aware of a recent documentary called Handmade Nation. It's not a great film (bad camerawork, among other issues), but it's worth seeing. It features interviews with all sorts of crafters, people who do things like sewing, bookbinding and needlework.

What struck me was that there didn't seem to be much talk about the actual craftsmanship of the crafts. Some of the handmade goods highlighted in the film were downright hideous. Personal tastes aside, if I'm going to spend money on something handmade, I want to know that it's not going to fall apart, that it's well made and that there was some effort put into it, that the maker has pride in his/her work.

Where am I going with this? Whether you're a crafter or an editor, you should pay attention to the craftsmanship of the work you produce. It's not just the ideas you come up with that matter; it's the execution of those ideas that's going to determine how much mileage they get – and ultimately what type of reputation you'll build for yourself. For a crafter, that means making sure your stitches are straight and there isn't glue seeping out everywhere. For editors, it means, among many other things, having the fact-checker make one more call, just to be sure, and not settling for a photo because you're tired of searching the stock files for something better.

And that's what it comes down to: Don't settle. Put conscientious thought into the work you do, be willing to toss something that's not up to par, and take the time to do the job over, if that's what needs to be done. Don't take the easy route just because it's less effort or there's no time.

Work hard, be proud.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

time for recess

I had a really productive day yesterday. Well, at least up until about 3:00. That's when I crashed. Completely lost my concentration. It probably had a lot to do with my carb-heavy lunch, which I happened to eat at my desk, working.

Afternoons always go better for me if I take a break at lunch – get away from the office and go for a walk, or spend time perusing the nearby Chapters library. I'm looking forward to warmer weather when I can go sit in the park.

The benefits of taking a break is not new knowledge, but it's easily forgotten or ignored (we're all so busy making our deadlines). To renew your energy and improve your concentration and productivity, step away from the grind, even just for 20 minutes. A walk through the mall will get the blood flowing, but a hit of nature will do you one better.
The reason may be that the brain uses two forms of attention. “Directed” attention allows us to concentrate on work, reading and tests, while “involuntary” attention takes over when we’re distracted by things like running water, crying babies, a beautiful view or a pet that crawls onto our lap.

This comes from an article citing research that shows children who are exposed to nature during the school day are better behaved in the classroom and can concentrate more. Stands to reason the same would hold true for us adults. The article continues:
Directed attention is a limited resource. Long hours in front of a computer or studying for a test can leave us feeling fatigued. But spending time in natural settings appears to activate involuntary attention, giving the brain’s directed attention time to rest.

“It’s pretty clear that all human beings experience attentional fatigue,” Dr. Faber Taylor said. “Our attention has to be restored from that fatigue, and there is a growing body of research evidence that nature is one way that seems particularly effective at doing it.”

Monday, February 23, 2009

going the extra mile to get the job

Remember "the best job in the world" that I posted about – caretaker of Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef? Not only has the competition generated tons of interest and free press for Tourism Queensland, but it's also attracted some creative applications, like this video and blog entry from Vancouverite Marcella Moser.

It's not my taste, but it is completely appropriate for the job to which she's applying. The key is that it's all show, not tell. Marcella has demonstrated that she's capable of writing a blog, producing video and handling the back end by creating a well-designed custom site. The blog also gives a sense of her writing style, interests and personality, and proves that she can come up with a good idea and execute it well.

Now, by no means am I suggesting you all go out and make a video and start a blog for every job you apply to, but think about what would be appropriate. And even if you stick to a simple cover letter and resumé, keep these points in mind:
Show more than tell. In your cover letter, include examples of past situations that demonstrate relevant talents. In your resumé, list accomplishments instead of just duties.

Consider your audience. Include keywords from the job posting and highlight duties and accomplishments most relevant to the position.

Tailor your application to the recipient. Do the above for each job you apply to. Every position is different, so every application should be.

Related posts:
Creative resumés
Putting together a good application package
Writing a good cover letter

Friday, February 20, 2009

send in your resumé twice

I was starting to question my assertion that it's important to send in a hard copy of your resumé and cover letter – email and online applications have quickly become the norm – but this tip from resumé professionals, cited in the New York Times, supports my theory.

[I]f you really want to make an impression, make a hard copy of your cover letter and résumé and send it to the hiring manager by regular mail. Attach a handwritten note that says, “Second submission; I’m very interested,” [Katy] Piotrowski, [author of career books and a career counselor,] said. “I’ve had clients double their rate of interviews simply from doing that,” she said.

[Wendy S.] Enelow, [author of “Cover Letter Magic,”] calls this “double-hitting,” and says she has seen it work remarkably well. She said a senior-level client of hers got an interview and was hired because the hard copy of his cover letter and résumé reached the company president, whereas his electronic application was rejected by someone in human resources because it did not meet certain rigid criteria.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

want an internship? that'll be $8,000 please

Apparently not only do some internships not pay, but they also cost money to get. A story in the Globe and Mail reports that one charity is auctioning off internship placements (some going for as much as $50,000), and another company guarantees a two-month internship for $8,000 (both US dollars, both offering spots in publishing).

While the author and most of the commentators are outraged – another way for the upper class to get the upper hand, they say – I simply think it's just a stupid idea, not an affront to meritocracy.

In the case of the auction, it's just the charity trying to find clever things to sell and companies donating the placements saying, "sure, we can have some idiot follow us around and ask questions (and do some grunt work!) for the good of some nonprofit." It looks like each internship is only a week or two – hardly an impressive stint to put on a resumé, regardless of what company the internship is with.

And the $8,000 guaranteed placement: Details are slim, but it looks like there is some sort of screening and interview process; it's not only money that will get you the job.

It's the people who pay that I think are stupid. With ingenuity, drive and perseverance, one should be able to arrange their own internship. Why not take the money you'd pay for the placement and live off it while doing the job, since you're not getting paid.

Thanks to Clare Douglas for pointing out the Globe article to me.

Friday, February 13, 2009

how to assign and edit a story

Folio offers up a succinct 14-step guide to assigning and editing a story. It's good reference for newbies, and a nice refresher for old hats. Something that didn't occur to me but seems so obvious: Don't give your writers Friday deadlines – these often become Mondays.

Hat tip to Penny Caldwell.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ed2010: on RRJ.ca and details of the next Happy Hour event

Check out the profile of Ed2010 on the Ryerson Review of Journalism website. (In case you don't know, I'm the Canadian Director of the editorial networking group.) I just want to add a shout-out to assistant chapter host Briony Smith, who didn't happen to be mentioned in the article (though she was interviewed) – she coordinates all our Toronto Happy Hours, among other things.

Speaking of Happy Hours, Ed Toronto's next one is being held Wed., March 11, 6-9 pm at The Duke of York (39 Prince Arthur Ave., near the Bedford exit of St. George subway station), in the 2nd floor conservatory (go upstairs to the back).

Come out and mix and mingle with other magazine editors. We're having another Chat-with-an-Editor Raffle, with a chance to win dinner with Liza Cooperman, executive editor of Hello! Canada. Tickets are $6 in advance, $5 at the event. Plus, we've got door prizes: Everyone in attendance has a chance to win one of two free one-year subscriptions to Walrus Magazine.

So come on out and bring all your friends!!! For full details, check Ed Toronto's Facebook event page.