Friday, December 23, 2011


Well, this is it. My last post for Dream Job TK. It's been nearly five years, and it's been a trip.

Before I sign off, I'd like to share two things I've learned so far in my magazine editing career. Now, they're not the only things that matter, and they may not even be the most important, but you can't forget them in the pursuit of your dream job:

1. Trust your gut.
If you find yourself asking yourself whether your next career move is the right one for you, maybe it's not.

Excited and giddy about the possibilities of a new gig or assignment? Can't wait to tell everyone? Can you picture yourself doing the job? Jump right in.

Debating the merits of the offer over and over? Making a pros and cons list? Asking everyone you know if you should take it? You might be looking for permission or validation because something in your gut is telling you that it's not for you.

2. Make friends.
Some people might call this networking, but that word doesn't express the true nature of the relationships you can build in this industry. It's a community filled with wonderful people. Get to know them and they will help you over and over again in your career. You will find confidantes, mentors and many, many very good friends, and even some excellent acquaintances. When you're stuck in your career or have an editing problem to solve, nothing is more valuable than having someone (or a few someones) who know what it's like to be an editor to talk to about it.

Thank you all so much for reading Dream Job TK, and for your comments and questions over the years. It truly has been an honour sharing with you.

Wishing each and every one of you all the best in your careers. I hope you find your Dream Job.

PS – The Dream Job TK archives will remain online for you peruse anytime you need a little career advice. And you can find me online on Twitter @vangerwen or at my website,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Reading List, Dec. 19

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor. 

"Why We Teach Journalism to Specialists, Instead of the Other Way Around" by Robert Steiner on MediaShift. A different type of J-school, where you're an expert in your field first, then learn the fundamentals of journalism.

"How to Quit Your Job" by Alison Green on U.S. News.  You probably know that you can't do it via text message, but here are some other tips.

"5 Ways To Spot A Bad Boss In An Interview" by Stephanie Taylor Christensen on Forbes. Even if it's your dream job, work could become a living hell with a horrible boss. Some warning signs.

• "10 tips for journalists who want to be better presenters" by Tom Huang on Poynter. If you've been asked to speak at a conference or be a speaker at an event, read this first.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Good Way to Prepare for Job Interviews

So you got a job interview (congratulations!) — now what? How do you prepare yourself so you make a good impression?

There are lots of ways, but do this one thing and you should be ready for most questions that come up: Read over the job description and think of examples in your career that demonstrate those skills and qualities.

It's one thing to say that you posses a certain qualification; it's another, better thing to prove you have the skills by relaying a story that supports the claim. Even if you're not asked a direct "give me an example of when..." question, having a stockpile of particular stories makes it easier for you to answer questions and volunteer examples from your career.

It also forces you to think about what the interviewer is looking for in a candidate, and will help you focus your answers so you're less likely to ramble on about irrelevant topics.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Reading List, Dec. 12

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor. 

"Top Tips for Attending your Office Holiday Party" by Miranda Wulf on Unlimited. Yes, you should go to your work party.

"Productivity Tie-Breaker: How Will You Feel Afterwards?" by Mark McGuinness on The 99%. A little tip to help you make headway on those long-term projects so they don't turn into last-minute emergencies.

"Key Questions to Ask to Find Key Staff" by Harvey Schachter on Report on Business. The four key qualities to look for in a new hire, plus the interview questions to ask to see if they have them.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Dream Job TK Coming to an End

It is with mixed feelings that I announce the closing of the Dream Job TK blog.

After long consideration, I have decided that it is time for me to move on to other things. I will continue to blog up until Christmas, but will not post again after the New Year. The entire archives of Dream Job TK, dating back to 2007, will remain available at

If you have any burning questions about working in magazines, email me now [vangerwen at gmail dot com] or leave a comment before Dec. 16, and I'll do my best to answer them before I sign off.

Until then.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reading List, Nov. 28

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor. 

"Women Journalists Confront Harassment, Sexism When Using Social Media" by Jeff Sonderman on Poynter. Ladies, you don't need to grin and bear those nasty, or even slightly uncomfortable comments left on your online work. Take action.

The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks by Bethany Keeley. Check out the sidebar for additional amusing blogs.

"How Do You Deal With Having to Fire Someone?" by Alison Green on Ask a Manager. Getting fired is no fun, but neither is having to fire someone, and there's usually a lot less advice about it. Here's a little.

"Famous Magazines' First Covers" by Judy Berman on Flavorwire.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Editor Profile: Dick Snyder, Totem & CityBites


WHO: Dick Snyder, editorial director, Totem; president, CityBites Media Inc.; editor, CityBites; freelancer.
WENT TO SCHOOL FOR: Jazz Guitar Performance, Concordia University; Journalism, Ryerson University
Summer intern (“Paid, thankfully.”), Saint John Evening Times Globe. “I was a general assignment reporter covering the city and region, everything from City Hall to a performance of The Polka Dot Door at the local theater. This was a fantastic job, because the prime mandate was to fill pages. There were three of us Toronto-based recent grads, all churning out anywhere from two to five stories a day. Battling for the front page!”
Editor, The Eyeopener. “Before the final school year was out, I ran for editor of Ryerson’s independent student newspaper. This was to be a cushion in case I wasn’t offered to stay on at the Times Globe. In fact, I was offered a permanent job, which left me the decision: Do I stay in Saint John and work my way up through a small newspaper, or do I go back to Toronto, work at The Eyeopener, and work on obtaining my dream job — a summer internship at The Globe and Mail. I rang Colin McKenzie, who was then deputy editor at the Globe to ask his advice. He said come back to Toronto, work like hell, and apply for the Globe’s summer internship.”
Summer intern, The Globe and Mail. “A coveted position on the Globe’s summer intern squad! I started as a copy editor on the foreign news desk. Then, I was a copy editor on the ‘universal desk,’ where a pool of copy editors dealt with copy from all departments. Then I was taught layout on the arcane proprietary layout system, and did layout for foreign and local news, and occasionally the front page. At the end of the summer, I was offered the only full-time job available for summer interns. Lesson: make yourself indispensable by learning every skill imaginable, with enthusiasm.” 
“Just an observation on editing and media: When I joined Totem (which was called Redwood at the time, back in 1999), branded or custom content were dirty words. But I’m proud to work with a company that pioneered and defined branded content, which we now see all around us, especially in new media platforms. There used to be a great divide between conventional journalists and the term we coined at Totem, “marketing journalists.” I always considered these two disciplines as two sides of the same coin. Marketing journalism isn’t that different from the kind of service journalism we learned in school, and put in practice in the lifestyle sections of conventional magazines and newspapers. Now, service journalism is everywhere, to wildly divergent standards of quality, mind you. The modern editor and journalist needs to be able to function in so many arenas, from print and digital media, to conventional and branded vehicles, to social and sharing tools. The ‘equipment’ of journalism is changing and will keep changing, but the basic skill sets remain. Tell a great story, make it riveting, package it up nice and never forget about your reader. The reader is the most important person, even more important than the editor.”

Monday, November 21, 2011

Reading List, Nov. 21

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

"Make a Great Resume First Impression: 6 Best Tips" by Sheryl Coonan on YouTern's The Savvy Intern blog. It takes only seconds for an editor to toss your resumé in the No pile; these tricks will reduce the likelihood that that will happen.

"5 Keys to Successful Informational Interviews" by Tim Tyrell-Smith on Tim's Strategy. Informational interviews are a valuable job-serch and networking tool. Before asking for one, read this piece.

"Manners Matter" by Meg Montford on Abilities Enhanced. Think sending thank you notes is old-school? That's why they get you noticed. This piece shares seven points in your job hunt when sending thanks is a good idea.

My Favourite Magazine series on SPD. Art and photo directors talk about, well, their favourite magazines.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday, November 07, 2011

Reading List, Nov. 7

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

• "The Alot is Better Than You at Everything" by Allie on Hyperbole and a Half. Funny grammar stuff for all you grammar nerds (who I'm assuming is all of you who read this blog).

"Ten Career Lessons from the Top of the Masthead" by Victoria Pynchon on Forbes. Advice culled from the life of Jill Abramson, the first woman executive editor of the New York Times.

"How International Students Can Land U.S. Internships" by Gennifer Delman on Ed2010. Covers the basics of getting a visa.

"Is Your Resume a Mirror or a Window? Success in 3 Steps" by Mark Babbitt on YouTern's Savvy Intern blog. A decent exercise for improving your resumé.

"Advertising Companies Fret Over a Digital Talent Gap" by Tanzina Vega in the New York Times. It's not just in advertising; there's a lack of people with digital skills in magazines too. If your talent lies in this area, you could be in high demand.

"14 Punctuation Marks That You Never Knew Existed" by Jack Shepherd on BuzzFeed. Actually, you probably know a few of them.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Take Care of Your Relationship with Your Mentor

A friendly reminder: If you are fortunate enough to have a mentor in your life, don't forget to treat their time and advice as the gifts they are.
  • Always say thank you – then say it again. This person is giving you valuable information free of charge. He is volunteering his time. Even if it's not a big deal to him, it should be a big deal to you. Make sure your mentor knows that you appreciate it.
  • Don't demand too much from your mentor. We are all busy. Don't take up too much of your mentor's time and don't try to dictate the terms. Work around her schedule and be conscious of how much you are asking of her. 
A mentor's generosity can quickly turn sour if he starts to feel as if he's not appreciated or is being taken advantage of. If that happens, you'll lose the benefits that a mentor provides and a valuable champion for your career.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Editor Profile: Beckie Fox, Garden Making


WHO: Beckie Fox, editor-in-chief and co-owner, Garden Making

WENT TO SCHOOL FOR: Journalism, Michigan State University

FIRST MAGAZINE JOB: Freelance copy editor, Canadian Living (in the early ’80s). “Editing craft and food stories is good training for the step-by-step and how-to stories integral to any type of service journalism. Before that, I was an editor at a community newspaper in Etobicoke, Ont.”

SUBSCRIBES TO: Fine Gardening, Gardens Illustrated, Organic Gardening, Garden Design, The English Garden, Horticulture Magazine, Cook’s Illustrated, The New Yorker, Country Living, House Beautiful, Martha Stewart Living, Maclean’s, Better Homes and Gardens, Canadian House & Home, The Walrus, Saltscapes, Vines. “There are probably about a dozen others I occasionally buy on the newsstand. The magazines I still miss are Gourmet and House & Garden.”



  • The ability to deliver content your readers want.
  • The intuition to deliver content your readers didn’t know they wanted.
  • Having a solid partnership with an art director who understands the stories you’re conveying to your readers.
  • Respectful relationships with freelance writers, editors and photographers.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Reading List, Oct. 24

weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

"How to Manage a Perfectionist" by Amy Gallo on Harvard Business Review. If you have a perfectionist on your team, their attention to detail may slow down everyone else. Some good suggestions here. (It's also a good read if you're a perfectionist yourself."

"Treat Your Employees like Neighbors" by Art Markman on Harvard Business review. If you create a community within your company and everyone pitches in, your employees and your magazine will do better.

"What Every Magazine Media Company Needs: A Chief Dream Officer" by Samir Husni on Mr. Magazine. Chief Dream Officer = my dream job. Anyone want to hire me?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reading List, Oct. 17

weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

"Why Tina Brown, Chris Anderson, David Remnick and Others Are Upbeat Despite Media Tumult" by Matthew Creamer on  AdAge. Finally, people are starting to talk positively and recognize opportunities, instead of whining about the death of print.

"FOLIO:'s 2011 13 Under 30." For those thinking they'll be 50 before they get to be editor, here are 13 young folks in top positions to inspire you.

"How to Bounce Back From a Big Mistake" by John Caddell on The 99%. You're going to make mistakes; how you handle them is what matters.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Reading List, Oct. 11

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

"Salary Negotiation Missteps: 6 Mistakes to Avoid" on How. Whether you're accepting a job offer or it's time for your annual review, negotiating a salary is tough. A few tips to help you get it right.

"Think Carefully Before Accepting a Counter Offer" by Lindsay Olson on U.S. News' On Careers. Have you tried to quit and your boss offered you more money to stay? You may want to decline the offer.

"What to Do if You Think You’re Getting Fired" by Alison Green on U.S. News' On Careers. Some very pragmatic advice on preparing yourself.

"10 Reasons Why People Get Fired" by Tim Tyrell-Smith on Tim's Strategy. You can do something about a few of the things on this list. If you do, you might be able to avoid getting fired.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Reading List, Oct. 3

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

"It’s a Fun, Fun, Fun Fun Magazine: HGTV Magazine. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Sara Peterson, HGTV magazine Editor-in-Chief" by Samir Husni on Mr. Magazine.

"Editors Share Twitter Best Practices" on Folio:. Four magazine editors dish on how they use Twitter.

"7 Good Reasons To Turn Down A Reasonable Job Offer" by Mark Swartz on Monster. Just because you're offered a job doesn't mean you have to say yes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Make the Best of a Bad Job

At one time, if you hated your job it was easy to say, "I can always leave whenever I want; I'll just get another job." These days, though, you may feel stuck in a job you don't like because finding a new job seems tougher than it used to be.

Instead of wallowing in your misery, it would do you some good to change your attitude. Don't stop looking for your dream job, but in the meantime (until more opportunities are available), also get what you can out of your current position. Identify what you'd like to do next, determine what skills you'll need or could improve on, and then try to develop those skills in your current position.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Reading List, Sept. 26

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

"7 Tips for Being the Best Editorial Intern Ever" by Ashley Ross on Excellent advice for anyone doing an internship at a magazine. Follow these tips and you'll stand out from other interns.

"Clichés to Ditch on the Job Hunt" by Meghan Casserly on The Globe and Mail. We all know better than to use clichés when writing articles, but do you fall back on them when writing your resumé and cover letter?

"Rant: Effective Resume Writing" on Rock-it Promotions' blog, On The Fourth Floor. A refresher on basic resumé writing tips. My favourite: don't forget to spell Canadian!

"Starting Off On the Right Foot With Your New Hire Orientation/Onboarding Program" by Nancy Mobley on Inc. How much thought do you put into making new hires feel welcome? Some points to consider.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Editor Profile: Gwen Smith, Allergic Living


WHO: Gwen Smith, editor and co-owner, Allergic Living 

WENT TO SCHOOL FOR: Journalism, Ryerson University

FIRST MAGAZINE JOB: City Desk copy editor, The Globe and Mail. “I interned and grew up at The Globe.”

SUBSCRIBES TO: Maclean's, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Azure, Toronto Life, Whole Living, Marie Claire, More, Donna Hay. “Plus, lots from the newsstand, depending on the articles.”

Previous positions include editor-in-chief of Elm Street, assisstant managing editor at Maclean’s, deputy managing editor of The Globe and Mail.

“We launched our U.S. edition of Allergic Living magazine this spring. Exciting times for a small team of Canadian magazine people.”

Monday, September 19, 2011

Charles Oberdorf, Mentor Extraordinaire

There is no greater boost to a newbie editor's confidence than an encouraging word from a more experienced magaziner. On several occasions, Charles Oberdorf – editor, writer and teacher, who sadly died this past Friday – had provided me with just such a boost.

I am one of the many students who have taken Charles' Magazine Editing class at Ryerson Univerity's Chang School of Continuing Education. It was a great class and I learned a lot, but Charles' friendship was by far the best thing I got out of it.

Twice, Charles wrote me reference letters that I have since gone back to read each time I apply to a new job or retool my resumé. At one time he told me he was "a fan" of mine. To know that I had a brilliant editor in my corner rooting for me, made me believe in my abilities as an editor when I was just starting out. I stopped second-guessing myself and learned that I could go to bat with the pros – that I am a pro.

There are others in this industry who knew Charles much better than I, but judging by the comments on D.B. Scott's Canadian Magazines blog, my experience is common – Charles often took the time to mentor new editors. I will always be thankful that I was one of the ones fortunate enough to receive some of that encouragement and support.

Charles, you will be missed.

Reading List, Sept. 19

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

"10 Good Things To Do While Between Jobs" by Blessy Vaidian on JobMob. If you're looking for work, do more than just send out resumés and mope around the house: network, volunteer or learn something new.

"5 Tips for Hiring Startup Interns" by Kwame Kuadey on the Young Entrepreneur Council. Although aimed at start-up companies, this piece offers a basic guide suitable for any company that hires interns. Tips 4 and 5 are particularly important: set expectations upfront, and consider interns as potential candidates for future staff positions.

Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, by Keith Houston. I highly recommend this fascinating blog, which tells the surprisingly intriguing stories of punctuation marks, their use and their histories. Trust me, it's not as dry as it sounds.
A Wordle (word cloud) of the most commonly used words on Dream Job TK.

Wordle. If you need an inexpensive (read free) illustration for an article, try out this cool toy created by Jonathan Feinberg (yes, the rights allow for commercial usage). Enter the article text and this tool will create a word cloud that you can customize by colour, font and layout. Also a handy tool for seeing if any words have been overused in a story.

The Fantastic Man editorial offices on Where They Create by Paul Barbera. Photographs of the magazine's editorial offices in Amsterdam. Also on the site: the offices of interior design magazine Frame in Amsterdam, Monster Children magazine in Sydney, and Sneaker Freaker magazine in Melbourne. (via magCulture)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How's Megan Lane Patrick on Her New Job Title

"When I became editor of HOW in May, it was clear that the title of editor-in-chief was no longer appropriate for the position. What do you call a person who's responsible for a magazine, website, blog, book line, and roster of events and competitions? 
I decided Content Director was the right title for me now and for what I will be doing long into the future."
– Megan Lane Patrick, Content Director, How, in her editor's letter of the September 2011 issue

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reading List, Sept. 12

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

• "5 Questions to Ask the Hiring Manager" by Lindsay Olson on  U.S. News. When you're being interviewed, it's a good idea to ask questions. Here are five decent ones that will help you decide if the job you're applying to is the right one for you.

• "Is Journalism as We Know it Becoming Obsolete?" by Mathew Ingram on GigaOM. Media and publishing institutions may be suffering, but journalism isn't dead.

"Teaching Magazine Journalism Beyond the Magazine" by Susan Currie Sivek on Media Shift. How a few journalism teachers stay relevant as the magazine industry changes.

"Anatomy of a Zine: When Magazines Go Indie" by Meredith Melnick on Time.

• "How The New York Times is taking Twitter reporting faster and deeper with @NYTLive" by Jeff Sonderman on Poynter. If your publication has just a single Twitter account, maybe you need to add another. The New York Times is finding that multiple accounts allows it to speak to different segments of its audience.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Editor Profile: Anicka Quin, Western Living


WHO: Anicka Quin, editor-in-chief, Western Living

WENT TO SCHOOL AT: The University of Guelph, where she got her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science; and Simon Fraser University, where she got her Master of Publishing

FIST MAGAZINE JOB: Circulation manager, id Magazine in Guelph, Ont.

SUBSCRIBES TO: Bon Appétit, The New York Times Magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, Toronto Life, Fashion, Chatelaine 

INDUSTRY INVOLVEMENT: Past president of the BC Association of Magazine Publishers (now Magazine Association of BC); sits on the professional development committees of both MagsBC and Magazines Canada; regional board member for the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors; on the publishing advisory committee for Langara College.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Reading List, Aug. 29

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

"Teaching Journalism in an Age When News Comes to You" by Lynne Russell on MediaShift. More than ever, j-school must teach its students how to evaluate a source.

"Vogue's Anna Wintour: Intimidating, No. Powerful, Yes." [video] by Jenna Goudreau on Forbes. A brief video interview with Anna Wintour.

• "Merriam-Webster Dictionary Now Includes ‘Tweet’, ‘Social Media’, ‘Crowdsourcing’ And More" by Robin Wauters on Tech Crunch. Finally, the dictionary catches up with the rest of the world.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Editor Profile: Chandra Turner, Parents


WHO: Chandra Turner, executive editor, Parents; founder and president, Ed2010 [a networking community of young magazine editors]

WENT TO SCHOOL FOR: Journalism, Indiana University. “I always knew that I wanted to go into journalism. By junior year in college I knew I wanted to be in magazines specifically.”

INTERNED AT: The American Legion Magazine, in Indianapolis

“What I'm most excited about right now is Ed2010's new program for interns with the American Society of Magazine Editors: the ASME Next-Ed2010 Magazine Career Training Course. It's a 10 week workshop [in New York] this fall for editorial interns to learn about everything from writing and editing for the tablet to marketing and sales.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Reading List, Aug. 22

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

"5 Ways to Save Your Writing Clips From Oblivion" by Susan Johnston on The Urban Muse. Practical tips on how to keep your digital clippings.

"One Mentor’s 10-Step Job Interview Process: Where do You Fall Out?" by Todd Herschberg on YouTern's The Savvy Intern blog. The inside scoop on how one employer weeds out job candidates.

• "Boston Globe Creates a Twitter Board for the Newsroom" by Justin Ellis on the Nieman Journalism Lab. If you want staff from all departments to get more involved in social media, increasing awareness about what your brand is doing may be the ticket.

"How Journalists See Each Other" on DigiDave.

"Making the Leap from Editor to Content Strategist" by Sara Zailskas on the American Society of Business Publication Editors blog (via WordCount). Lost your job as an editor or just tired of magazine publishing? "Content Strategist" could be your next career move.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Reading List, Aug. 15

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

• "Today’s Publishing Career: We Are All Vulnerable" by Robert Sacks on Publishing Executive. It's highly unlikely you will hold your current position for the rest of your career. Even if you're happy with your job, it's important to have your next step in mind.

"A Rogue Tweeter Titillates, Then Vanishes" by Jeremy W. Peters on The New York Times' Media Decoder. Ok, so you may be sick of hearing about the faux Twitter account that received a lot of media attention last week, but if you haven't read the @CondeElevator feed yet, do. It's terribly amusing.

• "Interns Should Get What They Want or Else Walk Out" on Interns Anonymous. If you're not learning anything at your internship and are just doing busywork, you don't have to stick around. I wouldn't recommend following the author's lead in how s/he left, though; be polite and professional in your departure.

"Modifying Resume Job Titles Risky… Unless You’re Honest" by Dawn Rasmussen on YouTern's The Savvy Intern blog. Even if you want to change a job title on your resumé to more accurately represent the actual work you did, there are good reasons not to.

"Are Your Co-Workers Killing You?" by Jonah Lehrer on Yet another reason to leave that toxic workplace sooner rather than later: the stress of being surrounded by nasty co-workers could shorten your life.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Editor Profile: Peter Carter, Today's Trucking


WHO: Peter Carter, editor, Today's Trucking

WENT TO SCHOOL FOR: Journalism, Carleton University

FIRST MAGAZINE JOB: Editorial assistant, Chimo Media, “which published Sound&Vision, for stereo fanatics; Influence (a cross between GQ and National Review, edited by Peter Worthington – one of the best editors ever); and ProSound, for music engineers. The late army brat and headline wiz Jim Cormier was the guy who hired me; I owe him big time.”

Monday, August 08, 2011

Reading List

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

"The Over-45 Job Search Guide" by Katherine O'Brien on Possibilities. How to play up your strengths and combat ageist stereotypes in your job hunt.

"The Best Boss I Ever Had" by Shelley White in The Globe and Mail. Want to be a great boss? (You should!) Take a page from the bosses in this collection of true stories.

"Incivility a Growing Problem at Work, Psychologists Say" by Sharon Jayson in USA Today. It's not your imagination: your coworkers are becoming more rude. We're all busy, but let's remember our manners and be kind to one another.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Reading List

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

"How to Write a Great Accomplishment Statement" by Tim Tyrell-Smith on Tim's Strategy. Next time you update your resumé, really sell yourself by explaining what you accomplished in each position; don't just list your job duties.

"The 5 Most Common Interview Questions – and How to Answer Them" by Katie Amey on Customized for magaziners.

"Too Much Information:Why I Don't Trust Employment Interviews" by Maria Gottschalk on YouTern's The Savvy Intern blog. A few tips on how to fairly evaluate all applicants when conducting job interviews.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Editor Profile: Penny Caldwell


WHO: Penny Caldwell, editor, Cottage Life; director of content development, Quarto Communications

ALSO TEACHES: Magazine and Web Editing, Magazine and Web Publishing certificate program, Ryerson University’s G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education

WENT TO SCHOOL AT: The University of Toronto, where she received her Bachelor of Arts

FIRST MAGAZINE JOB: Assistant editor, Canadian Yachting

AWARDS: Named Editor of the Year by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors, 2006 and 2010. Has steered Cottage Life magazine to numerous national and international awards.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Reading List

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

"Unpaid Interns: Working for Free" by Dakshana Bascaramurty in The Globe and Mail (hat tip to the Toronto Freelance Editors and Writers listserve). Companies that don't pay their interns may be breaking the law. Is it too much to hope that the climate might be ripe for a crackdown on unpaid internships?

• Canadian Living's Colleen Tully on being a Web Food Editor (video) on Good Food Revolution, via Magazines Online. Want to know what it's like to be an online food editor? Watch this.

• "Are You Trapped in a Bad Relationship…With Your Job?" by Sherrie Bourg Carter in Psychology Today. If your relationship with your boss or your job has gone sour, maybe it's time to leave.

"The Unemployed Worker's New Friend: Outsourcers" by Joe Light in The Wall Street Journal (hat tip to @susan_peters). Paying someone to job hunt for you – I would recommend not doing this.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why the Tyee's David Beers Thinks Aspiring Journalists Should Get Away From Their Computers

The Internet can be deceiving. You can have a relationship with the computer screen and feel that you can do this on your own. Or you can network with people on Twitter and Facebook and feel that you’re plugged into a community. If you’re starting out, I’d advise a real-life network of people who you see face to face, compare notes, get together to work constructively, take your work seriously, and work together to help each other get better. That was really instrumental to me when I got started.
– David Beers, founding editor of The Tyee and adjunct professor of the University of British Columbia's School of Journalism, giving advice to aspiring journalists in an interview with ArtsWire.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Reading List

A weekly roundup of job-hunting tips, career advice and interesting articles relevant to the magazine industry and being an editor.

"Bored People Quit" on Rands in Repose. Required reading for editors in charge of a team. If you don't want to lose your best editors, that is.

"99 Tips That Will Help You Land a Job" by James Clear on Passive Panda (via Alltop). From having the right mindset to interview tips to how to negotiate a salary, some great gems.

"Help! I Can't Land a Job Interview" by Rosa E. Vargas on YouTern's The Savvy Intern blog (via @ginidietrich). I strongly urge everyone to heed Vargas' advice about resumés: Yours must "outdistance" others – it is a marketing tool, not a list of everything you've ever done.

"Orgasm Guaranteed: What I learned While Freelancing at Cosmopolitan by Katherine Goldstein on Slate. An amusing account of life in the fact-checking trenches.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Editor Profile: Chantel Simmons


WHO: Chantel Simmons, hair editor, The Kit.

OTHER JOBS INCLUDE: Instructor (magazine writing, editing, online magazines), post-grad Book and Magazine Publishing Program, Centennial College; beauty expert, The Marilyn Denis Show; freelance writer ("I mostly focus on beauty, relationships, travel and home decor") for Elle Canada, HGTV, Food Network and a few other mags; author of two bestselling novels.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bill Keller on the People Part of Being an Editor

"There's a lot of stuff they don't teach you in the mythical editors' school. ... [T]here's other stuff that I sometimes think of as an in loco parentis role. You have these people who work for you, but they're also people. They have families and people in their family get cancer and die, and there's a lot of being there for people. That was not something I had anticipated."
– Soon-to-be former executive editor of the New York Times Bill Keller in an interview with Scott Raab for Esquire's August 2011 issue. Read the full interview with Keller in two parts – pre and post the announcement that he was stepping down.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Editor Profile: Patrick Walsh

There are many things that make magazines an amazing industry, but it's the people who make it a community I am proud to belong to. In celebration of the hardworking editors who put together the pages of our favourite publications, I am launching this Editor Profile series. Every other Thursday on Dream Job TK, a top editor will share a little bit about him/herself along with a few thoughts on editing. It is my hope that this series helps us all get to know each other a little better, and perhaps even present new editors with a few role models. I hope you enjoy it, and please let me know what you think and if there's an editor whom you would like to see featured.
PS – A special thank you to my first subject, Patrick Walsh, who has provided me with a fabulous kick-off to the series.

WHO: Patrick Walsh, editor-in-chief and brand manager, Outdoor Canada

WENT TO SCHOOL FOR: Print Journalism, Centennial College

FIRST MAGAZINE JOB: Assistant Editor, Muskoka Life magazine, in his hometown of Bracebridge, Ont. "It was 1983, and it was a paying job for my final term work placement."

SUBSCRIBES TO: Esquire, Field & Stream, Ontario Out of Doors, Outdoor Life. "I wish I had time for more. I'm now resigned to picking up the odd copy of other titles at the newsstand."

I'm married to another magazine editor, Jackie Kovacs, who is deputy editor of Today's Parent. Our three children (ages 9, 13 and 15) accordingly share our penchant for editing poor grammar and punctuation in roadside signs.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

What's Evan Hansen Looks for in a Web Editor

"On the web, you want people who are very flexible, who can wear a lot of hats. It's a very flat organization (at least ours is). Everybody does everything. So you don't want to have prima donnas who won't put a photo into a blog post because it's 'not their job.' You have to have people who are good at moving quickly, who can get the copy out."

– Evan Hansen, Editor-in-Chief,, on what qualities he looks for in a web editor, responding to a question from the audience at MagNet 2011's marquee session, "Welcome to the (Digital) Jungle"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Can You Hire Someone Without Doing an Interview?

I'm not a big fan of job interviews – from either side of the desk. They're a false construct because everyone is on their best behaviour. As an applicant, how do you know if you'll like the work environment and the people? If you're interviewing candidates, how can you tell who will work best with the team and do a good job? You don't and you can't.

Until someone is doing the job, there's no true way to know if they're a fit. Which is why FlightCaster cofounder Jason Freedman doesn't interview potential employees. He hires them instead.

He doesn't hire them full-time, but as contract workers so he can see how well they, well, work. He pays them a contractor's fee to complete a defined project over the course of a few weeks, and if he's happy, they have a job.

I love this idea, and think that magazines are particularly well-suited to the practice. Hire an editor to handle some stories and work through production, and you'll know by the end of it if they're worth bringing on full time. And it gives them a chance to determine if they want to work for you.

What do you think? Would you try it? Would you do away with interviews?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Why I Object to Objective Statements

Do you have an objective statement on your resumé? I don't. Here's why:

1. They already know what I want.
I want the job I'm applying to. There's no reason to write an objective statement that says, "Looking for a challenging editorial position at a leading consumer magazine" or some other nonsense. It's stating the obvious.

2. Your cover letter should say it all.
If there's anything overarching that you need to say about yourself and your goals, it should go in your cover letter, not on your resumé.

Do you hate objective statements as much as I do? Why or why not?

Friday, April 29, 2011

2 Quick Resumé Tips

When an editor is hiring for a position, she will have to wade through dozens, if not hundreds of resumés. It's a tiring and tedious job, and the editor is likely to have a low tolerance level for small annoyances. Anything you can do to make it easier for her to find and read your resumé and cover letter will work to your advantage. Follow these two simple rules and you'll already stand out among the applicants, even before the editor reads your application.

  1. Send PDF files. Word documents can have font problems. All that tidy formatting you worked on can get messed up, making your resumé harder to read.
  2. Name the document with your name. For example, "vangerwen-cover.pdf" and "vangerwen-resume.pdf" will be easier to find in a folder filled with documents labelled just "coverletter.doc" and "resume-final.doc."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to Manage Event Invitations

Here's an idea for all you editors who get invited to so many press events, you feel as if you never spend time in the office: divvy up your invitations between editors.

I've heard of two places that do this: They gather all the event invites the editors have received in the previous week and at a weekly meeting (it could be during your usual update meeting), they divide them between the staff. This ensures no important event is missed, and reduces chances that the entire staff is unnecessarily out of the office.

This time of year, invitations to press events really start to flood in. What do you do to manage your time away from the office so you can still get your work done?

Monday, February 28, 2011

6 Value-Added Skills For Every Editor

Being an editor these days is no longer just about editing and writing print copy. Now you have to blog, make presentations and appear in videos, among other "additional duties as required." In order to rocket to the top of the industry and stay ahead of your class, honing your skills in these areas will help make you stand out.

As an editor, you are responsible for the content for your brand, not just the ink-on-paper version of it. You will be asked to blog, tweet and write for the web. If you don't know how (or if you do it badly), you will get left behind. Bonus: advanced knowledge in the digital arena makes you a candidate for web editing jobs – practically the only area of magazines that is growing right now.

That blog you're writing? If you can do the photography for it, you're worth more. More photos make for better blogs, especially when there's variety other than just product shots supplied by PR people and the quality is better than a basic snapshot. (Yes, I acknowledge the fact that I rarely post photos on this blog.)

Know photoshop? Now you can resize and edit those photos for your blog without bugging the art department. Understanding the basics of design will also help you better communicate with the art department (just remember: they still know more than you – respect their expertise). Plus, being able to think visually and explain it will help you develop and execute editorial packaging concepts, which depend on a successful marriage of text and images/layout.

If you can troubleshoot email problems and get the AV equipment running at a meeting, you portray an overall air of capability. Plus, you don't have to bug IT as often. (But again, respect their expertise.)

Editors are brand ambassadors and one of the more powerful tools in a magazine's marketing arsenal. Excel at making presentations (at a consumer show, for example) or doing demonstrations (for that web video, say) and you may find yourself one of the public faces for your magazine.

You do risk pigeonholing yourself, but being an expert in a particular area, for example beauty or environment, will make you a top candidate for positions requiring knowledge of that subject.

Any other skills you would add to this list?

Monday, January 31, 2011

What Every Intern Needs to Know

Interns, pay close attention, as this one is for you:

I recently had a lively conversation with several senior-level magaziners about interns.

Yes, interns, you are noticed, and your editor is going to talk about you with his friends (aka other editors).

What you want him to say about you is how amazing you are, that you are a godsend, that you do your job exceptionally well. If you are a good intern, your editor will do everything he can to help you along in your career.

What you don't want, is to have your editor speaking badly about you, because we do name names.

To help all you interns out there start off on the right foot in the biz, here are some Dos and Don'ts:

DON'T quit after the first day, saying, "It wasn't what I was expecting." Newsflash: first days of any job almost always suck. I know people – full-time hired staff – who have had no desk and no computer on their first day. If you are stuck at the receptionist's desk and given a bunch of back issues to read through, take the opportunity to read the magazine and get to know the brand. Preparing for an intern's arrival is usually near the bottom of a very busy editor's to-do list. We do our best to have things ready, but sometimes we just don't have any work for you to do on your first day. Quit your first day and you've already established a reputation as someone with an entitlement complex who doesn't see things through.
DON'T stop showing up. Life happens. Sometimes you find a full-time job or have family issues to deal with. If something unexpected comes up, call your editor, explain the situation and offer profuse apologies. Don't just not show up – it makes us anxious because we think you may have been in an accident. And when we find out that's not the case, we get pissed off.
DO say yes to every job, unless illegal or dangerous. This is not a pick-and-choose situation. Do what you are asked of, and with a smile. A good attitude will get you very far.
DO be professional. You may not be getting paid much, if at all, but you must treat your internship as a job. Have a courteous phone manner, be respectful of all staff and other interns, be helpful, and have a positive attitude. This is your audition for the industry.
DO learn Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds, and it's better if you have a blog. These are everyday tools of journalism now. We expect you to know them.

Interns, it is not hard to be a good intern. Judging from the many conversations I've had on this topic, bad interns are everywhere. Show up on time and do your job professionally, and you will stand out as a star.

Editors, anything else you would add to this list? Any advice or intern horror stories to share?