— melanie coulson (@mel_coulson) February 11, 2016
I wish journalists weren’t learning so many important lessons from losing their jobs. But, as long as so many journalists are losing their jobs, I’m glad some of them are sharing the lessons they’re learning.
I blogged recently about the turmoil in Canadian media, which resembles what U.S. media have also faced, including various companies I’ve worked for.
I’ve shared lessons here before (links below) from my job losses and job searches, but in this post, I want to call attention to posts by two Canadian friends who have blogged their own lessons.
Melanie Coulson, whom I met in a visit to the Ottawa Citizen in 2010, lost her job there a couple years ago. This week more Citizen journalists have lost their jobs*, and Mel blogged about four lessons she learned since losing hers. I recommend reading her entire post, but here’s a passage that stood out to me:
Stop thinking of yourself as a journalist with specialized skills that won’t transfer to other jobs. I’m telling you — they are so, so in demand.
Words are your super power — but to others they are kryptonite.
You have other amazing superhero skills: You ask the right questions, ones that others are afraid to ask.
This is something you’ve done that your whole career.
Update: And now Mel has a new gig:
Leap Day! And I'm thrilled to be jumping into a new role @Canada2020 as its Director of Content & Engagement!
— melanie coulson (@mel_coulson) February 29, 2016
— HuffPost Canada (@HuffPostCanada) February 6, 2016
Earlier this month, Kim Fox shared nine lessons from her own job-loss experience, including this one:
Say yes to every meeting – even when you’re feeling low, or aren’t sure about fit. IMHO any interview is good practice; it’s just as important to learn what you DON’T want.
*Update: Drew Gragg notes in the comments that the most recent departures at the Citizen were voluntary buyouts. I don’t know the particulars of the Ottawa situation, but I do know that every round of buyouts in the news business includes some pressure to accept a buyout before some people may want to end their careers. Sometimes the pressure is an attractive package, sometimes the pressure is an explicit or implicit recognition that the company may cut jobs (with a less attractive severance package) if it doesn’t succeed in reducing the newsroom enough with buyouts. And some people are fed up and ready for retirement or another career and jump at the package. I know some happy journalists who have moved on with not problems after a buyout. I know others who have dealt with and still deal with many of the issues discussed in Kim’s and Mel’s posts, though the dynamic is definitely different if you had a choice in the matter, even a choice under pressure.
My links on losing jobs and looking for the next one
I should note here that you don’t always start looking for a job because you just lost one. I’ve lost two jobs in my 45-year journalism career. Other times, I moved on because a great opportunity arose while I was enjoying a job. Sometimes I started looking for work because I could see the current job situation deteriorating for reasons varying from personal relationships to economic turmoil to changing strategy. Along the way, I learned a lot.
Here are previous posts I’ve written about dealing with the impact of a job loss and looking for the next one (the first one includes excellent advice from colleagues):